This was my and my wife's first cruise. As we live right out of Seattle, we thought it would be kind of fun to start and end within a few miles of our house. The advantages are obvious (no airfare, ability to lug more crap, etc.). The disadvantage is that several days get wasted getting there and back (nearly 4 full "at sea" days). I guess at sea would be fun if you're into the cheesy on board stuff like buying duty free crap, watching horrific "shows," playing bingo, etc. Clearly a lot of people do like this. The one and only on board activity that was interest was a wine tasting event that happened in the middle of the afternoon while at sea. Unfortunately, when you're a little queasy, mid-day drinking doesn't seem like such a hot idea.
The ports were interesting. Yes, there are fun excursions to take (we booked our own and saved a ton of cash AND got to go with smaller, better companies). What struck us, however, was the absolute lack of anything cool about the towns themselves. Ketchikan and Junneau have NOTHING other than shops that exist exclusively for cruise ship tourists. If buying crap made in China that says "Alaska" on it is your idea of a good time, you'll be in heaven. Likewise, if you like to buy expensive jewelry that you can buy anywhere for the same price or other trinkets. Otherwise, you're out of luck. Skagway had the same crap as well, but at least the stores were housed in actual historical buildings from the gold rush and there was a museum so you could learn the history. That made it worthwhile. The final stop was Victoria. This is by far the coolest place. Sadly, we were there only for a few hours.
The cruising was awesome. The Tracy Arm Fjord was stunning and we had fantastic weather. We were able to drive right up to the glacier. Magnificent. Along those same lines, the section in the inside passage was mind-blowing. Nice weather (though cold) and early season meant a lot of beautiful snow covered mountains.
The staterooms were OK, though they seemed a lot bigger in the photos. The staff was fantastic all the way around. They work their butts off for months on end with very little time to themselves, but they are always in a good mood. Not sure how they pull that off.
Celebrity is supposed to be among the best in terms of food. Our experience was mixed. The food in the buffet area was awful and barely edible. The food in the main dining room and a big step up, but still pretty bad (basically what you would expect when you are eating from a kitchen serving 2,000 - 3,000 meals at a time).
There were a few specialty dining options that were good. Qusine was a fun/interesting/unique/whimsical restaurant that could stand on its own anywhere. The food wasn't great in terms of gourmet/fine dining standards, but it wasn't too far off. Definitely a highlight.
The S.S. United States is supposed to be a fine dining experience with French food. It was mediocre at absolute best. There was a wine pairing menu that was a huge disappointment. The wine was good (but they poured very little with each course). The food was the least compelling stuff on the menu and everything else looked better. We would have been blown away if they served what we got in the main dining room, but it was not up to snuff in terms of the fine dining experience it was supposed to be. Not even close.
There was also a place that served crepes. For a $5 cover, you could have whatever you wanted. We ate here a LOT. Not great, but not bad.
Alcohol was reasonably priced.
The only thing on the boat that seemed like a huge rip off was internet ($.75/minute).
Would we recommend it? Perhaps. Would we go on another Celebrity cruise? Probably -- if we decided cruising was our thing. I'm pretty sure it isn't though.