We are a family of five with 3 girls ages 19 to 11. We have been on eight cruises, including Celebrity and my wife and I are both professionals.
Pre-Cruise: We arrived at SEA the day before form DTW just to try and get used to the time change. It helped but two or three days would probably have been better---but also more expensive. We stayed at the Hilton Double Tree near the airport. The shuttle comes every 20 minutes but we waited for 45 before landing 5 seats. The problem is that the shuttle gets filled as it goes down the lane, so you have to be at the beginning of the pick up area. Also we arrived at 3pm and it was crowded with several large groups. The rooms were nice, clean, well kept and had comfortable beds. We booked through Delta airlines so we were in one of the outer buildings-----many people complain about this because of the walking distance and the many hall ways. Well, you could have the bell hop deliver and take you to your room or you could pay more to stay in the tower. They give you free cookies (280 calories each) and check out is at noon. There is a Subway, Denny's Jack in the Box, Taco Bell and Liquor store just across the street. If it is a nice day (and it was) the pool area is also nice. It is unsupervised however and at your own risk. A taxi to Pier 66 was $58 for 5 people in the SUV. Here there are many options including public transit.
The Infinity departs from Pier 66 downtown and is a 25 to 30 minute ride from the airport. Celebrity transfers are $27 each way----that is $135 each way for me so I did as mentioned above. We arrived around 12pm. Your checked bags can be handled two ways. You can get in line and drop them off yourself or you can give them to a porter who will bring them in for you and they will expect a tip. The difference is that after the checked bags are done, you come out of that building and go into another line to check in to the ship. For us both lines were short so we just went through both. The rest was simple, hand in your express pass get your cards and take a welcome aboard shot. We were onboard in 35mins total.
The Ship: Recently refurbished and Solsticized, the Infinity is quite beautiful. The new areas like the Martini bar and Crush are smaller versions of the ones on the larger solstice class ships. More cabins have been added but the ship never felt crowded except for those times like lunch at the buffet or just before show time. Some areas of the ship still show wear and tear----rust or need of repair. I don't understand why this was not taken care of in dry dock? However, it did not change my overall impression of the ship or my enjoyment of it. The ship was beautiful and everyone in our group thought so.
Cabins: We were in the recently added cabins on deck 3 cabin numbers 3124 and 3126. They are new cabins and have extra large windows (6 foot round instead of the standard 4 foot round) they are 170 sq feet and even though we had two adjoining cabins, it was tight, but comfortable. The second washroom is a must and even though Family Verandah cabins have balconies and are larger they only have one bathroom. Much has been said about storage in the cabins---while it is sufficient we found it cramped----but managed. Look around there are lots of little places to put things.
The Food: Was excellent! Better than what we had on the Eclipse. In the dining room it arrived hot or nice and warm and was both visually appealing and delicious. Our waiter was Caesar and assistant Nery. They both worked very hard and knew our names by Day 2. The lobster tails were a very nice size and I ordered two---no problem. Steaks were good, salads good with an excellent variety. I was told that there was a new menu and to me it was better than what we had on the Eclipse. The ocean view cafe (buffet) is organized in stations so if you don't see something you like walk around the entire circle. Also, the buffet for breakfast was the exact same thing every day. However the exact same thing means that you had a choice of everything. I don't understand the frequent complaints about buffet breakfasts being boring. The buffet has fruit, pancakes, bacon, waffles, cereal, oatmeal, grits, pastries, muffins, juice, even an Asian station----pick what you want. If you don't like that then try the breakfast in the dinning room. The same is true for lunch and dinner. Then there is the issue of the Cafeteria trays. These were eliminated on the Eclipse in March 2011 when we were onboard. It required us to make several trips. It was not better. Certainly less cafeteria like but if you want less cafe/buffet then try the dinning room. We like the convenience of the trays. We went to Tea every day and it was good. The sushi was also excellent and the pizza and pasta bars are open very late and of course there is always room service.
Photography: Best ever. Gerard, Kaspar, Paolo and Hana are all very helpful. Gerard and Kaspar take the best pictures. Pictures cost the standard $19.99 and there are several packages. We got the all inclusive for $249.00 and received a CD with all our photos free because we are Captains Club members, otherwise it was an extra $50. If you are getting more than 15 pictures it is worth it. With a family of 5 in Alaska we had many more than 15 pictures. Photographers are also on deck for pictures at Tracey Arm.
Casino: Won some money on the first night, after that nothing. I managed to stay ahead by not playing. Machines are tight and the tables are regular odds. Staff was friendly and there were many tournaments and offers where you could have fun without spending more than $30 to $50 dollars.
Weather: We had almost perfect weather for the entire week and most of all during the port days. Every where we went people were constantly telling us how lucky we were weather wise. They were absolutely right; I had been tracking the weather for weeks before our cruise.
Ports: Shopping in all ports was basically souvenirs and jewelry. There really are no deals to be had here and in my opinion shopping is not the reason why you go to Alaska anyway. If you want shopping then go to St. Thomas and St. Martin. After all, every port is either the US or Canada so there really are no deals. Example Raymond Weil watch list price $2000 ask price $1500 same as back home------St. Thomas price $900. All ports had a sales tax, from a low of 5% in Alaska to 10% in Victoria Canada. Same goes for alcohol. Also I will not spend a lot of time talking about tours since previous reviewers have covered much of this topic already.
Ketchikan: Beautiful port, we had beautiful weather. We walked around for a few hours very easy to see everything by foot. Bought a few souvenirs took some great photos and went back on the ship.
Tracy Arm: You enter the fjord at 6:30am then get to the glacier around 7-7:30am and after a half hour or so the ship turns around and heads for Juneau. This is the highlight of the cruise do not miss this morning. We were lucky and had great weather throughout the cruise. On this day it was cloudy but when we reached the glacier we got sunshine and amazing pictures.
Juneau: Afternoon same day as Tracy Arm. Either you do a tour and there are many or you walk around town or stay on the ship. Mendenhall Glacier is the most common tour here along with the mount Roberts Tram.
Skagway: Basically a one street town. We had a lot of fun walking the streets and we took a tour with Frontier tours just past the dock area. For $65 each we got a city tour (5min), were driven up the white pass (we could see the train on the other side of the valley) stopped and took pictures all the way. (Train does not stop) Crossed the boarder and went all the way up to the Yukon and back. We got amazing photos; we were on a small windowed bus of only 20 people. For a family of five I saved $300.
Victoria: You get here at 6pm. Really this is just an add-on port to satisfy the Jones act that requires non-American flagged ships to come from a foreign port. Victoria is a beautiful little town. Here you have great photo ops of the harbour and the parliament buildings. Butchart Gardens is the big tour here but we were tired and we needed to go pack for debarkation.
The Not So Good:
1. Celebrity has a zero announcement policy and in theory it is a good idea. However, there are many times during embarkation and debarkation or even on port days where essential communication is not delivered. It is not enough to say read your daily newsletter or stay until the end of the show for announcements. The announcements that irritate people are the sales and event announcements and Celebrity has eliminated those.
2. Celebrity claims to have eliminated announcements but be prepared for a stack of letters and papers, essentially advertisements, sent to the cabin each day.
3. Entertainment: The production shows were excellent, however the illusionist was awful. Old tricks really with an attempt at modern spin----laughs at his own jokes and card tricks--good for the kids and not even close to Vegas. Comedian was good.
Time Change: You turn back 1 hour the night before Ketchikan and back to Seattle time on the night you leave Skagway. We found this a bit hard since we were coming from the east and were already adjusting to a 3hour difference. Not a complaint just a fact.
Debarkation: We always put out our luggage the night before and try to be the last off the ship. It was very efficient and we were off in 30 minutes including customs. Make sure you fill out your customs declaration form before you get off the ship or you will be held in line until you do so. The forms are delivered to your stateroom by your cabin steward. Many taxis wait outside we took a town car for $45. It was still cheaper than the $27 each that Celebrity was charging.
Overall: One of the best cruises we have taken. We had a blast. The kids had a great time and so did we. I would highly recommend Celebrity and Alaska to anyone asking. We are already planning for next year on a new Celebrity ship to the Caribbean.