Overall this was a nice cruise. It is interesting how separate guests on the same cruise can have such differing experiences and opinions.
When I was reading reviews before my cruise, I was looking to find some sort of "inside scoop", tips or suggestions that would give me some pre-Infinity knowledge.
I found one review that I printed, highlighted and brought with me. It helped with a few things, but I vowed to write explicitly about the things that may help you to know about and make your experience a little easier and more pleasant.
- Non-clothing items:
Highlighter -- to mark your Celebrity Today sheet, flashlight, Post it notes (good for leaving notes on mirror for room mates), hair dryer (if one's not included in your stateroom), they supply the basics; soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, travel clock (no clocks in the rooms), an over-night bag (luggage is to be put outside of your room by 11:00pm on the last night and you will need something to put your last minute stuff in).
- SHOES (& I'm a woman)-
I brought, Uggs, tennis shoes, flip flops, black dressy shoes (small 3" heel. Anything higher would be difficult to manage when the ship is rocking) and a comfortable stable walking/hiking shoe. I wore every pair, Especially the Uggs around the ship on cold days/nights.
- Casual wear-
JEANS- I brought 3 pair (one skinny that I wore to most dinners, and two regular pair that I wore on and off the ship). I brought two pair of shorts, but only used one. On our cruise we had record warm & sunny days and I still only used shorts once.
LAYERS- For two reasons. #1 The layers will keep you warmer. #2 When you go from outside to inside there can be a big temperature change and you will be able to peel them off. I used a short sleeve t-shirt or tank, long sleeve lightweight knit shirt, zippered sweatshirt and sometimes my rain jacket. I did not pack enough (2) light weight long sleeve shirts! I had one polar fleece jacket and I wished I had two.
WORK-OUT CLOTHES- I wasn't sure whether I would be running on the deck or working out in the gym, so I over-packed on the workout clothes. Luckily they don't take up much room. I did use a couple of the Capri pants as lounging wear when I was sitting by the Solarium or out door pool. I brought one bathing suit, which I used in the Solarium pool.
DINING WEAR- I wore my skinny jeans and brought a selection of nice tops and coverlets so I could vary my look ; )
FORMAL WEAR- I packed two black cocktail dresses. I had a nice long sleeve coverlet that I wore over them.
Arrival to your embarkation port:
- EXPECT LINES. I arrived at our port (Seattle), on the later side, to around 2:15 which I figured would be late. Well, there was still a line. I have read reviews of people complaining about the multiple lines they had to stand in prior to boarding. It's a cruise with 2000 people to get checked in! What did you expect! You're on vacation, you're there, the ship's not going to leave without you. It's time to take a deep breath and think about how you are not going to have to make your bed, wash a dish or worry about a meal for the next 7 days!
Finding your room and navigating your way around the ship:
- Let me preface this with; I DO NOT have a good sense of direction. I am one of those people who walks out of a mall shop and goes back the way I came in... Knowing this, the first thing I wanted to do was find my room. A couple of wrong turns, but I managed to make it fairly easily. For any of you who are directionally challenged as well, I made a mental note of which way my room was as I faced the elevators. This really helped. My room was towards the forward part of the ship, which helped me navigate where things were located in relation . Restaurants in aft, gym and Celebrity theater in front.
- After finding your room, I recommend going to Guest Relations and getting a pocket sized ship map. Celebrity DOES NOT issue them to you or have them available for you in your room. I carried this around for the first few days until I became better oriented.
- Decks 4, 5 & 10 are the most convenient and direct thoroughfares. Ironically, deck 10 has the buffet AND the gym on it (in opposite directions of course).
Food & Dining:
- You will receive a receipt when you purchase most food, beverages, or services. Be careful to note that a 15% gratuity has already been included, because there is a line for you to add gratuity and this can be confusing at first.
- Check your "Celebrity Today" paper for restaurant hours as they vary.
- DO NOT miss the once a cruise Brunch. Celebrity does not advertise it and as I understand, many people miss out on it because of that. Ours was on Wednesday, our second "at sea" day. It was only written in the Celebrity Today under Culinary Delights where "Breakfast" was typically listed.
- Oceanview Cafe. (Buffet) Deck 10- EXPECT CROWDS. People act as if this were they're last meal. There are several repeat stations around the deck, walk towards the back to find a shorter line. There is also one "Eggs Benedict" station towards the aft and on the starboard side. This is also where the Pizza station is located at lunch time. At lunch there is also a sandwich and Panini station located in the back of deck 10. They have a great ice cream station here too. It is located more mid-ship on the starboard side.
There is an "Afternoon Snack" time buffet too where you can get sushi and other Asian quisine.
- Aqua Spa Cafe- Deck 10. A nice assortment of healthy options. They also make egg white only omelets, smoothies and have citrus infused water.
- Trellis Restaurant -- Decks 4 & 5. If you want to avoid the buffet crowds & ciaos, this may be more your style. Some hours (6:00 & 8:30) may present a wait if you have Select Dining avoid these prime times. There is both a set and a daily menu each meal, so when making plans for where to eat, you may want to stop by and check it out.
- Blu -- Deck 5. This restaurant shares the same forward deck with the Trellis. The Blu entrance is on the Port side (if you're facing the elevators it's on your left). The only people allowed to eat at Blu are those who are part of the "Aqua Class". All others must go next door ; )
- The Pool Grille -- Deck 10. Hamburgers, hot dogs and fries only
- Quisine -- Deck 11. If you are looking for a unique, whimsical take on food and presentation check out Quisine, but be prepared for the $40 up charge.
- SS United States -- Deck 3. This was one of my best meals on the cruise. Great service, quality and preparation of food, but another $40 up charge + wine, if you want it.
- Bistro on 5 -- Deck 5 port side. They charge a $5 cover for each person. Reasonable for the upgrade in quality of food. They have crepes, panini's, salads, soups and desserts.
- Cafe al Bacio -- Deck 5 starboard side. If you are a "coffee snob" like myself, you'll want to be sure to check them out. There is a charge for coffee drinks here, BUT and this is a good but!!! The unique pastries, finger sandwiches and desserts in the case... FREE!!!! Who knew! Not me, that's for sure. I didn't get wind of this little known fact until the second to last day of the cruise!
- Cellar Masters -- Deck 5 starboard side. You can purchase a "wine card" here and use it to buy tastes or glasses at a self-serve wine bar. I looked at the wines they had to offer, but never purchased a card. They also have tapas and a bottle of wine for $25, from 5:00pm- midnight. I never tried this.
Gym and other exercise:
- The gym is located on the most forward portion of deck 10. You have to walk through the Aqua Spa. I missed it the first time. If you are an early bird fitness person and workout before 8:00. Be prepared to wait for treadmills, ellipticals and bikes. Especially on sea days. I waited 10-15 minutes the first morning when I was there around 6:30. Mind you it was extremely cold and windy that day and using the outside track was out of the picture.
- If it works for you, get an early breakfast and then hit the gym while everyone else is at the buffet ; )
- The track on deck 11 is smallish (8 laps/mile) and not too user friendly. Definitely more for walking than jogging.
- Our Cruise Director Ian Cresswell was incredible. Very personable and entertaining.
- Show entertainers were very talented and worth watching.
- Or Naturalist was Brent Nixon. www.naturetalksbybrentnixon.com He is a talented, animated enthusiastic speaker who is extremely passionate about the wildlife, land and history of Alaska. I highly recommend going to all of his presentations if possible. You will not be disappointed, or asleep : )
Excursions & Ports:
- I found several highly recommended excursions using a Cruise Critic search. Most excursions booked outside of the cruise are a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, I waited too long before deciding to go salmon fishing in Ketchikan and. I called numerous outfits the week before my cruise and they were all full. I even got off the ship early and ran around to several places, but no such luck. Recommendation- BOOK EARLY if you want to go with an independent charter.
I highly recommend Orca Enterprises www.alaskawhalewatching.com in Juneau. In order to get on a tender, you must get a Tender Ticket from the staff. The problem was they opened area to get a ticket @ 1:00 and we arrived at 2:00, so you can imagine the CF that caused. Recommendation- get to the ticket area BEFORE 1:00. Especially if you need to get off for an excursion . I ended up having to exchange my number for a lower number from one of the crew who was in-charge of the groups.
- Buffet Breakfast is served in the morning. They recommend that you vacate your stateroom by 8:00 and go to your designated waiting area. I paid for an airport shuttle through Celebrity. When my color and number were called there was A LOT of people (SURPRISE) utilizing the same service. Luckily, my flight was in the afternoon, so I didn't mind. The biggest issue here was after you retrieved your luggage and headed for the bus. There was very little organization and formal "lines". The closer to the bus I got the more chaotic it became. Recommendation- Use the $2 porters. They take your baggage to the front of the line to be loaded on the bus and you jump right on. Just be sure you get on the same bus as your luggage!!