Background: We select a cruise based on itinerary, dates, and price. Of our 24 cruises, the first 5 just happened to be on Celebrity, with 3 of them being on the Century. But we have not cruised on Celebrity for the last 5 years, as our selections have been various other lines, all of which we enjoyed. We visited Alaska 2 years ago on HAL. As we really like visiting Vancouver, we decided to take this cruise, and spent an extra 4 nights in Vancouver.
Pre-Cruise: We flew into Vancouver one day early and stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre. A taxi from the airport was $40 on a Saturday at about 11:00. We booked using Hotwire, the first time we have done so. The hotel was very nice and modern, but TO ME seemed over priced since I was only sleeping there for one night. Vancouver is an expensive city.
Embarkation: We took a taxi to Canada Place ($8) at about noon. We were through check in and aboard in about 30 minutes. Very easy. It was then that we noticed some of the "little" things that Celebrity offers, such as being greeted with champagne or mimosas. Our rooms were ready by 1:00.
Cabin: We normally select an inside cabin. It allows us to cruise more often, due to lower cost. Also, we find the darkness allows us a much better sleep. The cabin had more than enough storage space for us, and we did not even use all of the drawers. The shower was at least 50% larger than any other ship we have cruised on. Cabin service was excellent. I also appreciated that there was a "top sheet" on the bed and you did not have to ask for one like you do on some other lines.
Food: This is where we really noticed the Celebrity difference. On many of our other cruises, we have often looked at the evening menu and kind of said, "Maybe I will have that". We also often end up ordering off of the left side of the menu, as none of the featured choices appeal to us. We usually eat a few evenings in the buffet. Not so, here. There were usually 2 or 3 dishes I wanted to try (but only chose 1). All dishes were well prepared and very enjoyable. The beef selections were especially good. Breakfasts and lunches were in the Islands Cafe. They were okay. One thing I did notice was that on this cruise, servers were behind the buffet to place the food on your plate. Some people do not like this, but I do. They will serve you as much as you want, but I did not see any of the mass "gluttony" I have witnessed on other ships, with people wasting much food. In my opinion, people who complain about the food on a cruise ship must have a wonderful home life. Also, we had any time dining. We dined about 7 to 8 and never had to wait for a table. Also, we were always given a table for 2, and never asked if we wished to share a table, as has happened on most other cruise lines.
Murano: We always try the specialty restaurant on a ship. Murano offered a very nice experience, but at $40 pp seems a little steep. It was nice, but we probably would not do it again.
Formal Night: We stopped doing formal night after about 10 cruises. We simply don't feel the need to "dress up" for a few hours, but we realize it is a big deal to many people and Celebrity continues the practice. However, as we approached the dining room, I was offered a sport coat to wear to dinner. Okay. It did not fit correctly, and as soon as I was seated, the waiter appeared and told me that I could feel free to hang it on the back of my chair. Okay. I noticed quite a few men hanging their coats on their chairs, some Celebrity coats and some their own coats. To me, it is just a personal comfort thing. I was happy to wear their coat for my "entrance" if it "comforted" other diners.
Entertainment: 24 cruises. We have seen enough dance shows. BUT, we did go to the first performance, where they briefly introduce most of the acts that will be performing. We enjoyed it so much that we attended all of the evening performances, even including the farewell and crew shows. Comedian and magician/comedian were also enjoyable. Cruise director, Sue ???, is the best I have ever seen. She even did her own musical show one evening. Great singing voice. Lounge entertainment was also very good. Milos, the naturalist, was very good. He gave narration during our time at Hubbard Glacier and also "lectures" each afternoon.
Ports: We enjoyed nice weather for most of the cruise. Hubbard Glacier was the highlight for us. It was a nice, sunny day. Beautiful to see. Icy Strait Point is really nothing, unless you take a very pricey excursion. We chose to take the scenic walk into town (1.5 miles). We rode the shuttle back to the ship. Juneau we had visited 2 years ago. This time, we rented a car from National (about 1 mile from dock, but they picked us up). We drove to Mendenhall glacier and walked to Nugget Falls. Easy walk and very beautiful.
We also drove around the area, seeing other scenic places and had lunch at the Island Pub in Douglas. We used the car for about 6 hours, and then returned to the ship and used the pool and hot tubs. Ketchikan was a rainy day. We stayed on board, used the gym (nice facility) and took a long nap.
Dis-Embarkation: We asked for 9:30 and were given it. It took about 20 minutes to clear immigration.
Post Cruise: We stayed at the Ramada Limited on Pender Street. We pulled our suit cases to the hotel, about 10 minutes. We stayed 3 nights. Very nice older hotel. Room was okay (for a 100 year old building). Looked as though it had been recently remodeled. Bathroom was very large and nice. Breakfast was included. Good location to catch public transportation. We really enjoyed our time in Vancouver and hope to return some day. Would definitely consider the Ramada, again. On departure day, we pulled our suitcases to the Waterfront Station, paid $3.75 pp to take the Canada Line to the airport. We left the hotel at 8:00, on a Wednesday, and were through customs and waiting for our plane by 9:00. Easy.
Conclusion: We may go to Alaska, again, but will probably look for a cruise one way between Vancouver and Anchorage. We will definitely look to cruise on Celebrity, again. As I said, we have enjoyed all of our cruises, but this one seemed just a little bit special.