I must admit upfront that I was skeptical about cruising since I feared the atmosphere would be similar to being trapped in a floating Las Vegas style hotel/shopping mall, but I'm glad to report that was not the case.
EMBARKATION: After spending the morning and early afternoon exploring Seward, which included taking a local shuttle out to Exit Glacier for hiking, etc. we boarded the ship at 4pm for an 8pm departure. Since we were traveling in AQUA Class, we had priority boarding and were checked-in and on the ship in less than 15 minutes.
PUBLIC ROOMS: The recently refurbished Millennium looked beautiful and every area appeared to be very clean and well-maintained. I didn't see any of the issues mentioned in earlier post-refurbishment reviews related to dirty, worn carpet, stained upholstery, excessive rusting, etc.
CABIN: We were in AQUA Class cabin 1111 on Deck 11, port side. Since it was one of the new cabins added to the ship during the refurbishment, everything in the room was in immaculate shape and in good working order. The enhanced shower head was a plus but there is definitely a design flaw with the shower door that allows water to leak onto the floor. We had to place a rolled up hand towel under the door to catch the water so that it would not soak the bath mat. Sound proofing was excellent and we did not hear any of our neighbors. A plus to a Deck 11 cabin is that you have quick access through a set of stairs at the end of the hallway that leads down to the aft Mast Bar and the buffet area on Deck 10 or in the other direction to the pool and spa area. You can smell food smells from the buffet area in the hallway but it did not penetrate into the cabin. The balcony was spacious and the mesh lounge chairs were very comfortable, but, if it rains, the balcony and chairs will get wet since the overhang from Deck 12 is very small.
DINING: Being assigned to BLU Restaurant as part of the AQUA Class experience was definitely worth the extra money, due mainly to the small quiet room, excellent wait staff, and the ability to always be seated at a table for two near or next to a window. That being said, while the food was all uniformly good, there were only a few dishes I would call outstanding, which included the lobster tail and the lamb dishes. Part of my issue with the food in BLU is that most of the sauces were bland and lacked distinctive flavor, perhaps due to low salt content and a lack of flavoring with herbs. Several passengers I spoke to about the main dining room did have complaints about the quality and preparation (underdone, overdone, etc.) of the food. The lunch offerings in the AUQA Spa Cafe were very good. We did not eat any of the food from the buffet area except cookies and some cheese and bread we picked up for a snack in our room. We did have the enhanced AQUA Class room service breakfast on our balcony a couple of mornings and it was very good.
ACTIVITIES: The only activity areas we used on the ship were the gym and the atrium pool and hot tubs. The weather was too chilly to use the outdoor pool area. We saw one show, a Broadway song book review. The performers were talented but a review of show tunes was just not interesting enough to keep us entertained. We were tired and left before the end of the show. We only did a couple of guided shore excursions, a whale watch in Icy Strait Point were we saw at least 20 whales, and a bus trip to Mendenhall Glacier with a salmon bake.
PORTS: All the ports had something interesting about them to explore but my best advice is to try and get away form the port area and explore the wilderness on your own. We rented a car for the day and were able to drive up the Yukon Highway from Skagway into Canada and to some beautiful lakes and waterfalls outside Ketchikan.
In conclusion, this was a great cruise experience for us and we would definitely sail with Celebrity again. We were very impressed with the level of service and general friendliness of the staff, as well as our fellow passengers.