We just got back from the Inside Passage tour. First thing, having nothing to do with the cruise line or ship, all travelers to Alaska should be prepared for two kinds of weather 1. Rain 2. About to Rain. This was passed on to us by locals and it is true. Indeed, I have spoken to folks who went and had a week of balmy sunny summer weather. Don't expect it. Prepare for the worst and be pleased if it doesn't happen. We actually got rained on just once but saw only traces of sunshine. OK ... that put aside ... onto the review. DO NOT LET RAIN put a damper on your vacation. As the scouts motto says, "Be Prepared."
When you read my scores, please realize that I am a harsh critic. We had a great time, the ship, food, excursions, etc., etc. were all very nice but I only score a "6" if I can't imagine any room for improvement. I really hate surveys where the "prime" you to score everything Excellent because people get ripped up for a score of Good. Such surveys are totally bogus and an indication that the evaluator is not really interested in constructive criticism (by the way, everyone on the cruise staff "primes" you to score them Excellent lest they have dire consequences on a personal level. Sheesh!).
Here are just a few random highlights & lowlights:
* Food remains good though, having gone on 2 other Celebrity cruises prior, I believe the food quality is stepping down a bit from service a few years ago. * The buffet has some interesting and good new twists including descent sushi, salad bar (dressings are weak), sandwich bar * Ship remains very clean and comfortable. * Very nicely equipped gym with enough machines for everyone with only a minimal wait. * Staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful ... particularly as it regards assisting my M-i-L who needed help with wheelchair. (See the exception listed under Lowlights). * Entertainment is GREATLY improved (at least on this cruise) vs. the prior Celebrity cruises. It was the best entertainment we've seen on a cruise. The comedian, as usual, was lame. * Great new diversity in the "enrichment" type activities on board ... courses, guest speakers on political, nature topics, health, book discussions, etc. This is a great alternative to those who have no interest in the usual trivia, dating game, bingo stuff. A relaxed state is a great time to expand your mind (and it does not hurt). * Good excursions. Having done the Carib and Bermuda (Ahh, yawn), it was a nice change to have things to do out in the gorgeous natural environment. An Alaska cruise is the time to be adventurous. If you're not, your really miss out on a unique experience. Don't just go for the tame. I like the Back Country Jeep and Canoe trip ... not too physically strenuous but gets you out into the semi-wild. Don't miss the opportunity to helicopter onto a glacier. As a minimum, take a one hour walkabout (we did a two hour trek which was a bit more physically demanding). * When they come into the Hubbards Glacier get tough! Put on your warm clothes and get up on the bow! It's a lot of fun even though crowded. Grab a hot chocolate with a shot of Bailey's and you are set.
* This may be a nit but the fruit is not of the same quality of earlier cruises. Less berries too (I like fresh berries of all kinds). * The Celebrity accounting system was a mess. They lost our return transfer info. Then, after two trips to the Services desk, things were still screwed up in that the folks on the dock had no record of our booking the transfer. As it turns out, it is totally unnecessary and a waste of money. Just take a cab. You have to manhandle your bags anyway. * The term "hot tub" is a misnomer. They really have a "warm tub" which, to me, is just disgusting.
Overall ... we still love Celebrity and will cruise with them again. Next ... onto Europe ...