Let me preface my review by stating the following: The words you are about to read will ultimately fail miserably in capturing the uniqueness of this destination. With that being said... It seems that many reviewers are fond of providing every, excruciating detail of their journey to their point of embarkation.
I'm quite certain you're not reading this review to find out what I wore on the plane or what my daughter ate for lunch at the Minneapolis Airport. I will save you that pain and say only that our trip from Atlanta to Seward was long. The communication at the Anchorage Airport between Celebrity representatives and arriving guests could have been a bit clearer, but a couple of quick questions rectified the confusion and we were soon on a motor coach (air conditioned and restroom) for a two and a half hour drive to Seward. The tremendous scenery made the rather tedious drive bearable. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for the constant narration provided by our well-meaning bus driver. While I'm sure that some people might find our driver's ethnic background a point of interest, none of those people appeared to be on our bus. We stopped halfway to Seward for a restroom break and to stretch our legs. Fast forward to arriving in Seward.
Embarkation process was quick and simple. As for the ship. I am constantly amazed when I read reviews from people who complain that they a saw a loose thread of fabric dangling off of one of the drapes in the main dining room, and that the ship is "showing her age." My opinion: the ship is beautiful. To be honest with you, I think the ship is holding up a lot better than the majority of the guests (did I mention the Alaska itinerary appeals to an overall older crowd)? Summit is clean, decorated in an understated elegance, and roomy enough to forget that there are 2,000 people on board. As for those nitpickers looking under the beds for dust bunnies - surely you didn't spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles to look for grease and grime?
Our oceanview stateroom (it was myself, my wife, and my 4 1/2 yea old daughter) was small, but perfectly adequate. Bed was comfortable, water pressure in shower was great, convertible chair/bed for my daughter was fine, and the service from our room attendants was attentive without being annoying. Be aware: there is NOT a lot of closet space for clothes, and we had to resort to storing our suitcases under our bed, but again, this is not a big deal.
I'll briefly touch on the major aspects of the ship and its amenities, because I really want to focus on the ports of call: main dining room food and service - both were utterly delicious. Entertainment - show in main theatre was surprisingly good. Cirque du Soleil performance - very cool, very interesting, very Cirque. Buffet Dining - long lines of people and food. Quality was perfectly fine. AquaSpa - wife went for a seaweed wrap and massage. She loved the treatment, hated the hard upsell from the staff. Kids program? My daughter seemed to like it, so I guess it's good. Service across the ship was outstanding. The people who work on these ships bust their butts to make your experience something special. This was my wife's first cruise (my second) and she could not stop talking about how much she enjoyed herself.
On to the ports...
Hubbard Glacier. An amazing introduction to the natural wonders that Alaska boasts. Brief mention about the weather during our cruise: FREAKISH!!! Sunny and warm all week. So I lugged sweaters and rain gear and gloves and hats across a continent - big deal! I'm sure if I had brought nothing but polo shirts and shorts it would have rained every day. The ship hovered no more than a couple hundred yards from the face of the glacier, giving everyone ample time and opportunity to get the perfect picture. Mine is on my desktop as I write this.
Next morning arrived in Juneau. Went on a Float Plane Glacier Tour (arranged prior to cruising). The plane was a 10-seater, and by the time I got on I had no choice but to sit in the co-pilot seat. I have about 25 minutes of the flight, from takeoff to touchdown on videotape. The footage? Spectacular. But that doesn't even do it justice. Go! Book a cruise, get yourself on a little plane, point your camera outside the window and be speechless for a half hour. Walked around Juneau for a bit after our flight - nice town, enough shopping to keep you interested.
Next day we arrived in Skagway. Went on the White Pass Yukon Railroad tour. Read a lot about it prior to cruise, with everyone saying how wonderful it was. My opinion? The scenery was awesome, as advertised. But it was also a little...long. I mean, once you reach the summit, and the train turns around, you're seeing the same scenery on the way back to Skagway. Glad I did it, wouldn't do it again. Skagway seemed a lot more crowded than Juneau (there were four ships docked when we were there), so we bought the requisite souvenirs and headed back to the ship.
Next day brought us to the highlight of our trip - Icy Straight Point. When we thought of Alaska, this was what we had in mind. We arrived early in the morning, so it was still quiet when we landed on the dock. We arranged to go on a whale watching tour, but since we had some time to kill we decided to just walk around and explore. We proceeded to walk through the most serene, luxuriously shadowed, verdant forest I have ever seen. You sensed its antiquity as you walked amongst trees that had to be at least a hundred years old. There was nothing to do in the forest but walk, look, and just be. It was a very special place. 11:30 - we board the boat to look for whales. And we saw some. Managed to get the on video, but The Discovery Channel has nothing to worry about.
Next day we stopped at Ketchikan. Signed up for a guided tour of the town and "nature viewing." Mistake! This was through a dockside company that was not affiliated with Celebrity. Note: Do NOT book anything dockside. Our guide left something to be desired - starting with front teeth. When he was not rambling on about his bar tab at a local dive, he was regaling us with tales of when he lived on a little island across from town. Thrilling. Ketchikan was really pretty disappointing. I mean, how much Tanzanite does one really need?
Last day was spent cruising the beautiful Inside Passage, and reflecting on what was for us, a wonderful cruise experience.