Celebrity Century Cruise Review by islandjacquelin: Spectacular Alaska on the Century
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Spectacular Alaska on the Century
Alaska has been on my bucket list for a long time. This year we took the plunge and booked a 7 night Vancouver Round Trip cruise to Alaska on the Celebrity Century - myself, my husband and our four kids ages 10, 13, 14 and 16. It was a wonderful family adventure enjoyed in different ways by all of us.
As we live in Victoria on Vancouver Island, we traveled by ferry to Vancouver. As walk on passengers we then took public transit (one bus and then sky train - fairly easy even with large suitcases)to Canada Place. Embarkation was very smooth - the only slow area was through US customs, a long line but lots of agents working so it went fairly quickly. Before we knew it we had gotten our sea passes and were on board.
I had read many things about the Century, but as a first time cruiser I found it to be a lovely ship, with beautiful woodwork and bright, spacious public areas. It was spotless throughout and crew could be seen cleaning and polishing around the ship at all More times. The large staircase mid ship is beautiful, and the many areas of the ship like rendezvous square, the crystal lounge, hemisphere and the main pool deck provided ample space - it never felt overly crowded, even though the ship was close to full. Yes, there was some wear and tear and updating could be done, but overall it was in very good repair and because it was always so clean it was nice to be anywhere on the ship.
We had booked an outside cabin and an inside quad cabin across the hall from each other on deck 5. These were surprisingly spacious, with lots of room for storage - even for the kids sharing the quad. The beds were comfortable - although a mattress topper should be standard when moving two beds together to form a double bed. The kids found the lower and upper berths in their cabin to be comfortable and big enough to fit even our 5'10" son. They were kept very clean and our cabin steward Urban was fantastic - friendly and very helpful.
All of the crew were attentive, responsive to any request, and very friendly. Officers were everywhere - and very approachable. They participated in a number of activities, from Dancing with the Stripes to a Polar Bear plunge, and always had a friendly word for everyone. The crew really makes this ship a pleasure to be on!
There were a wide variety of activities for all ages. Our kids actually enjoyed the jr and sr teen programs - there were 100 or so kids on our cruise. Lots of different activities and a place to connect with other kids was a great break for everyone!! We adults enjoyed the art auction and lectures, scrapbooking, fitness activities and just relaxing in one of the many comfy chairs around the ship. Cova Cafe was a great place to hang out with a book and a latte. Everyone enjoyed the naturalist, Milos, who was funny and informative.
The entertainment was mixed - the Stars of the Century programs were good - great dancers and singers, especially the aerial flyers, but very, very loud - we saw some older people leaving because it was just too much sound for the small theater. The comedian was not enjoyed by us, but the magician was good. We missed the special group Wildfire, but others we met really enjoyed them. The party band was just average, the jazz trio was fantastic.
The food was incredible - delicious, great variety, wonderful presentation. Most everything we ate was delicious with a few exceptions - which were quickly replaced with something else. Our servers, Candida and Azhari, were exceptional, making us feel very much at home, and helping our kids to select new foods to try and enjoy. The service was very, very good, and the variety and abundance of food overwhelming at times. The Islands Cafe food was also generally excellent, and although none of us really liked the sushi, the pizza, served hot and fresh all day, was yummy! Seating could sometimes be a problem, we learned to go at slightly off hours to avoid high traffic. We did not dine at the specialty restaurant.
We enjoyed all of the ports we visited- Icy Strait, Juneau and Ketchikan- they are described in more detail in the port review section.
A true highlight of the trip was our visit to Hubbard Glacier. We were so fortunate to have perfect weather and conditions, and the Captain was able to get the ship to less than a half mile from the glacier - the closest ever for the Century. It was sunny, clear and utterly spectacular. We witnessed multiple calving events of varying sizes - the sounds and sights were incredible.
When it was time (sadly) to disembark, things went very smoothly - we had an 8:50 am time and were off the ship and at the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal via bus and sky train by 10:15 am.
Overall, it was magical family vacation with something for everyone, and so much that we could all enjoy together. I would happily sail to Alaska on Century again - both Alaska and the Century were perfect for this first time cruiser! Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Century Oceanview Stateroom Plaza Deck (5) 5046
Port and Shore Excursions
We booked a whale watch excursion privately with Glacier Winds. Shawn and Teresa are both native Alaskans and have lived in Hoonah for many years, Shawn, the captain, grew up there. We saw a large number of humpback whales - some even came so close we could smell their terrible breath, despite our attempts to remain at a distance! No breeching, but lots of great whale tail photos and close encounters with the large, majestic humpbacks. We also saw a number of small deer, eagles and a large eagles nest, along with Dall's porpoise and sea lions. Everything was very well organized with clear instructions and communications in advance. A great experience and a real highlight!
We took the blue shuttle from the dock to Mendenhall Glacier - it was very easy and inexpensive - $14 return ( we got a group discount of $2 p/p as there were 6 of us)it leaves both the dock and the glacier on the hour and half hour. It took about 15 minutes to get to the glacier. We spent about 2 hours exploring, hiking and viewing the glacier and visitor centre. It was a sunny day and the glacier is stunning to see.
Returning to Juneau downtown, we took the tram up Mt Roberts and were treated to fantastic views of the whole valley. This would not be great on an overcast day! We also hiked a bit around at the top of Mt Roberts, seeing lovely wildflowers and interesting First Nations carvings in trees along the trail. It is a bit pricey for the short trip, but the views were worth it and being out in Alaskan nature can't be beat.
We walked around downtown and were basically overwhelmed by all the jewelry and souvenir stores. I am not sure who is buying all those diamonds, but there were a LOT of shops. We enjoyed a quick visit to the Sate Museum, which has a good collection, and headed back to the ship.
We picked up a map from the Visitor's Center and followed the walking tour of downtown. Highlights were the Totem Heritage Center, which has a good collection of poles ( we are very familiar with West Coast art, as we live at the coast), and we enjoyed Creek Street, including Dolly's House. It was expensive for what it offered, but interesting, and a fascinating view of women's history in Alaska.
We saw many spawning salmon in the creek and at the fish ladder. We also took the funicular (outside elevator) up from Creek Street, which was fun, and enjoyed an Alaskan Amber in the lounge int he hotelat the top!This is owned an operated by a local First Nation.
The downtown walk provided a good overview of the area and took about 3.5 hours with lots of stops.