Celebrity Century Cruise Review by Jatimer: Family Adventure to Alaska
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Family Adventure to Alaska
We had a three generation cruise to Alaska on the Century in August 2013. My wife and I travelled with my parents, veterans of many cruises, and our three kids aged 10, 13 and 15. For us it was our third cruise, the first two being Caribbean cruises on the NCL Jewel and the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas.
We set out from Victoria the morning of the cruise arriving at Canada Place around 10:30. We had prepaid for parking to obtain a discount and had some confusion figuring out how to obtain our ticket and where the best place to park was, but the parking garage did have plenty of people around to help. Embarkation was the fastest we have ever done despite the extra step of preclearing USA customs. We were on the ship by 11. My parents arrived about 30 minutes later than we did and got caught in much longer lines but still got through in decent time.
Of course, most of our opinions are compared with our experiences on two other ships. This was the smallest and More oldest ship we have sailed on. Our impression from the beginning to the end of the cruise was that the ship itself looks quite worn and in desperate need of a cosmetic makeover. On the other hand,it was very clean and well maintained. The ship certainly did not have all the bells and whistles of other ships, however they kept a busy schedule of activities throughout the cruise so that you could keep busy. I would say that we generally preferred the other ships we have sailed on. That being said, the service level and food on this ship were better that Royal Caribbean and much better than Norwegian (cruises we both really enjoyed).
There may not be tons of food options on this ship compared with newer ones, but they are all well done. The included in the cost options compared with other lines are much better. Multiple flavours of hard ice cream are made on ship daily and almost always available. The coffee bar includes not only for sale cookies as on NCL or free cookies as RC but also cakes and pastries and other goodies all included. The pizza was extremely good and offered late. The buffet was a buffet and so not up to the standard of the dining room, but was very good. We ate breakfast here a few times, lunch a few times, dinner once and snacks often. The only disappointing thing was the Mexican themed dinner buffet. But even then I had a great stir fry cooked in front of me, and the sushi was made in front of us and was excellent. They also had a pasta making station that was open late and very good. We only tried the poolside grill once, for fish and chips on the Hubbard Glacier day, and it was very good. The main dining room was the best we have had at sea. Our wait staff was always bringing extra food to the table, thinking that we should try this dish as well. There was very little we did not enjoy and if we did not, our waiter was always asking if we wanted to trade it for something else. Our table was beside the window and offered great views. We also did several breakfasts and a couple of lunches in the MDR. The food was a step up over the buffet, and at lunch offered the best steak of the cruise. We did find the service at breakfast and especially lunch could be quite slow and the breakfast menu could have done with a little variety. The food highlight was the brunch in the MDR on the last day. The food was fantastic with a multitude of options presented beautifully.
Our cabins were well looked after. My wife and I were in a balcony room (8158) with the kids across the hall in an inside cabin (8160). I was a little worried with the location as it was directly above the casino but we never noticed it and found the cabin quiet. The kids had a cot rolled in which made their room tight, but it worked. They had plenty of storage space. Their room steward made a big fuss of them (extra chocolates on pillows, decorating their room with towel animals). Our steward looked after problems quickly and efficiently. We really enjoyed the balcony on this particular cruise with all the scenery. The staterooms do need an update but they were very clean. Most cruise line beds can be separated into two single beds, and this was the first one we noticed that to be true as the two parts were not quite the same height.
My 10 year old attended kids club a lot. For his age group they did many scavenger hunts, which struck me as a way to send the kids off and keep them busy, but he had fun. The staff was good. The teens never really got into the teen club. We met the teen leader a few times and he was exceptionally friendly and inviting but for whatever reason they did not really get involved. Our impressions as parent were that we were impressed with the teen club.
The pool area was nice. One pool was heated and one was not. The colder one was drained at the Hubbard glacier and filled with glacier water for a Polar Bear swim, which two of my kids took part in. The hot tubs were a bit too hot one day but were generally very good.
My wife and daughter each had a massage in the spa, while I went for a shave. It was a typical ship board spa although we did not find the hard sell at the end to buy their products quite as bad as on other ships.
The evening programs were varied. The theater itself has many poor seats. One night my wife had a partially obstructed view and I had no view at all. We found the ship board dance and singing team to be talented, but the shows they did were fine, but not spectacular. The comedian was great, the magician was pretty good as was the Wildfire singing group. Other ship board musicians were very good. There was a naturalist and other speakers participating in enrichment programs throughout the cruise.
I will mention Hubbard Glacier here. We had a beautiful sunny day at Hubbard, which I understand is unusual. We got within a half mile of the glacier and enjoyed one of the most beautiful places any of us has seen. This morning was worth the whole cruise.
Like embarkation, disembarkation was the easiest we have done. We asked for a 9:30 disembarkation. We arrived at our designated spot at 9:15 to be called almost immediately. We pulled out of the parking garage just before 9:40. Under 25 minutes to go through all the lines, get our luggage, find our car, and pull out.
Overall, we loved the cruise. As I have said, the Century needs an update, but it did not take away from the exceptional service encountered everywhere and the great food. Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Century Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Veranda Panorama Deck (8) 8158
Quiet despite the location above the casino. Easy to get anywhere on the ship. Clean but in need of an update. Fantastic storage closets! Great views from balcony.
Port and Shore Excursions
Beautiful location. We did not take an excursion and instead elected to just get off the ship and see what we can do. Unlike most ports there is no chance to find an independent tour operator port side. We did the nature walks along the shore and through the forest. It was a sunny afternoon so we even waded into the Pacific. The shopping area was nice, but of course pricey. Wish we would have headed into Hoonah, shuttles were available. Canoeing and zip line looked fun. However, the thing with the zip line was the price compared with how long it really takes to go down did not make it look worthwhile. Enjoyed ourselves but a few hours was good enough to see everything.
Did the Guide Choice Hike. Had beautiful sunshine and a great day. We did it with our teens. There were two other couples also in our party. The hike was described as a hard hike. It was a really good climb at a fairly brisk pace but not extreme. We saw the salmon heading upriver and had tremendous views of the glacier and mountains. Had a really good guide, Cortney, who was confident and informative. We were given a couple of choices of things to do. It was a great workout, informative, and gave views those who just shuttle over to the glacier do not get. Our guide even extended our time by a little bit to try to find bears (which we never did see). We arrived back at the ship at around 12:15 so still had time to see some of Juneau's downtown.
Snorkeling in Alaska - who would have thought it! We have snorkeled a few times in the Caribbean and this is a very different experience. As others have said, the thick wet suits are very hard to get on, but kept us very warm. It was sunny when we were in the water but rained right before and right after. The water was clearer than I thought and we saw tons of sea life. I was surprised how much you could see right off the coast. They had prescription masks for people like me who are nearsighted that worked really well. The guides were first rate, friendly and very attentive. There were three in the water with us - Marcus, Marie and Cassie. No complaints and nothing but praise.
A Fond Farewell to the Century...
A trip of a lifetime.