Celebrity Solstice Inside Passage ' Beautiful Alaska!
We arrived in Seattle one day prior to cruise. We were very pleased with Shuttle Express private car service. We chose private car over shared shuttle to maximize our one day in Seattle. Private car from Airport to Hotel and then Pier 91 to Airport was only $18 more total after using AAA discount. We stayed at Red Lion Hotel which was ideally situated to walk around downtown Seattle. We wish we had planned at least two full days to explore Seattle.
Red Lion bellman called for taxi for trip to Pier 91 - cost was $16 before tip and took 22 minutes in traffic. We timed arrival to Pier 91 very well ' at ~11 am crowds were nonexistent. Pier employee who checked us in said it would be much more crowded after 11:30. Total time from pier arrival to welcome glass of champagne on ship ' 6 minutes! Some other passengers mentioned a 1 hour wait to check in later in the day. We kept a backpack and one small carryon bag with our camera, electronics etc. with us. Placed luggage tags on all other bags. Oceanview Caf' on Deck 14 and Bar on Deck 15 were both open for lunch. Announcements were made every 15 minutes that rooms were still being prepared for arrival; we were able to get to our room around 1:20 pm. Bags arrived between 4 and 4:30 pm.
We had one very minor issue in our room and our Room Steward Magno, had maintenance handle our request promptly. Magno and his assistant Solento were great. They cleared out the mini fridge as requested, provided great service and made sure the room was spotless and the ice bucket was filled every day.
Although we had great weather, it is definitely a crapshoot and you should take a rain jacket for each port just in case. Umbrella is provided for your use on the cruise.
We attended almost all of Naturalist Brent Nixon's shows; he was very entertaining and informative. Broadway show was just OK, but the Solstice Circus show was great. Solstice Today was delivered each night with all info you need including weather for next day. The solarium on the ship was a great place to unwind with a book or just to relax and take a nap. Breakfast and lunch was very casual on the ship. Oceanview caf' was usually pretty crowded; you could get a quieter breakfast in the Grand Epernay Main dining room. Brunch was served on last full sea day from 10 am ' 1 pm. Formal night outfits for women ranged from slacks with a dressy shirt to long gowns. Cocktail dress or regular dress was most common. Formal night attire for men was a suit or slacks and sport coat. A few men wore tuxedos. All other nights were business casual.
Not knowing what to expect, I took too many clothes ' I wish I had packed less dress clothes and more casual clothes. For dinner, I could have easily gotten away with 2 pairs of dress pants and 3 mix and match tops ' we ate dinner 4 out of 7 nights in the main dining room. We chose Select Dining and made reservations every morning based on our activities for the day; it was tough to make dining reservations on the phone but you could make reservations at Guest Relations. The ship was full, ~2800 passengers but only seemed crowded in the Oceanview Caf' and occasionally when reboarding after port. You must go through security to reboard the ship.
Ports/Excursions: Celebrity Excursion employees were always handy to direct you and answer any questions.
Tracy Arm Fjord - Tracy Arm Fjord and the Sawyer Glacier were the highlights of our trip. The best advice I was given regarding this Alaskan cruise ' set a clock and be on deck early to get a good spot for the spectacular views at Tracy Arm. We got to the top deck by 6:15 am. This was the coldest part of our cruise ' you will need a jacket, scarf and gloves if you plan to stay outside. Temp was in the 30's if you stayed on the top deck. We did not mind the cold, all other days were very mild so it made us truly feel like we were in Alaska. You could also view the scenery from the observation lounge, the solarium or a window seat at the Oceanview Caf', but we wanted to be outside for this part of the trip.
Celebrity requested that all passengers disembark by 9:30 am and breakfast was served until 8:30 am.
Celebrity's luggage valet worked great ($20 per person) and after setting our checked luggage outside room at 11 pm the last night on the ship ' we were happy to see our luggage arrive safely at baggage claim at our home airport. Because we used luggage valet, we were able to disembark at our leisure. We rolled our carryon luggage off the ship around 8:15, found a Shuttle Express employee and waited less than 10 minutes for our ride back to the airport which took about 30 minutes. If you did not choose luggage valet, you were grouped by departure time and assigned to wait in specific area of the ship and then released in groups. You then located your luggage in an assigned section in large warehouse area at Pier 91 ' this process seemed to be organized, but the area was very crowded.
Did not really experience rough seas, but did feel the motion, when in the main dining room since it was aft of the ship. We determined that our forward cabin was a good choice. We did take less drowsy dramamine on sea days and when we were doing water excursions.
Although definitely not the cheapest cruise we could have taken we were very happy with the Celebrity Solstice and would highly recommend this cruise. It is hard to imagine that any other area of the country can rival the scenery and wildlife in Alaska.