September 26-October 7
Embarkation *** 1/2 - We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel, and the Bellhop picked up our luggage from the room and sent it to the ship! We got on the ship, and were handed a glass of champagne. Our luggage arrived quite fast. And the muster drill meeting place was in the casino. Horrid uncomfortable chairs, surprised people are willing to sit for hours gambling with those chairs!
Stateroom *** (Room) ***** (Butler) - 1063 - We had a Sky Suite and the perks were wonderful. Our Butler, Rikki, went above and beyond. He was the head butler, and personally delivered our wake-up cappucinos all mornings but one! We learned later in the cruise, that he liked delivering it to us because he loved seeing our smiles. If we weren’t in our cabin for afternoon tea, he’d leave something anyway. We also learned being Elite and Cruise Critic put us at the top of their list in Rikki’s section. Canopies were disappointing, two-three stale chips, nuts, olives and a tablespoon of dip. Steward cart was outside our room most days.
The cabin was small for a suite, more like a medium sized room. Lots of noise from the deck above us. As it turned out, on the night leaving of Seattle, the seas were rough, I thought the ceiling was going to fall on top of us with all the rattling. Our cabin steward said he had it worse, with his cabin at the front of the ship. Sometime before we sailed, they had tried to fix the rattling by wedging two pieces of wood in the ceiling. Couldn’t see out the balcony from the sofa, and for us we get the balcony rooms so we can use the sitting area and watch the view.
Dining **** - MDR - Savio & Tatiana did a wonderful job! We placed our standing order for milk, and they brought huge glasses that each took almost three cartons to fill. They had permanent menu of French Onion Soup, Shrimp Cocktail and Escargot. When we ordered the chilled soup (not specified on the menu) Savio always warned me it was cold. Generally better cuts of meat than Royal Caribbean, but the lobster was so tough I couldn’t cut it. Savio offered to send it back, but by that time I didn’t want anything to do with it. But they also had something called New York Steak or New York Sirloin a few times. Not sure if it was steak from New York, but we assumed it wasn’t New York Strip. At breakfast, I ordered a half order of Eggs Benedict and got it with no fuss! Most of the time, we ate in the Island Café because the stairs were just a few steps down the hall from our suite.
Elite Lounge *** - Wine: Chardonney and Cabernet Sauvernon, and weird tasting sparkling wine. Beer was O’Douls, Heinikens and Bud light. Interesting cocktails too. But we're pretty clueless about mixed drinks, and I didn't want to ask.
Photography ** - Everywhere! The shots in the Main Dining Room would have been better without the cleaning bottles behind my husband’s shoulder.
Disembark ***1/2 - We had a late disembark, and waited in the Martini lounge. Not a good place to wait since the lights kept changing color. Made it hard to read. All of a sudden, we were told to leave. After picking up the luggage, we tried to find our bus to take us to our post-cruise hotel. Unfortunately, no one knew where the bus was. The Celebrity Agent pointed in a general direction and told us to wait there. The bus finally appeared, at no time were there any signs directing us where to go. The Embassy Suites booked via Celebrity was wonderful. We got complimentary breakfast as well as access to a complimentary cocktail hour. For some reason, disembarking is always tiring and a post night helped. Also with a post night we got a taxi to drive us to the airport instead of getting dumped at baggage claim like we have with other cruise transfers..
Transfers - We couldn’t book only cruise transfers pre-cruise. But the daily paper said they were selling cruise transfers. Don't know why.
Shore Excursion - Somehow my last review didn't post my excursions, so I'm including them here. Also, a Nanaimo and Astorea were missing from their list
Nanaimo - *** Alberni Valley Steam Powered Adventure - The train was only 35 minutes long, but we had the impression it would be a larger portion of our five hour tour. We had three hours of bus, 35 minutes of train, and the rest at the Sawmill. The refreshments turned out to be three types of sandwiches (including sockeye salmon), soup, cookies and beverage! Title was misleading, because it made us think it was all about the train.
Victoria - *****+ Pedicab (Private) - I had corresponded with Andrew over several weeks, and arranged for a tour when our ship docked. What sold me was when he told me if I missed the ship, he was responsible for getting me to the next port. The day came, and so did the rain. We spotted our guide, Soren. He had put a canopy on the cab and also provided quilted blankets as well as waterproof blankets. Mid-morning, he stopped at a grocery store for coffee on him. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to pedal the cab while holding his umbrella. I was reluctant to take pictures with even my water-resistent camera, and Soren, working hard to keep the camera dry gave us a few shots. Lots of neighborhoods, historic homes. Soren was wonderful stepping off the bike so he could explain while looking at us! We cut the tour short, due to the rain. Soren said it was the rainiest tour in his 17 years with Pedicab. We plan on booking another excursion to catch the parts we missed.
Seattle - Evening Views of Seattle. This was a tour that we didn’t see during pre-cruise, but I spotted it in the handout. The night before we got notice they cancelled it.
Seattle Essentials *** - Time Change to an hour later. Suspect they merged two tours. Pike’s Market was interesting, but the Seattle Space Needle had long lines and we only got about five minutes at the top before we had to come down and to catch the bus. As it turned out, he could have given us a later deadline to catch the bus because we were returned to the ship 30 minutes early.
Astoria **** - Tea at the Flavel House - Tea was disappointing, we had cookies and scones w/ jam but no cream, no sandwiches. Great tour of the house, excellent guide!
San Francisco **** - City Tour w/ Dim Summ Lunch. As advertised. Dim Summ lunch was set menu, family style. A little meat & shrimp, but mostly vegetarian. Dessert and tea included. Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion was blocked off (Government Shutdown?), so we crossed the bridge and saw the Golden Gate Bridge from Vista port. No fog that day! When we lived in Northern California we used to joke about the postcards not being realistic because fog usually covered the top of the bridge. This also got us a good view of the Bay Bridge. We even had time for Golden Gate Park! Disappointed we didn’t get to see the crooked part of Lombard. Due to the government shut down, tours for Alcatraz and Muir Woods were cancelled.
Monterey - *** 1/2 Carmel Mission and Monterey Aquarium. Guide disappeared when we arrived at the Monterey Aquarium. Great combo and lots of free time at each. Lunch facilities at Monterey Aquarium and nearby.
Catalina Island *** - Avalon Scenic and Botanical Garden - Nice overview of island. Wished we could have returned the same way so the people on the other side of the bus with could see the scenery. Botanical Garden was desert terrain. As stated on the ticket, trolley dropped us off about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the ship. For a while, we weren’t sure we were going right direction. Wish they would either given us the option or dropped us off at the ship. Purely a mechanizing ploy on their part, because we saw another bus at the ship picking up another bunch.