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Celebrity Century Cruise Review by TheMediaman: May 18-25, 2014 Celebrity Century Vancouver-Alaska-Vancouver 7 day cru


TheMediaman
1 Review
Member Since 2010
82 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 4.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 3.0
Entertainment 3.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates Not Rated
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 4.0
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Celebrity Century Alaska Cruises

May 18-25, 2014 Celebrity Century Vancouver-Alaska-Vancouver 7 day cru

Sail Date: May 2014
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Vancouver

The Century is a bit of a grande dame at the end of her refurbishment cycle and as such has a few age spots. It is a moot point now that the Century is leaving the Celebrity fleet in 2015. Indeed the décor and the interior spaces are not comparable to the Las Vegas opulence of the mega ships. Many Century cruisers have negatively commented on the state of the Century giving the impression the ship is in a state of shabby disrepair. This is not true. Yes there are rust spots here and there; some faded signs, patches on the pool deck and upper deck walking areas and a few anomalies in staterooms such as chipped laminate or blemishes in bathroom tiles however the ship is very clean and the maintenance staff are very visible in their daily chores cleaning interior and exterior spaces.

Century is not a small ship but it is dwarfed by the Solstice class. Century takes 1850 +/- passengers aboard but in our 7 days we never felt crowded with the exception of glacier viewing and More that’s true aboard any ship.

Century is an ideal ship for port intensive itineraries. It lacks the abundance of onboard distractions of the larger ships which can leave a lot of spare time during seas days. During our 2 sea days we kept ourselves busy by “whale walking” which was walking the perimeter of the ship to burn off calories while spotting whale spouts and porpoises. We engaged our fellow passengers who were extremely approachable and we had many fun conversations.

Stateroom

We had aft balcony stateroom 8233 by pure luck. We had booked an inside but saw a deal we couldn’t pass up to upgrade to a veranda guarantee. It is a family veranda stateroom and the oddity is the double bed is against the wall on one side. It cannot be separated. One person has to climb over the other to get out of bed which can result in some interesting and rudely awakening hand placement in the middle of the night. The other half of the stateroom features a fold out couch and upper berth folded against the wall. A sliding panel can separate the two areas. At 194 square feet it is larger than the 175 square foot standard port or starboard veranda staterooms with the same sized veranda at 49-ish square feet. The concierge suites have deeper verandas, not wider.

Why did we like aft versus port or starboard?

The aft cabins give 180 degrees views from port to starboard and they are protected from the wind. The sound of the propwash is calming white noise like ocean waves. It was odd that of the 40 or so aft veranda cabins we only saw 2 or 3 others in use and we sat on ours a lot. Go grab a blanket from the pool deck. Drape over your lap during cooler days and we had a day where we wore shorts on our veranda which was incredible for May.

Vibration and noise. There was some concern that the aft staterooms would be susceptible to vibrational noise. This was not true except on our very last night where we suspect something “broke”. At 1:52 AM the ship began to shudder and did so until we tied up at 6:45 AM. The MDR staff were surprised as well. They had to straighten up all the cutlery that had vibrated around the tables.

Deck 8 aft staterooms are directly above the Crystal Room lounge and if you are the type that goes to the early (6PM) dinner seating and toddles off to bed by 9:30PM then directly above a lounge may not be the ideal choice. One deck separation in that location would be better. We like the 8:30 PM seating so we are not rushed and by the time we got back to our cabin around 11:30 PM there was 4 or 5 muffled songs then at 12 midnight it all shut off. It did not bother us a bit.

To veranda or not veranda in Alaska

This question is asked repeatedly in every forum. My simplest answer is yes if it is acceptable within your budget. The views at any time of day can be worth it especially if the weather is good. We originally had an inside cabin but saw a stupid good deal and rolled the dice on a balcony guarantee. We felt we won for what we paid in comparison to what we got. If you do have an inside cabin then get up on deck or to an upper lounge. Those places have the same view as Aqua, Concierge or veranda for less money. The point of cruising is to cruise and see things.

What we noticed aboard the Century

All the seats, beds, sofas are low. You felt like you were at the kids table in the MDR. It could be a bit of an effort for those with mobility concerns or whom are more senior to get in and out of chairs and/or bed. We are in our mid-40s and there were a few grunts getting out of a chair. Perhaps those grunts were enhance by the sheer amount of food we shovelled in.

Main Dining Room

MDR - We’ve only cruised Royal Caribbean to compare. Both lines offered excellent service in the MDR but the food was one “tick” above on Celebrity; just enough to notice a difference. Many cruisers commented that the services seemed a bit smaller. As an example rack of lamb was a choice one night and it came with 3 ribs and 4 would have been perfect. I noticed the steaks were not as good and a bit sinewy or fatty. This was not enough to complain about but something we all “just noticed”. That being said if you wanted two entrees you could have them and it we shared all the time if we wanted to try another entrée besides our favorites.

Murano

Murano specialty restaurant. Definitely not worth it in my humble opinion. We’ve done fine dining land-based and aboard other ships and while I cannot fault the food or level of service of Murano I found the whole experience a bit pretentious and, to be forward, a cash grab. The wine menu is more expensive than MDR and you cannot get the same choices. Many are attracted to Murano for the Five Senses menu but, like us, are taken aback when the $89 USD wine pairing fee is additional and mandatory to the $45 USD table fee.

We enjoy a fine dining experience. It is one of our guilty treats beyond the cruise itself. We did not enjoy Murano. It is not a complaint of budget but the overall experience left us feeling as if the side show barker had taken our money, lead us into the tent to see the bearded lady. It was further compounded by fellow passengers telling us that they were approached and offered a 30% discount and a free glass of champagne to book Murano. The restaurant was not fully booked for our cruise. French cuisine does favor tableside preparation and, at times, it felt as if we were there for the staff to pay attention to their show.

The table next to us, contrary to our experience, was enjoying a second night at Murano. Some may enjoy Murano while others may not. I cannot recommend it based on our overall experience.

The ports

The real Alaska? No. You’ll see the tourist Alaska but you won’t regret it. The views are worth it and if you have never experienced West Coast rainforest cruising or even a walk in the woods then you’ll be thrilled.

Icy Strait Point – a tiny stop which will be enjoyable to those who have never experienced a West Coast rainforest environment. If you’ve lived in the big city, or places such as Texas, Arizona or the Midwest all of your life then this will definitely be a change. At the very least go walking about and experience the shoreline and the nature trail. It will be a pleasant distraction for a couple of hours. The zip line is pricey. Some do. Some don’t. The choice is yours along with your wallet. And always with any E-ticket ride there’s the gift shop at the end.

Hubbard Glacier – worth the price of the cruise especially if the weather is good. Good means not raining or foggy. Any improvement from there is an absolute bonus. Get out on deck. Listen to the glacier cracking and believe me it does. Enjoy the sight. An insider tip is go to the promenade on deck 7 aft. No one goes there and you can walk from port to starboard as the ship spins and not be in the elbow to elbow top deck area. If you watch it from inside than you are missing 95% of the experience.

You may hear the naturalist exclaim that “this is the closest they’ve gotten to the Glacier this season”. Take it with a grain of salt. We were the first ship in this season and got to the ½ mile legal limit of the glacier and we got the “this is the closest they’ve gotten to the Glacier this season” line. It’s part of the show and by no means diminishes the experience. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.

Juneau – like Ketchikan it is a tourist shopping mall. Native Alaskan moccasins made in Canada, overpriced 12-14” high totem poles, 3 for $9.99 T-shirts and the Caribbean jewelry stores. There are some treasures to be had and it all depends on your tastes and expectations. The tram to the top of the hill is $32 USD tax in and debatable for what you paid for. Yes it is a nice view and yes there are a few trails and a gift shop. I would not have felt I have missed anything if I did not go up. Then again I live on the west coast in Vancouver BC so it’s sort of my back yard. For those from other non-mountainous, non-rainforest areas…get out in nature. It really is just a cool thing to be in it even if you have to pay a bit.

Tracey Arm Fjord excursion

We did do the ship excursion to Tracy Arm Fjord with Allen Marine Tours. Yes ship excursions are pricier but we chose this excursion because the boat has a two level top viewing platform area. Plenty of room for the 40 passengers to get happy snaps. The other non-cruise line company has aft and bow viewing areas which looked a bit crowded. We got to both Sawyer and South Sawyer glacier, saw a bear and stared and the seals lazily sunning themselves on the ice flows. Tracy Arm Fjord is magnificent scenery when the weather is good. I don’t have the experience to say if a ship or an excursion can always or does always make it all the way to the glacier. I’ve read a lot in these forums and am still debating if it is a time sensitive decision or ice sensitive decision for ships to stop short.

Was it worth it even at the higher shipboard excursion cost? We had a beautiful sunny day so yes and more yes. It’s different viewing from a smaller vessel 2 foot off the water than 14 decks above.

Ketchikan – 1600 feet this way or 1600 feet that way. You’ve seen Ketchikan. It’s a shopping mall with the same stores as Juneau. It is okay to walk about and poke your head in the stores. Go see the logger show if you’ve never seen anything like that in your life.

Cruising the west coast

It is uniquely different than anywhere else. While it is home for us other passengers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Midwest and so on were stunned by the scenery. It wasn’t lost on us either. It can be a great way to travel but cruising may not be for you if you want to have control over where you are going each day and how long you stay.

Bears, whales, porpoises and dolphins

Everyone wants to see them. Everyone who pays expects to see them. There are a few who never do.

Whale Watching excursions – while mostly successful the amount of success varies. No excursion wants to honor a money back guarantee. The whale you spot may only be the spout or glimpse of a tail. Some fellow passengers had great success on an excursion spotting upwards of 15-20 in the group with a half dozen “great tail shots”. We kept our eyes open aboard ship and spotted whales upwards of 20 different times during our cruise which varied a distant spout or tail from a 1-2 miles off to a whale 100 feet off the aft of the ship while we were anchored at Icy Point Strait. Mostly they were off in the distance but were our “freebee excursion” aboard ship. We saw many groups of dolphins and porpoises. You learn to spot the difference. One very lucky evening a group of 50+ frolicked in our wake as we passed. Yes 2 or 3 dolphins leapt out of the water in forward summersaults. We were extremely fortunate. We saw one small bear ½ mile off on the shore from the Tracey Arm Fjord excursion boat before it hustled back into the treeline.

The trick is to keep your eyes open. Get out on the deck and watch. Eventually you will start to spot spouts or fins off in the distance from time to time. When you see your first one the rest will follow. It won’t be up close and personal but you will see them. Wildlife doesn’t wait around for you just because you paid and there are no Disney animatronics waiting for you to pass.

What to wear

Another question that is asked repeatedly. I’m not an expert but I can say with all confidence bring clothing for rain, sun and one day of cold at the glacier. Layers are the key. One heavy jacket is a mistake. We had gloves and a toque (Canadianism for Sock Hat for you southern US folks) for the glacier days. It can be very cold on deck. It rained 3 inches in Ketchikan the day prior but we enjoyed warm sun while in port; shirt sleeves and jeans. Bring suntan lotion to protect your face against wind burn and/or sunny ship/excursion days. I wandered about the ship comfortably in jeans and short sleeves during the day and business casual at a minimum during the evening. For me cruising is about dressing up a bit in the evening but that’s my choice.

Alaska weather is a lottery. If you wake up and it’s sunny and warm then you are enjoying a bonus. If you are prepared for rain then you are wise. If you dress in layers then you can always be comfortable. It could be swimming weather, foggy, rainy, sunny, warm, cool, cold or anywhere in between. We went in May and the week before it was rain. It predicted rain during our week but we had 80% sun. You rolls the dice and you takes your chances.

Embarkation – debarkation

Our experience was smooth and trouble free in Vancouver, BC. We were on the ship in 20 minutes and off of it in less time including customs. It all depends on how many ships are in at Canada Place and Ballantyne Pier that day. The day before 14,500 cruisers came in and out making for a frustrating day for both passengers and staff. Our embarkation-debarkation days saw less than half that amount. We arrived mid-morning, customs line was 10-15 minutes, another 5 at the check-in desk and then we walked right on board. Debarkation was even easier. We waited for our number, walked off the ship, handed our declaration form to customs, walked past the welcome to Vancouver sign and there was our luggage in the terminal. We are local so we took the skytrain home however the taxi cab line appeared to be 30-60 minutes long. Canada Place isn’t confusing. Follow the signs. We too hadn’t taken a cruise from this port so it was all new, and relatively painless, for us. YMMV depending on the day, how many ships are in, when you arrive and your attitude.

Overall conclusion

Alaska cruising can have an age group stereotype. The majority of passengers on our May 18-25th cruise appeared between 45 and 65. It would most likely skew younger during July and August or on Mouse ships.

We are 43 and 48 and felt we fit right in. Fellow passengers can really make a difference in a cruise. Be friendly. Be talkative. Engage each other. You’ll learn new things about other parts of the world and make new friends. Smile and say hello. It really makes a difference. You don’t normally do this at home so make the most and more of the experience by doing it at sea.

Saying “excuse me” or pardon me in a line goes a long way. You know who you buffet grabbers and reachers are.

Would I do it again? Yes.

It may be another 5 years but we certainly found the out and back to the same port darn convenient for us. I may hesitate about a north or southbound with the fly our or fly back element but I’m local to Vancouver. In reality how different is that really from cruising elsewhere in the world?

Count every good weather day as a bonus not a demand. Enjoy your fellow passengers and spend as much time outside in Alaska. The views are free. Less


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Cabin review: Celebrity Century 8233

We had aft balcony stateroom 8233 by pure luck. We had booked an inside but saw a deal we couldn’t pass up to upgrade to a veranda guarantee. It is a family veranda stateroom and the oddity is the double bed is against the wall on one side. It cannot be separated. One person has to climb over the other to get out of bed which can result in some interesting and rudely awakening hand placement in the middle of the night. The other half of the stateroom features a fold out couch and upper berth folded against the wall. A sliding panel can separate the two areas. At 194 square feet it is larger than the 175 square foot standard port or starboard veranda staterooms with the same sized veranda at 49-ish square feet. The concierge suites have deeper verandas, not wider. Why did we like aft versus port or starboard? The aft cabins give 180 degrees views from port to starboard and they are protected from the wind. The sound of the propwash is calming white noise like ocean waves. It was odd that of the 40 or so aft veranda cabins we only saw 2 or 3 others in use and we sat on ours a lot. Go grab a blanket from the pool deck. Drape over your lap during cooler days and we had a day where we wore shorts on our veranda which was incredible for May.Vibration and noise. There was some concern that the aft staterooms would be susceptible to vibrational noise. This was not true except on our very last night where we suspect something “broke”. At 1:52 AM the ship began to shudder and did so until we tied up at 6:45 AM. The MDR staff were surprised as well. They had to straighten up all the cutlery that had vibrated around the tables.Deck 8 aft staterooms are directly above the Crystal Room lounge and if you are the type that goes to the early (6PM) dinner seating and toddles off to bed by 9:30PM then directly above a lounge may not be the ideal choice. One deck separation in that location would be better. We like the 8:30 PM seating so we are not rushed and by the time we got back to our cabin around 11:30 PM there was 4 or 5 muffled songs then at 12 midnight it all shut off. It did not bother us a bit.To veranda or not veranda in AlaskaThis question is asked repeatedly in every forum. My simplest answer is yes if it is acceptable within your budget. The views at any time of day can be worth it especially if the weather is good. We originally had an inside cabin but saw a stupid good deal and rolled the dice on a balcony guarantee. We felt we won for what we paid in comparison to what we got. If you do have an inside cabin then get up on deck or to an upper lounge. Those places have the same view as Aqua, Concierge or veranda for less money. The point of cruising is to cruise and see things.

Port and Shore Excursions


Icy Strait Point – a tiny stop which will be enjoyable to those who have never experienced a West Coast rainforest environment. If you’ve lived in the big city, or places such as Texas, Arizona or the Midwest all of your life then this will definitely be a change. At the very least go walking about and experience the shoreline and the nature trail. It will be a pleasant distraction for a couple of hours. The zip line is pricey. Some do. Some don’t. The choice is yours along with your wallet. And always with any E-ticket ride there’s the gift shop at the end.


Boat Tour

(5)

Juneau – like Ketchikan it is a tourist shopping mall. Native Alaskan moccasins made in Canada, overpriced 12-14” high totem poles, 3 for $9.99 T-shirts and the Caribbean jewelry stores. There are some treasures to be had and it all depends on your tastes and expectations. The tram to the top of the hill is $32 USD tax in and debatable for what you paid for. Yes it is a nice view and yes there are a few trails and a gift shop. I would not have felt I have missed anything if I did not go up. Then again I live on the west coast in Vancouver BC so it’s sort of my back yard. For those from other non-mountainous, non-rainforest areas…get out in nature. It really is just a cool thing to be in it even if you have to pay a bit.

Tracey Arm Fjord excursion

We did do the ship excursion to Tracy Arm Fjord with Allen Marine Tours. Yes ship excursions are pricier but we chose this excursion because the boat has a two level top viewing platform area. Plenty of room for the 40 passengers to get happy snaps. The other non-cruise line company has aft and bow viewing areas which looked a bit crowded. We got to both Sawyer and South Sawyer glacier, saw a bear and stared and the seals lazily sunning themselves on the ice flows. Tracy Arm Fjord is magnificent scenery when the weather is good. I don’t have the experience to say if a ship or an excursion can always or does always make it all the way to the glacier. I’ve read a lot in these forums and am still debating if it is a time sensitive decision or ice sensitive decision for ships to stop short.

Was it worth it even at the higher shipboard excursion cost? We had a beautiful sunny day so yes and more yes. It’s different viewing from a smaller vessel 2 foot off the water than 14 decks above.


Ketchikan – 1600 feet this way or 1600 feet that way. You’ve seen Ketchikan. It’s a shopping mall with the same stores as Juneau. It is okay to walk about and poke your head in the stores. Go see the logger show if you’ve never seen anything like that in your life.

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