My wife and I just returned from our 7-night Alaska cruise and I wanted to post our thoughts:
The ship and overall experience were excellent. There were a few hiccups (described below), but nothing serious, and everything was easily remedied. We had a wonderful vacation with Celebrity and will sail with them again.
Very easy. We came to Seward on the train and luggage was directly transferred to the ship. We spent some time walking around town and got on the boat. The process was very fast and we were on board within 20 minutes of arriving at the terminal. The buffet was crowded (lots of people sitting around and not eating), but rooms became available early. There was a problem with our keycard initially, but this was fixed by staff within a couple minutes.
Clean and well decorated. No complaints.
We had an outside stateroom. Our cabin steward and assistant were always helpful and assisted if we needed anything (we are not high-maintenance, so this was rare). The room was always cleaned well during the day and turn-downs were done while we were at dinner in the evening.
The fitness center was very good with appropriate weight machines and aerobic equipment. We did not do any of the extra-charge activities, but visited the fitness center daily to work out. Everything was clean and worked. No complaints.
I'll break this down into a few different parts.
- Main dining room: My food was between very good and excellent. There was an occasional course that I would call a "miss", but I like to try new things on a cruise.
- Buffet: Food quality was also good with a good selection. I'll echo the common complaint that during peak hours, the buffet is chaotic and frustration with other guests who choose to use it as a socialization / card playing area is palpable.
- Specialty: We only ate once at Bistro on Five (not Olympic or Qsine - my wife is a vegetarian and options were limited, so not worth the extra charge to us). Bistro on Five gave us a very good lunch.
- Other: Cafe al Bacio makes great espresso drinks. (Probably had 3 a day)
- Special needs dining: My wife is a vegetarian. At all times, there were vegetarian options which ranged from OK to good. She did wish there were more options available for her.
Our service was great and always with a smile. Getting to know some of the staff members on all levels is a pleasure. Any problems we had were quickly taken care of without issue.
Entertainment / excursions / etc:
This was our first time in Alaska and we wanted to experience it as much as possible. As a result, we spent much of our time off the boat and did not partake as much in the on-board entertainment (so I won't rate it). We did a few 10-mile hikes (not an excursion obviously) and this required us to go to bed early. The two excursions we -did- do were the zipline in Icy Strait Point (expensive, but worth it once), and a tour in Skagway with an Iditarod musher and gold panning (also worth it and not that expensive).
Several of the reviews on this website are very nitpicky (to the point that one would think the boat would sink from a small crack in bathroom tile). My wife and I are admittedly not high-maintenance and if we were specifically looking for issues, I'm sure we could find additional things to complain about. That being said, the experience overall was very good and the staff is exceptional in the face of a very demanding and sometimes overbearing demographic.