Thursday, July 23, 2009 Our plane left Texas by 9:30am and were in Vancouver by 1:30. Took a shuttle to downtown and walked a few blocks to our hotel, the Ramada Limited. The weather was beautiful and the hotel was reasonably priced and neat and clean. We left the hotel for supper - ended up at Steamworks where we had an expensive, but good, cheeseburger. We had arranged in advance to ride the trolley for a sunset trip up Grouse Mountain. At six, we met the trolley at Canada Place for a sunset trip to Grouse Mountain. Turned out it was just us and one other couple. We rode the tram up Grouse Mountain and walked around. We saw the bears in the bear habitat and one of them performed well for us. We watched the city lights come on and then headed back down the mountain. We got back to the hotel about 10:30pm - it had been a long day.
Friday, July 24, 2009 - Vancouver and Embarkation
Got up around 8am and ate the free breakfast at the hotel. Then we decided to walk down to the "upside-down" house that we had seen two years ago to see what it really was. It was further than we thought and when we got there, it was gone. A local said they had removed it! Oh, well, it was a nice walk on a beautiful morning. We walked back to the hotel and checked out just before noon. Took a cab to the ship and boarded only to find out the noro-virus was rampant last week and they were sanitizing the ship and our rooms would not be ready until 1:00 which turned out to be 2:00. Also, we found out that we could not touch anything. They served our plates, handed us salt, pepper and sugar packets, served our drinks, etc. Before dinner, we went to hear the naturalist speak. He was the same naturalist that was on board two years ago with the same show. At dinner we have to wait while they salt and pepper our food and bring condiments. I was surprised they let us touch the menus. It really takes away from the dining experience. We met our table-mates for the cruise and they were all really nice. We had all traveled extensively and the conversation flowed very easily. Our table was at the very back of the ship by the big windows - great view. I had perfectly cooked prime rib - medium.
Saturday, July 25, 2009 - Sea Day
I awoke this morning to the sound of the fog horn. We were totally foggy all morning but lifted for the afternoon trip through the Inside Passage. The temperature was in the upper sixties and mostly comfortable if you were out of the wind, which fortunately our balcony was. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet. It was like a scavenger hunt. Since we couldn't serve ourselves and they had nothing in an intuitive place (breakfast e.g. honey for muffins was with the drinks, not with the muffins; iced tea at one drink station and ice at another, jelly was not with the toast, had to ask someone for catsup, ...) In the morning, we went to a mixer with a Cruise Critic group that was wonderful and I highly recommend. My husband left that to go to a complimentary wine blending/tasting for Select Captain's Club people - he said it was very educational and fun. Eating lunch was another scavenger hunt. After lunch, we cruised through the Inside Straight. Another couple joined our group for dinner. It was formal night. I had Chateaubriand. We have a great table with a great view.
Sunday, July 26, 2009 - Ketchikan
We slept in a this morning and then did our scavenger hunt breakfast buffet. About 11, we left to walk around Ketchikan. The temperature was in the upper 70's. The salmon were running in the creek and were fun to watch. People were on the boat docks fishing and the huge salmon were a few yards away, jumping out of the water to taunt them. Then we walked up the creek and watched the salmon trying to jump through the rapids to the next calm area. This experience was one that I had come for and was not disappointed. We went back to the ship for a late lunch - pizza and salad bars were still open. The salad bar took forever - only one server to put all the extras (tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, carrots, dressing, ...) in your salad. The entertainment tonight was Dale Scott a very good magician and illusionist. After that, there was a reception for Select and Elite members of the Captain's club. It was a small group and the officers were very friendly and mixed with everyone. Other than the norovirus restrictions, dinner was great.
Monday, July 27, 2009 - Juneau
This morning was cloudy and cooler than previous days. This morning was long sleeve shirt weather. We had our normal breakfast buffet which we now know where to find nearly everything but it is still inconvenient. About 11:30, we took the shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier. The salmon (red ones) were in the creek and a mother bear was beside the creek with her two cubs in the tree beside her. We got lots of pictures and then went on to the glacier. After many pictures of the glacier, we went back to the bears just in time to see the mother bear jump into the creek and grab a salmon. It took about 5 seconds total and neither of us had our camera where we could get a picture. We finally did get a really good picture of her eating the salmon. We took then took the shuttle back to the ship, had a late pizza and salad (same slow service) lunch again. It had rained during our shuttle ride but it had stopped by the time we ate so we next walked into downtown and up to the capitol building and back. It was still cloudy but about 70 degrees and dry. This was the day after Sarah Palin had resigned. Back on ship, we relaxed on our balcony instead of going to see the Celebrity Dancers perform and then went to dinner - great food but the same norovirus inconvenience.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - Skagway
Before breakfast, I took pictures from our balcony of the whales swimming off the point by our ship. Then, we had breakfast in the dining room. We had to wait forever for condiments for our eggs even though we had asked for them when we ordered. I was totally through eating when I finally got my milk that I had ordered and reminded them about several times. After breakfast, we walked to Skagway where we had decided to hike to Lower Dewey Lake. The day was beautiful, about 70 degrees and got warmer during the day. It turned out that we had to hike over a mountain which was very steep and took a couple of hours but we made it. When we finally got there, it was really weird - there was no wildlife at all, save some very pesky flies. No birds or fish at all. We did see one squirrel but that was it for wildlife. It was pretty but I am not sure it was worth the climb. We stopped in Skagway for a beer, coke and an order of french fries. We stopped at the grocery store to buy some salt and pepper shakers to have for our meals on board. Then we returned to the ship for our late lunch - pizza and salad again. It was tea time and my husband ate from there. The show tonight was a not very funny comedian who spent most of his time picking on people in the audience who came in late. At dinner tonight, I had roasted chicken which was very good.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - Icy Straight
This morning at 6:00, I took a picture of the cannery from the ship. The next time I looked out the window, we were totally fogged in until about 10am. We ate breakfast in the dining room (trying to decide which is worse - the dinning room or the buffet) and went ashore about 11am. The day was beautiful - sunny and very warm. We should have worn t-shirts. We walked to Hoonah, about a mile away, with friends from dinner. We saw some eagles but certainly not in the quantity that we saw in 2007 - I guess they were out by the salmon streams, not in town. After our walk back to Icy Straight Point, we stopped for a beer/coke and then walked through the shops and the nature trail. The nature trail is a must see - cool, huge trees, beautiful. Where the nature trail opens back to the sea, I got a great picture of a whale. We took the tender back to the ship and had our normal late, late lunch of pizza and tea time sandwiches. As we sailed away, a beautiful day turned into cold blustery afternoon. The temperature dropped to the upper 50s while we watched for Pwhales. The whales did appear around the Adolphus Point as we left the Icy Straight Channel to the Gulf of Alaska. For dinner tonight I had Cornish game hen which was very good.
Thursday, July 30, 2009 - Hubbard Glacier in morning; sea day in afternoon
We woke up early this morning to fog once again. However, as we approached Hubbard Glacier, the fog lifted and the sun was shining. Our balcony was on the shady side and it was 48 degrees. We had ordered room service (which they only sent half of so I had to call them for the rest) and watched the glacier from our balcony. Once they turned the ship, we were in the sun and it was much warmer. The glacier was beautiful and the captain got the ship very close to it. The noise was very loud at times from the calving. There were seals on some of the smaller chunks of ice. It was a very nice morning at the glacier. As soon as we left the Hubbard Glacier bay, we were socked in with fog again and for the rest of the day and night. After a long lunch in the dining room, we went to the past guest party. After that, I went to a backstage tour for Select level past guests - very interesting. It was led by three of the dancers/singers. The entire troupe for this ship is from England. At the end of their 6 month contract, another troupe will come aboard and they will be unemployed. After the tour, I went back to the room for afternoon cocktail (my daily coke) and to pack. The show tonight was before dinner. The comedian and illusionist from earlier in the week did an encore performance. The comedian's show was better tonight and the illusionist was again very good. For dinner tonight, I had the filet, which was possibly the best meal all week.
Friday, July 31, 2009 - Debarkation
We were up early for breakfast and then off to Michael's club at 8am for transfer to Anchorage. The trip from Seward to Anchorage was, as always, beautiful. We arrived at the Marriott in downtown Anchorage about 11:30, got our airport shuttle ticket for 5:30 and left to walk the city. We went to Humpy's for a burger and then some shopping. Since all our bags were totally full, we decided to mail the souvenirs we bought today home. After taking forever to navigate the postal service (they need to work on the service part) we walked down to Ship Creek. The fishermen were all over the creek fishing for salmon. Some people were very successful and others, a few feet away, spent a lot of time casting with no results. Then we walked around town some more before returning to the hotel and taking the shuttle to the airport. At the airport, we checked our bag - it weighed 49.8 pounds, well under the 50 pounds max :-). It was a good thing that we decided to mail today's purchases home. Our flight was for 9:10 pm - a direct flight home. It actually left 10 minutes early. I managed to sleep some on the plane since I had to drive home when we landed at 6:15 the next morning.
The cruise was great except for the norovirus inconveniences. Our wonderful dinner-mates and seating by the window certainly helped make the norovirus experience more tolerable.
We had had the norovirus experience (and actually the norovirus ourselves) last summer on the Carnival Spirit but they allowed us to have condiments at the table if we asked and they sanitized them before giving them to someone else. Celebrity needs to look at some alternatives so the dining experience is not such a hassle - eating should be the ship board highlight of the cruise.