Let me preface this review by stating that I am very detail-oriented and love getting my hands on as much information as I possibly can before I go on vacation. Therefore, my review is long-winded with a lot of minor details. For most people, this is way more reading than what you have time for So to sum it up,
I absolutely LOVED the cruise. Celebrity is a great cruiseline, the Millennium is a fantastic ship, the people I met were phenomenal, and Alaska is even better than I could have hoped for. I can honestly say that I will be cruising with Celebrity again at some point and I will also be returning to Alaska at some point. I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite port, but highlights were in Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Victoria (I enjoyed Icy Strait Point & Ketchikan but they weren’t quite as much fun as the others…)
For more specific opinions, scroll down to the headings that interest you.
If after reading this, you still have questions, let me know! But frankly I can’t believe that this won’t be enough reading material for you lol…Photos and video will be coming this weekend, and I will share the links when I get everything updated.
About Me I am a 23-year old female with a huge case of wanderlust. I have been on numerous other land-based trips with family and friends but prior to this, I had taken only one cruise (on the Norwegian Spirit to the Western Caribbean, with my sister in December 2008). I consider myself a “non-cruiser”; I cruise when it is a convenient and economical way to see a destination, but I certainly don’t cruise for the ship, cruiseline, or sea days and onboard activities. That being said, I loved my experience on NCL and again on Celebrity and will certainly cruise again in the future when it makes sense.
For Alaska, I traveled solo. I have only a few solo travel experiences – first traveling “solo” on an escorted tour to Ecuador (technically, there were 15 other people but I didn’t know anyone prior to the trip) and then I had a few days on my own in Paris & Brussels inbetween longer stays with friends elsewhere in Europe. I had never cruised solo, nor taken a 13-day trip completely on my own, but there’s a first time for everything! I was nervous about going on my own until after I made final payment and realized I had to be brave and there was no backing out at that point!
Choice of Destination I wanted a trip that was mainly focused on nature and was in the USA. I narrowed my search down to Alaska or Southern Utah after doing a lot of reading. Though I loved my cruise experience on NCL, I prefer land-based vacations so I was leaning against the cruise but when the 2010 Alaska itineraries were released, not a single one of them appealed to me so I figured that I better book a cruise for 2009 and save my Utah adventure for another year.
Choice of Cruiseline & Ship For the best of both worlds – seeing southeast Alaska and designing my own itinerary – I first looked into planning a trip using the Alaska ferry system. After spending hours looking over ferry schedules and compiling information, I came to the conclusion that not only is a cruise much more convenient, but it is significantly cheaper as well. I was shocked – especially since my ferry trip would have included a lot of camping (versus hotels) and fast food/picnics for meals (versus the delicious dinners on a cruise) and no nightly entertainment. So I settled on a mainstream cruise and gave up the freedom that comes with customizing your own trip. Once I had decided on cruising to Alaska, I set these criteria: (1) I wanted at least 4 full days in port (a few hours in Victoria in the evening wasn’t a worthwhile port stop IMO), (2) I wanted to see Sitka, (3) I had to start my vacation no earlier than September 12 (limited by my work schedule ), (4) I wanted a cruiseline that offered traditional dining (I loved NCL but freestyle dining didn’t appeal to me as a solo cruiser).
This narrowed my search down to a one-way cruise on either Holland America’s Ryndam or this “Ultimate” end of the season cruise on the Celebrity Millenium. I ruled out the Ryndam because I didn’t think I’d enjoy cruising HAL and found myself with the Millie.
Choice of Cabin I tend to be in the cabin ONLY to shower and sleep, so an interior cabin seemed to be the logical choice. I momentarily considered booking a balcony since everyone says they are necessary for Alaskan cruises, but I knew I would want to be out on deck for superior scenic viewing in all directions so I decided to save my money and use it on excursions instead Originally, I booked a Category 11 interior stateroom but switched to a “worse” category 12 stateroom before final payment to take advantage of a price drop. I didn’t bother to select a specific room as that had no importance to me, and ended up with 2021.
Booking I booked this cruise in March, six months prior to sailing, through a Travel Agent – solely in order to take advantage of a $175 onboard credit that was not offered if I booked directly through Celebrity. Ironically, the price of my cruise dropped after booking and I lost the OBC when I had the price adjusted (but the price dropped $350 so I was still money ahead). I received friendly service from my TA throughout the process, but would prefer to make my own reservation online if there was no cost difference.
I booked my airfare in July, the same day I made final payment. I chose to fly in and out of Seattle even though the cruise left from Vancouver because flights to Seattle were $200 cheaper than flying to Vancouver and I had enough Amtrak “miles” to get myself from Seattle to Vancouver for free. Even if I had to pay for a train/bus, I still would have saved about $125. Interestingly enough, airfare remained the same price from when I booked the cruise in March, to July, to a week before the cruise (I checked again for curiosity’s sake). It must just be the going price for that route.
When I booked my airfare, I decided to extend my trip with one extra night in Seattle pre-cruise and another post-cruise in Vancouver (before returning to Seattle the next morning for a mid-afternoon flight). Unfortunately, United changed the time of my return flight and I had to revise my plans to return to Seattle early and instead overnight in the USA. I waited until a week before the cruise to book my hotels.
Budgeting I set a budget for myself before the trip. That being said, I didn’t do Alaska on a shoestring – the budget was more of a tool to keep myself aware of what I was spending and not go out of control. I allowed money for excursions, drinks, etc. You could do Alaska for TONS cheaper than I did and still have a fantastic time so I would encourage everyone to try to go to Alaska even if you can’t afford the pricey excursions.
Because of the budget, I did have to cut costs in some areas to afford the pricey excursions I chose. I had to compromise on a few things I wanted to do so that overall I would stay within my budget.
I ended up being about $20 under budget overall for trip expenses (hotels, flights, cruise, excursions, drinks, etc.) and about $10 over my souvenir allowance (I had been hugely under budget until I hit Victoria and went on a shopping spree!!). So with a little discipline, anything is possible
Insurance I chose not to insure my trip. I am young and healthy, and my health insurance covers me within Alaska. I decided to take my chances that I would not have medical problems while onboard (I’m sure some of you will tell me that was stupid, but it was a risk I was okay with). I was willing to bet that I would make it to the ship on time since I was flying in a day early. The chances of something happening at home that would prevent me from going on the cruise were near zero. For reference, I received quotes of $100-200 depending on the amount of insurance coverage – which meant that buying insurance would mean foregoing an excursion or two so that I could stay in my budget. Luckily, I had no problems.
Packing I travel with only a carry-on for ease and convenience. I chose a 21” rolling suitcase that has worked well on previous trips. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to fit everything (for 13 days!!) in my little suitcase, but since it’s the only suitcase I own, I decided to make do. There were three shirts I had to wear twice, but they were easy to hand-wash in the sink and line dry. I have to echo what everyone else on the boards suggested and say that layers in Alaska are absolutely key. So is some raingear – I waterproofed my hiking boots, brought a lightweight rain jacket, a compact umbrella, and two disposable knee-length ponchos from the dollar store that I never ended up using since my rain jacket was so effective.
I think I used almost everything I brought (with the exception of my disposable ponchos and an extra camera as back-up) so I did NOT overpack lol The only thing I wished I had brought were some bobby pins for my hair and my glasses…which I had brought but then left on the airplane Live and learn.
Flight My flight to Seattle was on Continental Airlines, with a 55 minute layover in Cleveland. I knew the layover was short but I hate waiting around in airports. Strategically, I booked a seat near the front, on the aisle, just in case so I could leave the plane as quickly as possible. Since I didn’t check any luggage, I didn’t have to worry about my suitcase making the connection. Thankfully, I made my connection in Cleveland and arrived in Seattle on time – actually, about 30 minutes early!
I was impressed that Continental provided a meal on my flight from Cleveland to Seattle but was frustrated that they charge $6 to watch a movie. I chose to save my money and instead read during the flight. The flight was as comfortable as a 4-hour flight in coach can be.
Light Rail Another upside to packing light is that public transportation is a viable option to get from the airport to downtown. I took the light rail from the airport to Westlake Station downtown. It was easy and cheap but frankly not very efficient. For my return to the airport at the end of the trip, I decided to take the bus instead which was lots quicker and just as easy and cheap.
Touring Seattle I had only one afternoon to spend in Seattle, so I had to use my time carefully. I spent a lot of time researching what I wanted to do ahead of time so I could map out my plan to be as efficient as possible. I ended up seeing tons more than I had originally anticipated.
I started my morning by wandering through Pike Place Market. Frankly, I was unimpressed given the rave reviews I had read on Cruise Critic. I sampled some foods and looked over the items at some of the stands, but overall didn’t spend much time at the market. Maybe it would have been more interesting if I could have bought some fresh food and/or flowers, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it to Vancouver due to customs regulations. Shopping is not a pastime of mine, so it didn’t take too long to peruse the stalls and shops.
From there, I walked along the waterfront with a few stops in the stores along the way, and then had lunch at Ivar’s. While the fish and chips were nothing special, the salmon chowder was out of this world and I am so glad that I decided to try it. Yum!
From there, I was off to Pioneer Square. I sat in Occidental Park for awhile listening to a street musician and enjoying the warmth and sunshine. I spent about 45 minutes at the National Park Service Klondike Park Museum. The exhibits are really well done; the film, less so. It was a great introduction to Seattle and Alaska’s history.
Afterwards was the Underground Tour. Yes, it was cheesy, but it was fun and informative. I was surprised with how many people were there for the tour but it was still easy to get a good look at everything.
From there was a visit to Columbia Tower (twice the height of the Space Needle and a fraction of the cost), where I took some photos before heading to the Central Library for its architectural wonder and free internet. Both were worthwhile stops.
I hopped a quick bus from the library to the Seattle Center, where I walked around for some photo ops of the Space Needle and International Fountain. The grounds were absolutely empty, which really surprised me. There were no lines at the Space Needle but after getting all my pictures at the Columbia Tower, I had no need to go up in the Space Needle.
I am ashamed to say that my “dinner” was at McDonald’s. I know, I know…not a Seattle specialty…but after such a big lunch, I really wasn’t hungry and McD’s was convenient. I bought a fruit & walnut salad and carried it onto the Bainbridge Island ferry. I ate picnic-style on the ferry (as did many others) while snapping pictures of the beautiful city skyline. I had timed it perfectly to capture the sunset on my way to the island and the city all lit up at night on my return to the city. Absolutely a must-do if you have time in Seattle.
My last stop for the evening was at the Pike Place Brewing Company for some local microbrews. I bought the sampler, which had 6 generously-sized samples…enough for me to call it a good night.
Hotel Since money was tight, I was looking for budget accommodations in Seattle. This is fine by me – I only need a place to sleep. I had originally planned to stay at the Moore Hotel (a bargain at only $59/night), but ended up choosing the Green Tortoise Hostel so that there would be other people to socialize with. This was my first experience at a hostel, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The location is great, right across from Pike Place Market. The people were friendly, the rooms were clean, and breakfast was fantastic. They had free dinner, too, but I was out and about so didn’t have a chance to try it.
Overall, it was a nice place to stay and if you don’t mind sharing a room, I would recommend it.
Train I booked the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver, a 4-hour journey that everyone on Cruise Critic has described as particularly scenic. I was able to get a free ticket by redeeming Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
I got to the station around 7:00. Luckily, this was early enough to score a window seat on the left-hand side of the train. The ride was scenic and comfortable, and they showed a movie (“Angels & Demons”) so it was not an inconvenience to fly into Seattle and take the train to Vancouver.
The problem arose when we arrived in Vancouver and had to line up for customs. The line moved awfully slowly – and I was near the front of the line! What a hassle. Allow at least 45 minutes for this process. There were tons of taxis waiting at the train station to take you to the pier, or you can take the skytrain to Canada Place.
Touring Vancouver My limited experience with cruising gave me the impression that there are no activities offered onboard before sailaway, so to avoid boarding too early and having nothing to do, I decided to take a few hours between my arrival in Vancouver and boarding the cruise ship in order to see a little more of Vancouver.
I stored my luggage at the train station. There are HUGE lockers available at a cost of $4 per locker for 4 hours (plus $1 for each additional 6 hours).
I walked over to Chinatown, which was not a very long walk at all, especially since the sun was shining was again. After a quick lunch, I spent most of my time at Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Gardens. The tour was incredibly informative and the gardens themselves were beautiful. Maybe it was the feng shui, but I felt so peaceful that I could have stayed all afternoon. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for that day.
After a quick stroll through Gastown, I walked back to the train station to reclaim my suitcase and head off to the cruise.
Ballantyne Pier Trust me, if there was an easy way to get there by bus and/or walking, I would have taken it, but believe me when I advise you to just get a taxi. The fare was only $9 + tip and it took about 5 minutes. I arrived at Ballantyne around 3:00 and the lines weren’t bad. The entire check-in process including customs took about 30 minutes from taxi to stateroom. I was happy to find champagne waiting for me when I boarded the ship – it’s a really nice touch.
My first stop was to my room to drop off my luggage. I started unpacking before the mandatory Muster Drill.
The Ship – Overall Comments Overall, the Millennium is a classy ship. She is elegant with a good mix of rich and light colors. You can tell the Millie is well cared for and loved by the crew. At all times, the ship was clean. There are signs on all floors near the elevators/stairs to point out where things are and the layout is really easy to get used to.
The Cabin I was in Cabin #2021, a Category 12 interior stateroom. The room is pretty far forward on the port side. Other than the fact that it was a long walk upstairs to the buffet (I always took the stairs), the location was fine. The bed was soft and comfortable and the room itself was inviting. It felt much bigger than it really was. The closet had plenty of hangers for one; if there were two people in the room I would suggest bringing some extra hangers. My TV had not yet been upgraded to a flat-screen TV, but it had otherwise gone through a nice refurbishment and offered enough channels to keep me happy. The bathroom had soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion provided.
My steward, Dalene, was okay. My bed was ALWAYS made, even if I had only left for just a few minutes. Garbage was emptied, towels provided when requested, wine chilled, drinking water available, and the bathroom clean. My only gripe is that either my room was never vacuumed or it was poorly done as the carpet never seemed clean.
I was lucky enough to also check out an outside cabin on deck 2, a balcony on deck 9, a “sweet 16” aft balcony on deck 7, and a royal suite on deck 6. After seeing the rooms, I can honestly say I would never pay for an outside or regular balcony – I would want the huge extended balcony or none at all. I guess after enough inside cabins, the savings will cover any additional cost of the larger balcony. The royal suite was nice, but I’m not sure the cost differential between it and the larger balcony room would be worth it to me. Just my opinion…
Public Areas The bar and lounge areas were lovely, with enough variation between each location to give each one a unique feel. I liked Cosmos and the Rendezvous Lounge the best but loved that I could switch it up for a different atmosphere. There was live music in the evenings in most of the areas. I wish they had music all day, but I understand there isn’t enough demand for that. There were plenty of servers available and drinks were always served quickly and exactly as I ordered. The many martinis, my favorites , are $11.50 after service charge and well worth every penny.
The outdoor pool area was really nice, but except for about 30 minutes in one of the outdoor hot tubs, I wasn’t in the area very often. The T-Pool was nice, but got crowded as the cruise went on and more people realized how wonderful it was. I had been warned the water fades bathing suits, so I packed an old one – I was glad I had because at the end of the cruise it was so faded that I simply threw it out (I needed the space for souvenirs anyway )
I didn’t have any money left in my budget for the spa, but it looked really nice. I used the dry sauna a few times and it was always the exact perfect temperature and never crowded. There is a big window, great to watch sailaway as you are warming up from in port!! The gym also looked nice, with lots of great equipment that never got tested by me! As a side note, a few fitness classes (some free and some with $10 fees) and personal training were also available.
I absolutely loved that the casino was non-smoking. There were a few penny slots (my favorite) but also other slot machines and of course table games. I spent $4 in the casino overall. I lost all $4.
The library was nice and seemed to have a nice assortment of books. Though I perused the shelves, I didn’t read anything since I didn’t have my glasses with me.
The shopping area was nicely set up and was great for browsing the displays. I bought a bracelet, but mostly did window shopping. I loved walking through the Art Gallery – like a free trip to the museum, with free personal tour guide.
Food First, I should admit that I am not a “foodie” and rarely eat at fine dining establishments at home. That being said, I love the ambiance and quality of meals at the main dining room on cruise ships and took advantage of the fabulous service and delicious food whenever possible.
I selected the late seating (8:30pm) because of the long days in port. I wanted to be able to maximize the amount of time I spent on shore without having to give up the meals in the MDR.
Main Dining Room – The MDR is known as the “Metropolitan” and was open nightly for dinner and was open for breakfast/lunch during limited hours most days. I ate here for 7 (of 10) dinners, 2 breakfasts, 1 brunch, and 2 lunches. Every meal was a delight. At breakfast, don’t miss the baked apple.
My first night, I was seated at a table for 10, but the only other 3 dining companions were German men who stared at me for most of the meal, talked amongst themselves (in German), and seemed to have a great time on their own. I spoke with the Maitre’D and was able to be re-assigned to another table. My five new tablemates were a lot of fun and we had some great conversations every night.
The service was wonderful. My waiter, Polat, was very attentive and friendly. All of his recommendations were spot-on and he wasn’t afraid to tell us when we picked something that wasn’t a good choice.
There were too many good foods to list, but some favorites were the rack of lamb, teriyaki duck, and halibut. None of the desserts were memorable, yet I continued to order one every night…haha.
The dress code was loosely enforced, but I never saw someone who looked so out of place that it was distracting to the meal.
AquaSpa Café – The AquaSpa was open for breakfast and dinner. I only ate breakfast there once, since I prefer a big breakfast. However, if you like only a light breakfast, this is a great choice for cold cereals, muesli, fruit, yogurt, bagels, lox, etc. Again, I only ate lunch here once but it was very tasty. I had a plate of cold chicken breast with cous cous, veggies, and hummus. Delicious! The coconut flan – made from soy milk – was one of my favorite desserts of the entire cruise.
Buffet – I don’t really like buffets, but most port mornings, this was the only place open early enough for breakfast before docking. There were six different types of eggs benedict, so I felt the need to sample them. The German variation was pretty good (poached eggs with bratwurst on a pumpernickel bread topped with mustard sauce) and I didn’t care for the Italian (too greasy with salami on focaccia and an oil-based pesto), and the others were just okay. I wasn’t thrilled with the other breakfast options and I am still unsure what the big deal about the waffle bar is. I had lunch in the buffet twice, once for pizza (not thrilled) and once for the pasta bar (great pasta & veggies, sauce only average). I also tried the sushi bar one night for a pre-dinner snack (good sushi but only basic choices). Next time I’ll stick with the MDR with as many meals as possible.
Casual Dining – I made plans for dinner here on Icy Strait Point night with a friend I met onboard. Unfortunately, the ship was rocking and rolling a lot so he had to cancel last minute so I decided to dine alone. I made it through the first course before deciding I also wouldn’t be eating dinner that night! From my short impression, I thought the menu had a lot of great choices and the service was adequate but not comparable to the MDR. I wish I would have been able to stay for the whole meal to try the mahi mahi, but there was no way I could eat an entire meal that night.
Cova Café – Along with coffees and teas, Cova serves pastries in the morning and tapas at night. I tried neither, but everything looked tasty.
Room Service –I never did try room service, but the menu seemed above average. I looked over the CC-class room service menu and royal suite menu as well, which had lots more choices, but even in my lowly inside cabin, I was impressed that cooked eggs and meats were available at breakfast.
Olympic Restaurant – I never thought I would eat at the Olympic but I found myself with two opportunities to eat there during this cruise. Both meals were incredible, with great food, superior service, and great company. It is well worth the $30 cover. My only advice is to skip the bread since you will want to save room for the other foods! Also, allow 2+ hours for the meal…I was surprised at how quickly the meal went, until I looked at my watch and saw that it actually had taken about 2.5 hours! Time flies when you are enjoying yourself.
Since the food at the Olympic was very memorable, here’s a quick run-down on my opinions: The Goat Cheese Souffle was okay, but even better was the Scallop Wellington. These were definitely the stars of the first course when I glanced at other peoples’ dishes. For the second course, I highly recommend the Anjou Pear with Roquefort Cheese. I could eat that every day! Mmm…For the entrée, the first night I had the Surf & Turf (lobster & filet mignon) and while the lobster was excellent, the filet was beyond divine. I would vote for just the filet next time. My second night, the chef had a special chateau briand, which was even better than the filet (I didn’t think that was possible!). Dessert the first night, I sampled the six bite-size desserts and they were all delicious, but the white chocolate mousse won my heart. The second night, I had the strawberry crepes, which were good but not quite as good as the white chocolate mousse. This mousse is not offered on the menu as a dessert choice on its own, but I’m sure the kitchen would be happy to provide a larger portion if you requested it!
Drinks – Okay, maybe this shouldn’t go under the “food” heading, but close enough. I sampled a few drinks onboard during the week and was always pleased with the quality. The sommeliers know a lot about wine and were always most helpful with choosing wine to complement your dinner. Bartenders, IMO, had a heavy pour making the $10 cost of a martini a little bit easier to swallow (no pun intended haha). There were drink specials every day, typically only saving about $1 per drink but one night they had Flirtinis for $6 instead of $10, a very good deal if you like the drink.
Ship Crew In general, the service on board was wonderful. Everyone was smiling and genuinely interested in making sure you had a great experience. Two thumbs up for Celebrity on this one.
Entertainment The shows, in general, were only okay. There was one vocalist on the production cast who was excellent, but the others were about average entertainers. I missed the magician’s show, which everyone raved about, so I am a little disappointed I had made other plans. Pearl Kaufmann, the pianist, was a wonderful musician but the show lost a lot of its appeal because the piano was overwhelmed by the band playing with it – unnecessary backup music IMO. There were always plenty of seats in the theatre.
Onboard activities My preference is to stay busy at all times, so when I booked a Celebrity cruise I was a little concerned about finding activities to keep me occupied while onboard. The ship, though it looked nice, didn’t offer rock-climbing, bowling, surfing, ice-skating or the other activities that several of the newer & bigger ships offer. This ship was more subdued (which was okay because I realized that when I booked it and wasn’t surprised when I got onboard). I had three sea days, and two afternoons after port stops, that I needed to entertain myself during. Onboard activities were geared toward a more low-key crowd. The cooking show was fun, trivia was okay, but the lectures lacked enthusiasm. Other activities that were offered but I did not attend were movies, Bingo, and wine tastings. I am ashamed to admit that I rarely made it out past 11pm for anything. The early port stops (7am) made it difficult for late nights.
As expected, there were some times onboard when none of the scheduled activities sounded interesting to me. I used this time to relax at the T-pool or hot tub, go on deck to search for wildlife, nap, listen to live music, do sudoku puzzles, enjoy a martini or meet new people. Overall, time passed quickly because I found myself chatting frequently with members of my roll call or some of the other friends I made onboard.
Cruise Critic Roll Call – Joining the roll call was the best decision I made. I had a lot of fun chatting with the other people in the group ahead of time and learned a lot of great details from people with more cruising experience than I have! Best of all, we had a few onboard events. Our Bon Voyage Sailaway get together was a great way to meet everyone in person and put faces to names. From this point forward, I recognized people everywhere! We also had a (brief) get together our first sea day and a wine tasting held in the Royal Suite for our Ketchikan departure. Everyone was friendly and a lot of fun. Thank you all for making this trip special!
Searching for Wildlife – I spent some time on deck looking for wildlife, and ended up seeing five orcas and one seal from the ship. Nothing was close enough for photos, but with a set of binoculars, it was fun to watch. The scenery was also inspiring and at times, downright mesmerizing. I was really surprised how much I liked watching the world go by.
Scenic Cruising – Here is where I need to admit that when I booked the cruise, I thought our day at Hubbard Glacier would be a waste. I wanted an additional port stop instead – even just a short day in port. Well, let me tell you…Hubbard Glacier is spectacular! The beauty, the vastness, the calmness, and then the calving…it is quite an experience and one I wouldn’t have traded for anything! It was an absolutely perfect morning!! The captain was able to get us within 500 feet of the glacier and I couldn’t believe how close we were. From the balcony of the Royal Suite, with great company, champagne, and lots of great photos, it was an awesome experience. Some people on Cruise Critic seem disappointed with Hubbard Glacier instead of Glacier Bay, but I can’t imagine anything even more amazing than Hubbard. WOW. Our two sea days through the Inside Passage were also beautiful but could not nearly compare to Hubbard.
Other Ship Services Laundry & pressing – No self-serve laundry rooms or irons are available on the ship, but you can send clothing away for pressing, laundry, or dry cleaning as necessary. Costs were approximately the same as my local dry cleaner’s, and while I certainly wouldn’t pay to have all my clothes laundered on the ship, to have a gown pressed was reasonable ($4.50). Same day service increases the cost by 50%. Steaming your clothes in the bathroom with the shower on HOT works really well, too! Just let it cool off in the bathroom before opening the door or you’ll set the smoke detector off when all the steam enters the main cabin…just a piece of advice.
Internet – Internet service was available onboard, both for use on your own laptop or at one of the computers onboard. The cost was 65 cents a minute, but buying large packages of minutes to be used over the course of the week cut the cost almost in half, depending on how many minutes you needed. I didn’t try it. Most of the ports had public libraries offering free (fast) internet if you have time in port for a quick stop and if not, I found that I had fantastic internet/email service on my Verizon Blackberry in every port and great reception on my Verizon cell phone in port. I didn’t try using my phone on the ship while at sea due to the prices!!
Photos – Photos were awfully expensive, so I didn’t buy any. I felt like they didn’t really advertise formal portraits very well – I didn’t even see the photographers the first night. Lots of silly poses for every port were available.
Other General Comments Celebrity Cruisers – I have read many times on Cruise Critic that Celebrity cruises attract older passengers (compared to Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, or NCL). I also read that Alaska cruises attract older passengers. I was told that families don’t tend to cruise during the school year (except on breaks), so I didn’t expect many children onboard. Lastly, I also read that longer cruises attract older passengers. So frankly, I wasn’t surprised when I got onboard and the average passenger was about 60 years old. That being said, there were passengers of every age, ranging from 20s – 90s (including about a dozen kids who I rarely saw) and regardless of age, I found lots of people to chat with. Everyone had interesting stories to share and everyone was friendly and overall I would say that Celebrity cruisers are a great group of people.
Tipping – Celebrity recommends a daily gratuity (per person) of $11.50 divided between your waiter, assistant waiter, maitre’d, stateroom attendant, and other service personnel. These gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account, but can be adjusted to your discretion. I don’t like the concept of “automatic tips” and would rather tip and thank each crew member personally, but I have to say the convenience is wonderful. A 15% service charge is added to all beverage orders. Further tips for fantastic service can be given in cash or can be added to your account.
Smoking – For me, Celebrity’s smoking policy is a huge bonus. I am a nonsmoker and almost all public areas in NY are smoke-free so I am not used to having smokers around. Smoking is prohibited in all staterooms, balconies, and most other indoor areas (restaurants, casino, theatre, etc.) There were a few designated areas to smoke and I never found it bothersome.
Seasickness – I have never had an issue with motion sickness, but this cruise was an exception. The night between Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier was pretty rough, with winds of 50 knots (gusts up to 85) and 28-foot seas. I don’t really know what numbers are “normal”, but I can tell you that what we experienced that night was downright uncomfortable, even with 2 Dramamine pills, ginger, and a green apple which my mother claims helps. Other than that night I was fine, even when we hit a few bumpy passages (but nothing nearly as rough as that one night). Mostly, it was smooth sailing.
The Weather I was warned that September could be cool and rainy. I knew this from the start, so I was prepared with layers of clothing and raingear and knew not to be disappointed if the weather didn’t cooperate. Overall – the weather was exactly that: cool and rainy at times, cool and overcast the other times. Obviously I would have loved to go when there was blue skies and 70-degree days, but unfortunately I was limited on when I could travel based on my work responsibilities. So I decided to make the best of a late September trip, and the weather didn’t stop me from having a good time. Pre-cruise in Seattle and Vancouver was sunny & 70, so that was a great way to start the trip!!
Ports The best part about a 10-day Alaska cruise (rather than a 7-day) is that instead of four ports, you get six!! Since I travel for the ports and the itinerary, this was a huge bonus for me. Our itinerary included port days in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, and Victoria, along with a day of scenic cruising at Hubbard Glacier and two “regular” sea days through the Inside Passage.
All of my plans for in port were carefully researched using suggestions from Cruise Critic, Trip Advisor, and other websites as resources. I found guidebooks to be minimally helpful compared to websites, but I read several nonetheless. I prefer independent excursions over ship tours since they tend to be smaller groups, but I found this to be difficult in Icy Strait Point.
Ketchikan (in port 7am-3pm) I didn’t book a tour in Ketchikan, thinking there was plenty to do – of course, I didn’t realize how small each exhibit was, so in the future I would recommend booking a tour for at least part of the day.
I got off right at 7 and went through town on my own, with stops at the Cape Fox Lodge (via funicular) to see the totems out back, the Married Men’s trail down to salmon-viewing areas, the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center, Totem Heritage Center, Lumberjack Show, Southeast Discovery Center, Dolly’s House, Creek Street, Tongass Historical Museum, and public library (for free internet). Now that I have seen all of that, I would recommend the lumberjack show & discovery center and would only recommend the others if you really have time. I didn’t expect to see all of them in one day but was surprised when the exhibits were so small that I got through rather quickly.
I also spent a little time watching a harbor seal (in you guessed it…the harbor) who was getting an easy lunch with all the salmon swimming I also spent some time poking in the shops on Creek Street and just sitting outside and people-watching while calling home.
The best part of my day in Ketchikan was entirely unplanned – when it started to rain around lunchtime, I ducked into a local diner and sat at the counter to get a cup of soup to warm up and hold me over until I got back onboard. I ended up meeting a local who had lived in Ketchikan for all 73 years of his life. He told me about the area, the customs, the culture, the people, what he loved about Alaska…and best yet, he shared some traditional legends from the Raven clan, of which he belongs. Though the food was bland, this meal will be one of my favorites from the entire trip. What a wonderful blessing to be able to share this moment. During this break was the first time I was entirely thankful to be traveling solo, because otherwise it is unlikely that I would have branched out to sit next to a local and make conversation.
Juneau (8am-9pm) The morning I woke up in Juneau, it looked like it was going to pour and I was really regretting for signing up for my all-day glacier trek. But I gathered my rain gear and decided to make the best of it!! Surprisingly, it didn't rain until evening, long after my tour ended.
My tour didn’t begin until 9, so I took full advantage of that first hour and started walking through town. I saw the courthouse, state capitol, and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (it was closed) before returning to the tram area to meet my tour.
My day in Juneau would be the most physically strenuous of the trip – I had signed up for a glacier trek with Above & Beyond. We hiked up the West Glacier Loop, did some bouldering and climbing over huge rock walls, and eventually made it ONTO Mendenhall Glacier for some trekking and exploring. This day was just an amazing experience with tons of adrenaline pumping and one natural high after another. I knew I would love going into the ice caves and checking out the glacier, but I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the hiking and climbing sections. It was an absolutely great day and it was on that glacier that I fell in love with Alaska for the first time (it would happen over and over again after that…) It was a highly strenuous hike and I was really hurting afterwards but it was worth every ounce of energy. If you are in shape and enjoy a challenge, I can’t think of anything better to do in Juneau.
Two of the other people from the excursion (and the Millie) invited me along for a mini-pub crawl through Juneau. We started at the Alaskan, which kind of was a dump but with lots of character, and I sampled the Alaskan Summer Ale (delicious). We went from there to the Hangar, where we split an enormous plate of nachos and I had an Alaskan White (also delicious). They decided to return to the ship, and I instead did a little shopping (okay, all I bought were some postcards) and went to the public library for free internet.
Skagway (7am-8:30pm) I was a little nervous about Skagway because I had booked a tour with Dyea Dave who has mixed reviews here on Cruise Critic. I figured it would be okay – while I would love to head to Emerald Lake, there were plenty of hiking trail right around town that could easily fill the day and left me just as satisfied.
Thankfully, Dave was waiting as expected right outside the pier area and we made an early start up to the Yukon in his van. The trip was a blast, partially because the other 4 people on tour were friends from the roll call, partially because Dave is so corny and ridiculous that it’s a lot of fun, and partially because the scenery is incredible. I couldn’t believe how pretty it was, mile after mile. Dave provided great commentary along the way and we had a great trip. I really cannot express how beautiful the ride is but when my pictures are up, you can see for yourself! We stopped for a quick lunch at Montana Service Area (I believe that was the name) where the service was friendly, portions huge, the burgers great, and the poutine was lousy.
Instead of dropping us back in town at the end of the tour, Dave took us out to Dyea in search of bears. It was exciting, trying to find the bears, and we ended up seeing three grizzlies! I had no expectation of seeing bears while in Alaska but it was really exhilarating to see them in the wild. It was the perfect end to the tour.
Around 5:00, Dave pointed me in the direction of Yakutania Point for a short “hike” (more like a walk, especially after the REAL hike in Juneau). It was really pretty and I sat on some rocks at the point and called home. It was really peaceful and quiet with hardly anyone on the trail.
I returned to town for some more shopping – for real this time! I bought some moccasins for my mother and tried on some jewelry (but didn’t purchase any). Then I ended my evening at the Skagway Brewing Company. They have a beer tasting option, so I tried six of their brews for only $7. I really liked the Blue Top Porter, and the others were okay.
Icy Strait Point (7am-5pm) Icy Strait Point was the only port where I booked a ship-sponsored excursion: Tribal Dance & Cultural Legends. Unfortunately, they canceled the 9:30 tour due to lack of interest and automatically moved me to the 1:30 tour, which wouldn’t work since I had an afternoon whale watch booked with F.I.S.H.E.S. They were accommodative in refunding my tour cost, but I was still disappointed to miss the dance show.
Regardless of the rain that morning, I tendered to shore (which was a quick ride but slow process), and walked through the Cannery exhibits and a few stores. My sole purchase was some lip balm; guess I’m not a big spender.
I headed out back to the nature trail and was on the phone when whoosh! a zipline test run went over my head. It looked like a lot of fun, so I ran inside to see if I could still sign up. Yes, they had room on the 9:00 tour! I frantically signed waivers to make the tour on time…only to find that the tour bus was waiting for late passengers. It was annoying that they would hold up an entire group for one late person and left me with a sour taste in my mouth for ship tours. Anyways, we went up the mountain while Jimmy, our driver, provided great commentary about Hoonah and the region. We got up to the top only to find out the zipline would be closed for the rest of the day since the winds were too strong! This was to no fault of the ship, the driver, or the zipline operators, but was still disappointing. We made the trip back down the mountain by bus instead of zipping. A few of the folks on the earliest tour of the day made it down before it was closed.
I went directly from the zipline tour to meet Floyd for my whale watch, who was there an hour early. It caught me by surprise, but it was okay. I joined a group of 4 others, from Texas, on Floyd’s boat for a whale watch. Floyd was a quiet man, with little to say on the ride out, which kind of disappointed me. By booking the private tour, I had hoped for a little more individualized tour and to have no interaction with the guide hardly made the extra cost seem worthwhile.
We made it out to Point Adolphus where we saw dozens of humpbacks. It was mostly blows and backs, but we also saw a few tails and fin slapping. Floyd let us listen to the humpbacks via his hydraphone. For reference, we could see the ship tour boat very close by (they were always watching the same whales) and they stayed out just as long as we did. If I return to ISP, I will be looking for a different private tour. That being said, the whales were fun to watch even though I didn’t see any breaching or bubble feeding.
Upon return to Hoonah, I stopped in the Office Bar for some lunch. It’s past crab season, so there was no fresh Dungeness, so I had a crab cake and chowder with a beer. Prices were reasonable IMO. Frankly, I didn’t think the Office was anything special but maybe that was because there was no crab for me!
I walked back to the port (just over a mile) and walked along the beach and through the nature trail before tendering back to the ship.
Sitka (7am-4pm) Sitka was the port I was anticipating the most as it was my parents’ favorite port stop on their Alaskan cruise. I was not disappointed in Sitka at all!
The morning began with another long, drawn-out tender process. I was touring with some friends from the roll call who had priority tender tickets since they were in a suite, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. We still waited 30 minutes just to get on a tender. I really think there must be a more efficient way to tender. The ride to shore itself was easy.
We met our tour guide, Captain Davey, for a wildlife watch on the Esther G. The boat is tiny but it keeps the group size down! There were only 5 of us and everyone was a lot of fun.
This tour was another highlight of the trip – we saw humpbacks, harbor seals, sea otters, a HUGE stellar sea lion, eagles, jellyfish, and even attempted to locate a gray whale that had been spotted earlier (but to no avail). The wildlife, and scenery, was amazing! I loved every minute of it. To make things even better, Davey was personable and friendly and talked the entire time. You could tell he really loved Sitka! I learned so much about the area in our short tour. On our ride back to shore, the water was really rough for such a small boat but we kept our mind off things by singing sailor songs and enjoying each others’ company. It was a fantastic morning and completely made up for my less-than-stellar private tour in ISP.
I continued the afternoon with a visit to the Russian Bishop’s House, which was very interesting and different from anything else I saw in Alaska. Coupled with a stop at St. Michael’s Cathedral, I got a good feeling for the Russian history in Sitka. Afterwards was a walk through town out to Sitka Historical Park with totems and visitor center and the old fort site. There was some great bird-watching on the beach area, if you’re at all interested in that.
My day in Sitka was the first time I felt like I missed out on something because I went so late in the Alaskan cruise season – the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi dancers were no longer performing and the New Archangel Dancers had only one performance, which conflicted with my tour with Davey. I had to save these performances for my next trip to Sitka, whenever that may be.
A little more shopping (more like window-shopping) rounded out the day before heading back onboard.
Victoria (10am-6pm) Our day in Victoria was beautiful with blue skies, sunshine, and 65-degree weather: a huge contrast from the previous stop in Sitka. I had plans to go to the gardens, so this was perfect weather for the day!!
The ship docked at 10am and began letting people off before customs was ready for everyone; as a result you had to stand and wait to be let out of the port area for about 20 minutes. While it was only a minor inconvenience, I was a little surprised at the miscommunication since every other docking had gone off without a snag.
I had to make it to the Bus Depot, across from the Royal BC Museum, by 11am so I walked quickly through town instead of taking the winding, waterfront path. It took me about 25 minutes to walk there and I enjoyed the walk outside in nice weather. The bus depot was easy to find and I boarded my tour bus to Butchart Gardens.
Originally, I had thought about taking the city bus to or from the gardens, but the shuttle was so easy that I’m glad I chose it. My tour guide, Ted, was really friendly and shared a lot of information about Victoria on the way to the gardens. It was a pleasant 35-minute ride.
The gardens themselves were beautiful, but crowded! It was at times difficult to get pictures because there were so many people in the way. Regardless, I enjoyed the gardens thoroughly. I was amazed at how many flowers were still in bloom in late September, and juxtaposed with some trees turning color for autumn, it was a sight you had to see.
By far my favorite were the Sunken Gardens, with the Japanese Garden being a distant second (though all of them were beautiful). It only took me about an hour to get through the gardens, but I spent another hour or so with my lemonade just sitting in the Sunken Garden and enjoying the weather, smell of the flowers, and the fountains.
Another bus ride back to the city and I found it was only 2:00, so I made a last-minute decision to head to the Royal British Columbia Museum. I almost didn’t want to since it was so nice outside, but everyone said it was a great museum so I decided to give it a go. The museum, while small, is absolutely well-done. The traveling exhibit, Treasures, was hugely informative and interesting, despite wall-to-wall people. The other highlights of the museum were the First Nations Exhibit and Century Hall…both well-done. I think this museum is one of my absolute favorites I’ve ever been to. It doesn’t take long to go through (I barely spent any time in the environmental exhibits, admittedly) but it is certainly worth a short trip. I could’ve spent longer, but I still wanted to meet a friend from the ship for tea at Murchie’s.
Murchie’s is a tea store, with a shop on one half of the building and a café on the other half. We started by perusing the store, where of course I bought some tea to bring home. We then spent some time over tea and goodies in the café. It was a relaxing way to spend part of the afternoon and a lot cheaper than traditional high tea at the Empress hotel (maybe next trip).
On our walk back to the ship, we made a quick stop at Lush – a store selling handmade cosmetics made from natural ingredients and many times, entirely vegan. The store was a lot of fun to visit and this is where I spent a good chunk of my souvenir budget. Now that I’m home and have already sampled the products, I know it will be a favorite store!
The problem with the stop at Lush was that we barely made it back to the ship on time. The security guards were laughing at us as we made it back in the nick of time, a mere 5 minutes before they were to pull up the gangplank. Oops! But it was a great end to the cruise and Victoria truly was a beautiful gem. I’ll definitely be back.
Disembarkation I chose express disembarkation, meaning you have to carry your own bags off. This was not a problem for me, since I only had my one bag. The ship was supposed to dock at 7am and we were supposed to leave at 7:15…which turned into 7:45. Again, this is something Celebrity could work on making more efficient. I’m not sure what the delay was. Anyway, I was through customs by 7:55 and at the train station by 8:05 to store my suitcase and walking through Stanley Park no later than 8:30. All in all, not that bad of a delay.
Stanley Park – My first stop for the day was Stanley Park. The park is HUGE! In fact, it is 1000+ acres (compared to 843 acres of Central Park in NYC). There is no way I saw all of it, but I gave it my best shot. I walked along the sea wall, which is a beautiful walk. My favorite part was seeing all the sea stars on the beach since it was low tide. What a sight! While I didn’t walk the entire sea wall, I made it from the entrance, near Lost Lagoon, to Third Beach before heading up Merilees Trail to Prospect Point. The views from there were really pretty and I enjoyed walking through the park and seeing the different stages of life in the forest. Afterwards, I walked back down via Eagle Trail to the aquarium.
Vancouver Aquarium – Within Stanley Park is a small, but great, aquarium. I went primarily to see the belugas which were quite a treat. I loved watching them. The other exhibits are also nicely done and I would highly recommend the aquarium. I spent about two hours here; probably 45 minutes walking through, 15 minutes mesmerized by the belugas, and the other hour divided between several shows/demonstrations.
Lunch – At this point, I was so hungry that I was tempted to buy a hot dog at the aquarium, but thankfully the $5.75 price tag scared me off. Instead, I caught a bus back into town and had lunch at Nuba Café, a Lebanese eatery offering delicious food (much of it vegan, which I am not but thought someone might want to know for reference). I ordered the Najib’s Special Platter, which is crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with tahini, taboulleh, hummus, salad, pita, and roasted potatoes with sumac and herbs. All of it was really good and I knew it was a good choice because it was busy the entire time I was there…all the customers being locals Yum!
Granville Island – My next stop for the afternoon was Granville Island. I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy it after being disappointed at Pike Place Market. However, Granville is a whole different experience. The farmers market was largely the same (and unfortunately I wasn’t hungry enough to sample anything) but there were galleries to explore, street performers to watch, and an entirely different atmosphere. While Pike seemed hectic, Granville felt relaxed. I enjoyed it thoroughly. TIP: It might look close on a map, but take a bus and don’t walk over the bridge. I made it but I had worked up a sweat by the time I got there.
I had just a little time left before my train back to Seattle, so I stopped into the public library for some more free internet. Grabbed a snack to-go from a nearby café and made it to the train station with time to spare. The ride back to Seattle was again comfortable (the movie this time: State of Play) but a lot more inconvenient. In the evening there are no scenic views and I was worn out from a long day (especially considering I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before) so I just wanted to be in bed instead of on a train. I don’t think it would have been so bothersome if I had spent the night in Vancouver, as originally planned, before returning to Seattle to fly home. Better yet, I would book a one-way flight to Seattle to have some time there and a one-way flight from Vancouver to also have some time there (or vice versa) so that you only have to make the transfer once. Hindsight is 20/20
For my last night, I stayed at the American Hotel (affiliated with Hostelling International), which is only about three blocks from the train station – an easy walk with a rolling bag. It was cheap, conveniently located right near the downtown bus tunnel, and again there were friendly people staying there. Probably an even better choice than the Green Tortoise and worth the extra money. Free breakfast was slim pickings.
Since I had seen so much in Seattle pre-cruise I only had one last stop to make before heading home: Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store. It sounds like an odd destination, but I really enjoyed wandering the aisles and I was able to get some great snacks for the flight home.
I grabbed the #194 bus back to the airport – a breeze compared to the light rail. It only took about 25 minutes and there was plenty of room for my suitcase.
I was supposed to fly out at 1:30pm, connecting in Chicago, and arriving back home at 11:30pm but since I had nothing better to do in Chicago, I went to Sea-Tac early and was able to fly standby and get home earlier. There was about a 30-minute delay in O’Hare, but overall an okay experience.
Celebrity (and Alaska) for Young Adults Celebrity is not the cruiseline typically suggested to people in their 20s: I read over and over again to try Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Norwegian. However, I had an excellent time on Celebrity and would consider them again. I think their newer, bigger ships would offer tons to do for young adults and even the Millie had enough to do given the limited amount of time onboard. While I would not make a blanket statement that young adults should cruise on Celebrity, it is certainly worth the consideration. If you want to party all night long, it’s probably not the cruise for you, but if you are looking for a relaxing time, it might fit the bill perfectly.
Alaska is definitely for people of all ages. Seriously. There are so many excursions offered in each port that there is something for everyone. Whether you are looking for scenic viewing, wildlife searches, fishing, ziplines, hiking, cultural experiences, museums, or simply walking through town and shopping, you will find it in Alaska. If you take the time to read through the excursions offered, you will certainly find something that sounds like fun, regardless of your age, interests, or physical ability. It is a shame that young adults don’t usually make it to Alaska until they are older – I’m guessing I wouldn’t be able to complete that glacier trek if I was in my 50s but it was a real highlight of the cruise so I’m glad I made it to Alaska early The other upside to going young: you have lots of years to return! I will be back, probably several times.
Celebrity for Solo Cruisers This was my first solo cruise, and I broke EVERY piece of advice that others give as far choosing your first cruise. I see a lot of suggestions to start by trying a short (3 or 4 day) cruise to see if you like it. Well, my first solo was a 10-day and I loved every minute of it! The long cruise gives you time to really meet a lot of other people, get to know the staff, and make friends - so you are never lonely!
I also see suggestions for us "youngsters" (I'm in my 20s) to try cruiselines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean so we can meet people our own age. I cruised Celebrity and it worked out really well for me. There were others in my age range (a few 20s and a lot of early 30s) and we easily connected on excursions/onboard activities that typically appealed to a younger crowd. So I found plenty of people my age to hang out with And better yet, I met people of ALL ages to talk with and enjoy their company. I heard hundreds of great stories from people with way more travel experience than I have and I really enjoyed meeting others as well. Of course, my personality is NOT to spend all night dancing or partying, so it didn't matter to me that everything slowed down around midnight. If that's important to you, you may want to look at other cruises. I guess my biggest piece of advice is to pick a cruise that fits your personality, interests, and priorities instead of listening to general advice given on these boards.
My other piece of advice is to definitely join your roll call. My group ended up being great and I had a lot of fun attending group activities - sailaway parties, wine tastings, cruise connections gatherings, etc. You know there is a friendly face onboard if you ever have a problem (thankfully I didn't) and you have an instant group of people to socialize with (if you choose to). I even met several people who were nice enough to invite me to the specialty restaurant so I could have that experience and not have to dine alone (I never would have gone on my own but I am sooooo glad I tried it). My only "problem" was that I ended up meeting so many people that I never had a moment to myself unless I retreated to my room - I was always seeing people in the halls, bars, lounges, theatre, dining room...this was okay with me and when I just wanted to chill I tried to find a quiet corner somewhere to get "me time". It really helps that I had a great group of people on the roll call, who were even more fun in real life, and I hope to keep in touch with several of the people I came close to.
The absolute best part about cruising solo (for me) was that I could do whatever I wanted in port. I did not have to compromise and spend some time doing things other people wanted to do - I could just spend the day as I pleased For me, that usually meant spending all day touring, doing lots of walking, and doing very little shopping. For you, it might be the opposite!
I was lucky enough to get the cruise I wanted for only 140% which I felt was a fair price. In the future, I would look for either a low supplement, a low base, or both - for no more than $100/day altogether but ideally less than that (a girl can dream...) I booked an inside cabin, which was hugely enough room for one person. It was very comfortable and I would book an inside again.
The only hidden cost of traveling alone that I found was at nights I didn't always feel comfortable walking by myself in areas I wouldn't give a second thought if I was there with another person. For example, in Seattle I found that giving panhandlers a few dollars was easier than trying to avoid their glares/comments if I walked by at night. Taking a taxi from place to place instead of walking would not have been that expensive (just another cost of traveling alone) but often times I didn't find a taxi driving by when I needed one so I chose just to walk the few blocks.
I never had any problems dining on my own. For breakfast and lunch, I always went solo and was seated with others in the main dining room and sometimes chose to eat by myself and sometimes with others in the buffet/aqua spa. It all depended on whether I wanted to socialize or if I wanted to eat on my own - sometimes I craved the time to just eat and work on my sudoku or read the "newspaper". It worked out perfectly for me to have the options. At dinner, I had late dining with great tablemates and ate at the specialty restaurant twice (with friends from the roll call) and ate at the casual dining on my own. I never ate alone unless I wanted to. Cruisers are a friendly group of people who would love to have you join them!
I did not see events for singles listed in the daily schedules. I did meet a few singles over the course of the cruise, and it was very easy to distinguish who was "single and looking" and who was simply traveling solo and not looking for special companionship. I'm sure you can find whatever you are looking for. Everyone who was single was respectful and friendly when I said I was only looking for friendship. Couples, whether doing activities together or who were on their own for an hour to try an activity, were also friendly and willing to spend time with me. Like I said, Celebrity cruisers are a good group of people.