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Celebrity Solstice docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Which Celebrity Cruise Ship Is Best for Your Alaska Vacation?

Celebrity Solstice docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust

Sep 13, 2023

Read time
4 min read

If you love Celebrity Cruises and are finally ready to plan that Alaska cruise, you'll be spoiled for choice in 2024 and beyond. That's because the cruise line is placing more ships than ever in the Last Frontier.

With Celebrity, you have a choice of three classes of ship for your Alaska adventure. Each one comes with pros and cons. We're going to break them down for you so you can choose the best Celebrity ship for your needs.

(For more details on what the different classes of Celebrity ships have to offer, read Solstice vs. Millennium or Solstice vs. Edge).

Choose Celebrity Summit for its Better Itineraries, Refurbished Spaces

Retreat Sun Deck (Photo: Gina Kramer/Cruise Critic)

Yes, Celebrity Summit is part of the oldest ship class that the line has, Millennium-class. The ship has been through a refurbishment program, however, that made it much more modern and in line with newer Celebrity vessels. Suite lovers will find that this is one older ship that has a Retreat Lounge and sundeck, as well as lighter and brighter dining rooms and public spaces.

But the real reason to choose Celebrity Summit over the other two ships sailing in Alaska is its itineraries. The ship is sailing one-way trips between Vancouver and Seward, which gives you several more days in Alaska than round-trip itineraries from Seattle or Vancouver. A typical cruise on the ship spends four days in Alaskan ports, plus several hours set aside for scenic cruising at Hubbard Glacier. The downside here is that the airfare could be more expensive since you're flying out of two different airports.

Still, we think the extra time in Alaska and the ports that you get on this itinerary -- Icy Strait Point and on northbound trips, Sitka -- in addition to the usual stops of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway make this the best choice.

Choose Celebrity Solstice For Its Gorgeous Sky Lounge, Hubbard Glacier Visits

Hubbard Glacier in Alaska (Photo/Chris Gray Faust)

In 2024 and 2025, Celebrity Solstice moves from Seattle to Vancouver for its Alaska homeport, which offers a slightly better itinerary (although not nearly as good as you'll find on Celebrity Summit). The upside is that you visit Hubbard Glacier instead of Dawes, which is generally easier to see from the ship, even if you don't take the extra (and expensive) small boat excursion that gets you closer to the glacier. The downside is you still only visit three ports -- Juneau, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan.

Celebrity Solstice is the first of the line's Solstice-class and it has not received a major refurbishment. On a recent sailing, we found the ship to be more tired than trendy, and it was missing some of the glamour that you find on Celebrity's newer or refurbished vessels. We wouldn't recommend booking a suite on this ship, for instance, as it doesn't have a full Retreat complex. Still, the ship does boast the lovely Sky Lounge, which is perfect for scenic cruising. The specialty restaurant Tuscan Grille at the back of the ship is also a great choice for a late evening meal and fantastic sunsets.

Choose Celebrity Edge if You Want a Newer and More Luxurious Ship

Celebrity Edge (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

2024 will mark the first time that Celebrity puts an Edge-class ship in Alaska. This is a boon to those who love the newest style of Celebrity ships, with a more centrally located martini bar and a fully realized suite complex in The Retreat. The controversial "infinite verandas" on Celebrity Edge, where you lower a window for fresh air as opposed to stepping out, are actually a preferable style of room in cold regions. You can lower your window and take a photo quite easily, without having to put on a bunch of layers to step outside.

Sailing a bigger and newer ship in Alaska comes with a tradeoff. Celebrity Edge will homeport for its Alaska season in Seattle, sailing round-trip itineraries. While Seattle cruises to Alaska often allow Americans to find cheaper airfare (and the Seattle airport can be easier to deal with on a busy day than Vancouver), the itineraries that leave from the U.S. don't give you nearly as much time in Alaska as the others. You also stop at Dawes Glacier, as opposed to Hubbard, which is not as easy to see from the ship. If you're on this itinerary, make sure you sign up for the small excursion boat trip that takes you closer to the glacier. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Also, yes.

Updated September 13, 2023
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