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717 Celebrity Alaska Cruise Reviews

We just returned from the Celebrity Solstice May 30 sailing from Seattle to Alaska (inside passage). We had an awesome experience overall. The ship was the nicest we've been on (we've sailed on Princess and several other ... Read More
We just returned from the Celebrity Solstice May 30 sailing from Seattle to Alaska (inside passage). We had an awesome experience overall. The ship was the nicest we've been on (we've sailed on Princess and several other Celebrity ships, including Millennium, Constellation, etc.) The ship was superbly designed to avoid crowding in any area and was decorated in light (white, off white) tones and leather and silver so that there was an airy, light feeling we had not experienced before. We were amazed that with so many people aboard, we never felt crowded. AQUA CLASS. We had an Aqua Class stateroom. I would recommend it to others. It means you are in a quieter part of the ship, right under the swimming pool midship (easy access to everything), you get access to the Persian Garden (so relaxing) and best of all, to a smaller dining room, Blu, where the food is heart healthy and made to order. And there are no kids in there. BLU. Blu Restaurant is more sedate and the service is very attentive. The room is gorgeous and there is lots of ocean window seating available. All the servers are good but I think they put the best ones in the specialty restaurants, which Aqua Class is. I am not sure the food will be appealing to everyone. They try hard and mainly succeed, but it isn't exactly like the other dining rooms where you can try this and that if you don't like something. You feel sort of restrained. Not by anything Celebrity does, more from your own "eat healthy" consciousness. We found most dinners pretty good; some were king of bland. But the point is you are eating veg-based sauces, not sugar or flour-based sauces, so the food is bound to be different. One recommendation I had for the chef was to offer whole grain breads. It's weird to me that in a health conscious restaurant, the bread basket is white flour French bread and bread sticks. The dessert options are good - a few no sugar added desserts as well as traditional desserts prepared in a lighter cooking style. Blu tries very hard to offer a good dinner. We ate all our dinners there and had breakfast there once. We ate in the other dining room 3 times and the Ocean View Cafe 3 times for breakfast. EXCURSIONS. We went on the FIsh House tour in Ketchikan. Interesting talk by Mike, who has lived there since 1957. He owns the restaurant Fish House and some property and is very knowledgeable about the city, the fishing, and cooking. This year he had a new chef, a new grad from the Culinary Institute of America in NY who I am predicting will be an acclaimed chef before he's 30 His name is Taylor and he has an amazing amount of experience and passion for food and cooking for someone his age (I'm guessing 25). He prepared us an incredible tasting menu and told us all about the food and preparation. Clearly one of the highlights of our trip. I think it's well worth the money, but just so you know - a little expensive. In Juneau, we chose the food demonstration/Mendenhall Glacier/Alaska Brewery tour. We had a terrific bus driver, a kid from Idaho who was entertaining and informative and very sweet. The food demo was "okay." What I got out of it was a feeling for a local character (the owner of the cooking center), a relaxing glass of wine, some interesting chatter. I wasn't blown away by the food prep - it's not exactly rocket science what she did. But I did get a sense about Alaska's approach to food and cooking. The Mendenhall Glacier was ok. We were dropped off there for an hour and mostly, we didn't know what do except look at it and walk around a little. I don't think anyone was too impressed, but we all felt that it may not be there after a while, so might as well see it now. I get it . . . The Alaska Brewery was the best! The fellow who led the tour was funny and informative and the beer tasting was excellent The beer can be bought in 17 states now. Sadly, we aren't likely to see it in the east coast It's delicious and they have built a sustainable model that is worth knowing about and supporting. And they seem like they are a family; I love to see that in businesses. In Skagway, we took the train up the White Pass. It was fun and relaxing. The weather was a little cold and rainy, but we were indoors so it didn't matter much The narrator was good. I sort of wish she didn't come down to "introduce" herself (in other words, ask for a tip; I think the ship should just build in $5 pp or something - it's expensive enough that another $5 isn't going to matter, and would be much more palatable folded in). That's my suggestion; I'm sure others will feel differently I just hate the obviousness of it. I understand some people took the train one way and biked down the other way That might've been fun but I'm not sure I would've liked that in the rain. POOL AND SOLARIUM: On the at sea days, we enjoyed the pool. It was a little chilly but so sunny it didn't matter. When it was cooler, we enjoyed the Solarium, an adult-only area. The first day, someone who either didn't read the signs or didn't think they applied to her, took her 5 year old into the adult indoor pool in the Solarium. I politely said something to her and then the pool butler came over and politely told her that the area was adults only. YEAH FOR CELEBRITY!!! In the past, when I've said something about kids in the adults, only area or about people smoking where they shouldn't, Celebrity or Princess has said, "we can't tell the guests what to do." Really? No, this time they got it right - the rules are so that everyone can enjoy the ship! Glad to see Celebrity enforced the adults, only rule around the Solarium. Actually, they balanced it out by offering family hour 4-5 PM which gave the kids (there weren't that many) time in the indoor pool. I think they got it right this way! FRIDAY NIGHT RELIGIOUS SERVICES. There wasn't. One thing I was disappointed about was no Fri night service. We had gotten used to having a Shabbat service on Fri night. On Solstice, the policy seems to be if there's no rabbi to lead it, there isn't a service. I guess they didn't think that laypeople could do it. I think it would be simple and a nice thing to do to offer a meeting place and post it to gather there at whatever time sundown is. No need to make a big deal about it; just post it, throw in a bottle of wine and a challah. What's the big deal? They could even say, "although there's no rabbi on board, we invite our Jewish guests to meet at 7 pm . . ." It wouldn't be hard to do! ENTERTAINMENT. Pretty good. The theater is nice. There was a magician for a few shows. He was entertaining. Sort of what you see on AGT! Oh, I should mention, Brent Nixon, the naturalist, is an amazing presenter He has so much knowledge and passion to share. I know, you think, who needs to go hear someone talk about whales? But you do! He's fascinating He helps you understand what Alaska wildlife is all about. A real treat that he's on board. DRINK PACKAGE. I had trouble figuring out what to do about the drink package so I'm going to take the time to give some information. We chose the Classic package as part of the 1-2-3 promotion. A good value, given the price of drinks. I upgraded to the Premium for myself because I like Grey Goose and enjoy wine more than my husband does. We drank specialty coffees and fresh squeezed OJ without having to pay $5 each time, too, also part of the package. I think you have to drink more than we do in order to feel it's a good value. I got a value of an $800 package for about $200 (I had to sacrifice my "early bird discount" of $200 to get the promotion). Was what I did worth $200? Sure. Was it worth $800? I don't think we spent nearly that, but somewhere in between. So I do think it worked out for us. But consider before you take the promotion whether you drink the better brands, in which case you need the premium package, and whether you'd spend $79 per day on drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol) before you buy it. It is really nice to have it built in, I will say that. I manage my money all year long so it was nice to have an "all inclusive" feel to the trip - as they say on the Master Card commercial - "priceless." For us, we didn't drink nearly $800 worth. I can't remember what the other promo option was - maybe the $300 gratuities. Anyway, remember when you pick your option to consider whether you're going to have to upgrade anyway. (By the way, I met a lot of people who had taken the drink option, but also a lot who had taken the gratuities option.) This and that: we were told to buy binoculars before we go. No need. At least if you are in concierge or aqua class, there are a pair in the room. We didn't need to waste our money on them. Shopping? Not so much - some Alaska quartz jewelry that is interesting. Beaded bracelets. ULU knives. The usual assortment of tee shirts. Definitely bring a swim suit. I bought 2, just wore one. We packed too much (as usual). Oh, if you are Aqua Class and eat in Blu, there is no need to bring dress clothes! You don't need to dress on formal night if you eat in a Specialty Restaurant like Blu. I wish the Celebrity person I spoke with about this had been more direct. When I called to ask, she said "a sports coat is fine" so my husband didn't have to lug a suit and extra shoes. But really, he didn't even need that so he carried 2 sports coats and dress pants for nothing. Overall, we had a marvelous trip. The staff was accommodating, the guests were great - interesting people. It wasn't a party boat like you get in the Caribbean. Much more sophisticated, but still lots of fun. Some older people, a few multigenerational families traveling together. Not too many kids. (I recommend not bringing the 5 year olds) No teens (probably still in school in May). People say AK sailings are "more mature." We found that to be the case (we're on either side of 60).   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
As close to perfect as could be hoped for. From embarkation to debarkation, Celebrity tried their best to make the cruise as enjoyable as possible. Embarkation took less than 45 minutes from the time I was dropped off till the time I had a ... Read More
As close to perfect as could be hoped for. From embarkation to debarkation, Celebrity tried their best to make the cruise as enjoyable as possible. Embarkation took less than 45 minutes from the time I was dropped off till the time I had a glass of champagne in my hand standing on the ship. The ship was in great shape in every aspect from what I saw. We ate in Blu and the food and service was beyond great. We also ate most lunches in the buffet, which did have some issues the were mostly caused by other passengers. The issues is mostly that it's hard to find a seat because people seem to want to use the tables as a place to spend time and chat instead of eating and then going to one of the other places on the ship that are meant for relaxing and chatting. We were able to get by this by heading to the back of the room where we always found a spot. The adult beverage venues were plentiful and we found the service good in all but 1, the pool bar seemed to have problems keeping the popular beer, wine, and liquors in stock which caused them to have to go in the back storage to get them and caused service to suffer a bit, but this is a small issue. Entertainment was not great but was adequate and there seemed to be something for everybody to do and sometimes too many choices to be able to do all the things that you wanted (a plus) and there all places all over if you just want to do nothing. I had to visit the ships service desk twice because we were charged for drinks that were part of our drink package, they we apologetic and took the charges off with no problem (a minus but not a big issue). Debarkation went smoothly, when our time came, we were off the ship and had our bags outside in about 30 minutes. All in all this cruise was a 9+ out of 10 and would positively do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Background information: My husband and I are in our early 30s with two small children (who stayed with Grandma while we headed to Alaska). This was our first cruise and first trip to Alaska (though my husband had been to Victoria before). ... Read More
Background information: My husband and I are in our early 30s with two small children (who stayed with Grandma while we headed to Alaska). This was our first cruise and first trip to Alaska (though my husband had been to Victoria before). I wanted to try a cruise; my husband wanted to visit Alaska. So, there you go. After researching online (and yes, here on CC), we decided to go with Celebrity, and our desired date and itinerary gave us the Solstice. We booked in September in 2013. Hotel information We stayed at Inn at the Market in Seattle prior to our sail away. Fabulous hotel! We stayed in a recently renovated room (city view) on the 7th floor. The front desk staff and the concierge were always friendly and quick to advise and help. We also enjoyed a dinner at the Pink Door, a local Italian and seafood restaurant just steps from the hotel. Another enjoyable point in Seattle. Ship information Activities We participated in both day and evening activities. During the day, we went to trivia, talks by on-board naturalist Brent Nixon (knowledgeable and humorous), Miss Amanda (history of the Titanic--new perspective with historical details), Celebrity Chef Cook-off (I was one of the guest chefs!), Jackpot Bingo (hubs was only one away, a "stander" from winning!), and the Hot Glass Show. I must plug the Hot Glass Show. The show that we attended included an interesting twist, where a child from the kid care designed a "monster whale" that was created for him to take home--how cool is that?! Also, they created a special piece for auction to give money to breast cancer research. Fascinating process and good deeds! We also attended evening programming including Sin City Comedy (not for the weak--be prepared for some language, ribbing, and lots of laughing--hilarious, with a side of burlesque), Jason Bishop (magician/illusionist who was amazing--especially with quick hand movements), and the best of the best Solstice the show (cirque-like feats). This last show was magnificent! I had to continually remind myself to close my mouth, because my jaw had dropped and remained there. We sat in the third row--wow! What an experience; if you're up for some excitement, sit close and enjoy! We also enjoyed the spa. We utilized the relaxation room, the Persian Gardens, the sauna, the steam room, and the exercise area. Many, many amenities that were free to us (or included in our AQ fees). As this was our first cruise, we were so busy trying new things, and since it was rather port/excursion intensive, we didn't book any treatments, though I hope to do so in the future. Service Okay, CC participants, you had me worried. Granted, I have never cruised before, so I have nothing to which to compare my experience. I was beyond satisfied. Every staff and crew member we came in contact with, whether passing each other on the deck or in the hallway, at the bar, in a restaurant, at the door with room service--we were always greeted, smiled at or nodded at, asked if we were enjoying our day/night/meal/trip. There was no where that I went on the ship where I felt unattended. There's a reason it's called "the hospitality industry" and it was apparent that the staff and crew of the Solstice are quite aware of their industry. Port & shore excursions (see below for our excursions--all booked through the cruise line as we are newbies and didn't know any better) Travel to embarkation Port We flew on Alaskan Airlines to Seattle. I can see why they are ranked #1 on customer satisfaction. We used AlreadyThere car service from the airport to our hotel downtown. Cab from downtown to Pier 91. Cabin (see below for cabin and deck info--Aqua Class 1672, aft, deck 11) Dining I'll save the best for last. ;) We enjoyed lunch at Aqua Spa Cafe the most. It was light and delicious. My husband didn't care for the crowds in the buffet. We did enjoy some meals in the Ocean View Cafe buffet, but at odd times when traffic was low (2pm, 9pm). We also had our first meal, our embarkation lunch, at the Mast Grill. Basic burger and fries set up. Enjoyed the view of the harbor more than the burger, but it was okay. We enjoyed dinner one night in Murano. Excellent service, delicious food, and served at a leisurely pace. The curtains were drawn the entire time (8:30pm-10:30pm), but I believe this was because the view may have been of life boats. This was the first night of our cruise, and I feared that we were spoiled. How could the rest of our dining live up to this? But then... BLU. Oh, how we love thee. If Celebrity took away all the perks of Aqua Class (please, do NOT do this, Celebrity!), but left only Blu, we would book it still. We plan to sail with Celebrity again, and Aqua Class will now be a must for us as we love, love, love Blu. Smaller venue, chatting with your neighboring tables, and the view. One night at dinner, a woman near the windows spotted a whale. The restaurant emptied towards the windows to view the sealife. With each tail flip, we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed; the servers twirled their towels/napkins--it was such a fun sight. And then we spotted dolphins! And then orcas! It was twenty minutes of viewing, cheering, and communing with fellow travelers. One server announced, "Only in Blu, ladies and gentlemen!" We all cheered! The food, oh the food! Lamb, lobster, trout, rabbit, salmon, pheasant, duck...and of course baked Alaska! And for breakfast...Muelsi! Prepared table-side, and I'm glad that they did as my husband has requested it for breakfast at home now. Disembarkation We chose to self-disembark as to enjoy the maximum amount of time in Seattle prior to heading to the airport around 12noon. We had carry-on only luggage, so it was quite easy for us. We had also purchased an Ulu knife and had to pick it up, but that was effortless and well organized. On our US customs card, we had checked that we had food (including meat), but encountered no problems. From ship through customs took us 15 minutes. We hopped into the taxi line, where we waited for another 15 minutes until we were on our way to the Space Needle. Summary We loved our cruise. We loved Alaska. We loved our aft cabin. We loved Blu. We plan on cruising again and traveling to Alaska again. We also plan on booking with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
First, our bona fides. My wife and I are in our mid-thirties, and have been on only one cruise before, Carnival in 2007, with stops in Key West and Cozumel. My wife and I arrived at Seattle airport on the morning of our cruise (5/16) ... Read More
First, our bona fides. My wife and I are in our mid-thirties, and have been on only one cruise before, Carnival in 2007, with stops in Key West and Cozumel. My wife and I arrived at Seattle airport on the morning of our cruise (5/16) having planned most of our trip, but with no real idea of how to get to the port. Fortunately, we saw a Celebrity employee at the baggage claim, who directed us to the cruise-line sponsored bus to the seaport. We were able to get our bags checked and set up for room delivery, which eliminated the hassle of having to find a cab and drag our bags to the ship. Our bus driver was funny and informative, and gave us plenty of insight into Seattle. Some of our fellow passengers rudely yelled out about the air conditioning being too cold, but I thought it was just fine. However, once we arrived at the port, the embarkation was another story. (This is going to be a pretty good review, so I feel bad that I’m starting with what was, by far, the worst part of the trip, but since I’m doing this chronologically, it can’t be avoided.) After entering the terminal, we spent about 2 hours in what was a poorly managed line to reach the front desk. Lines were being routed and re-routed while people were standing in them, and I saw one poor group stranded at a literal dead end for more than a half hour. This was the only point of the trip that I felt the difference between us as “normal” passengers, and those who were in Concierge, Elite, and other “special” subcategories, as the line I was in was stopped while at least 50 higher status passengers were allowed to move ahead of us. I felt that the person “expediting” the line did a poor job in explaining and handling the process. However, some of our fellow passengers were also yelling very rudely at her, which was, quite frankly, much more annoying and uncomfortable than the wait. I heard rumors of the computer system being down, but once we finally got to the front, it took less than 5 minutes to check in. Now for the good stuff. Our room was open and clean as soon as we arrived on board. We had room 9133, which was a port facing balcony room on the 9th floor deck. I found the room to be big enough for all of our needs, and it was quiet and clean through the cruise. Eric, our room attendant, was fantastic, timing his visits perfectly. The balcony was fantastic, with great views, but far enough from the deck above that it was very quiet. Were it not for the fact that we were travelling to Alaska, and would have probably frozen, I might have just dragged a blanket and pillow and slept out there. Dinner during the first night was in the main dining room. Our table location was not ideal, as we were behind the wait station and pretty far from windows, but we had a good group to eat with. Service was very polite and attentive. I had a New York Strip Steak my first night, which was a bit overcooked, but not terrible. After dinner, we headed over to the main theater to see the “preview” show for what was upcoming on the ship, and then, realizing we had been awake for 20 of the last 24 hours, gave up the fight and went to bed. The next day was a day at sea. There were two HUGE highlights of the day, which really set the tone for our trip. The first was the Alaska show, presented by Brent Nixon, the show’s naturalist. He is FANTASTIC. His presentations are informative, funny, passionate, and all around brilliant, and his enthusiasm for the subject was infectious. As Neil Degrasse Tyson is to space, Brent Nixon is to Alaska – just a great, great experience. The second highlight was dining at Murano. It was just surreal. So, so, so good; I am a sucker for French dining, and Murano holds up against any stateside restaurant. My entrée was Lobster Murano, which was prepared tableside, and was exquisite. For dessert, I had a chocolate soufflé, which was probably the best soufflé I have ever eaten. We received expert service from Tatu, our waiter, and Marjan, our sommelier. With very full stomachs, we trudged off to bed (a common theme on this trip.) The third day, we pulled into Ketchikan – Alaska at last!! As we were slated to spend a long time there, we doubled up on excursions, starting with KE88, the Tongass Rainforest Hiking Expedition, followed by KE93, the Fisherman’s Market and Seafood dining tour. While the good workout that we had on the first excursion was quickly negated by the calories consumed on the second, both were a very good time. Night three also featured another dining highlight, as we dined at Tuscan Grille, which probably has the best view of any restaurant, featuring a panoramic view of the aft of the ship. While it is very hard for any restaurant to compare to Murano, Tuscan Grille held its own. My meal consisted of tomato and mozzarella salad, a veal chop, and a selection of gelato; all were very good. Again, we did not leave hungry. Day 4 was a very early start, as we woke up early to choose a spot on the front of deck 12 in order to see the wonders of Tracy Fjord. This was a breathtaking experience, abetted strongly by the narration of Brent Nixon. The ship pulled very close to the Sawyer Glacier, and turned to allow ample picture taking opportunity. I would highly recommend waking up early (especially those of you still on east coast time), bundle up, finding a spot with a good view of both sides of the ship, and let nature unfold. Day 4 was also the day of our excursion to Juneau. This was, unfortunately, my other major complaint. While I’m not sure if this is true with all Solstice trips to Juneau, the boat unfortunately did not dock at the port, but anchored away from the dock, and tendered passengers ashore. The tender process was badly delayed, as we sat for almost an hour and a half after our scheduled departure time. While the people directing our excursion were very understanding, it did limit the amount of time we had to spend it Juneau, and we found ourselves rushing back for one of the final tenders rather than spending any time in town. The excursion itself was fantastic, JU67 – Alpine Zipline & Glacier Adventure, was fantastic, and highly recommended, but it needed to be cut short due to the tender delay. We capped off Day 4 by going to Silk Harvest. I really enjoyed Silk Harvest as well, and think it is every bit as good of a dining choice as Tuscan Grille. I enjoyed some of the sushi entrees, and found the roast duck entrée to be quite delicious. Day 5 was another great day! We spent most of it in beautiful Skagway, starting with the wonderful excursion, SK84, the Ocean Raft Wildlife Adventure. We followed that up with a pricey but delicious lunch at the Harbor House, right next to the port. We spent the next few hours walking through the town, visiting the various stores and finishing off souvenir hunting for our family and friends. Day 5 was yet another dining highlight. Owing entirely to my wife’s charm and ebullience during our other meals, we were invited to the Chef’s Table dinner at Murano with four other couples, along with the ship’s food and beverage manager, who graciously answered many day to day questions about the ship, and gave us a better idea of exactly how many moving parts went into keeping the production afloat. I will not spoil the details of this expertly prepared meal, but will merely say that, if you have the opportunity to attend the Chef’s Table, then DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The next two days were effectively days at sea, which we took advantage of by sleeping late, lounging around the ship, catching up on our reading, and repeat visits to Tuscan Grille and Silk Harvest. Given our experience with the embarkation and tender to Juneau, we elected to simplify the departure process by carrying our own luggage off; it ended up being a good choice, as it took all of ten minutes from the time we left our stateroom to the time we cleared customs. Again, with the exception of the embarkation difficulties, the tender at Juneau, and the jaw dropping rudeness of some of our fellow passengers to the staff and each other, it was a fantastic cruise. The quality of the food in the specialty restaurants was fantastic, Brent Nixon was a revelation, and the customer service at all levels was outstanding. I would certainly take another cruise with Celebrity.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I are in our mid-sixties. This was our third Celebrity cruise and our first time to Alaska. Celebrity has, over the years, provided us with some of the most memorable times of our lives. We also tend to see the positive in most ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid-sixties. This was our third Celebrity cruise and our first time to Alaska. Celebrity has, over the years, provided us with some of the most memorable times of our lives. We also tend to see the positive in most experiences rather than seek out the negative. We have no association with any cruise line or travel enterprise. Having made that disclosure, I will proceed with this review. We live in Tallahassee, Florida so we had to fly to Atlanta and then on to Seattle. We arrived at SEA-TAC about 3 pm, grabbed our bags and took the shuttle over to the Marriott across the street for a night’s stay and to relax before our relaxing cruise. The next day we took a shuttle from the hotel to Pier 91 for $12 per person. Easy and fast. Embarkation was orderly and without delay even although it was crowded. As usual, we went on board Solstice and sat with our champagne in the lounge waiting on our room. Not long afterwards we went to our Concierge room 2106 and sat on the large balcony for a while before heading to the required safety muster in one of the dining rooms. Our tradition is to get to the outdoor Sunset Bar at the back of the ship for departure. The Sunset is pretty crowded at departure times. The weather in Seattle was perfect in every way. Mount Rainier, 60 miles away, was as clearly visible tall in the sky over the water. Departure was everything we hoped for and more with serene water and beautiful sights...new experiences for new memories. I have written reviews on here about our other two Celebrity cruises so I won’t go into detail about this and that because the “on ship” experiences are similar as you can read in the other reviews. There were no surprises this time. Those who complain about the food or the selling of merchandise, etc. should probably double their fare and cruise on a smaller more inclusive ship. We like the diversity of people on board and meeting people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. Of course you can’t please everyone, but Celebrity does a very good job of trying. The Alaska cruise was different from our two Caribbean cruises on Celebrity (on the Equinox). This cruise was more in the category of “educational” or at least for us it was because there was so much to take in visually and to try and comprehend the enormity of what you were seeing. The towns we visited Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway were very small and interesting. You get a feeling of the ruggedness required of people who permanently move to these places. Most of the workers in the stores in Skagway I spoke to were students from the lower 48. We got into this long conversation with a young woman in one store about different native designs. I asked her where she was from...Orlando she replied. Go figure. Ketchikan was a neat town with lots of shops and things to see. (Yes, the same diamond stores are there as in St. Marten !) Not to worry though as there is a lot of history, great hiking and all of nature. We spent a few hours on a guided hike through a rain forest and then paid a visit to the eagles, hawks, owls and other critters being rehabilitated in the refuge. We then walked the town and visited shops. Tracy Arm Fjord is hard to describe. It makes you reconsider your significance or rather insignificance. I woke up at 5:30 and peeked out the curtain on the sliding glass door to see a wall of granite 150 ft. beside us that was thousands of feet higher than the ship. We both walked out on our deck to hear Brent Nixon (the ship’s naturalist/docent who gave many amazing lectures) on the public address system providing the details and history of the fjord. It was like being in a huge cathedral all by yourself with the ship barely moving past blue icebergs and glacier cut granite. There were no sounds just total silence. Brent’s calm and reverent descriptions were chilling (as was the air). You also wondered how our Captain got this huge ship in this narrow fjord. This was a most unique experience. Juneau, the capital, was the largest town we visited at 32,000 population. We took a tram (huge enclosed ski lift on cables) up the side of the mountain to a nice facility. We wanted to hike, but it started to rain so we settled for a beer instead. We then took the tram down and walked over to the capitol building, which had just closed for the day. It is just a six story building that probably doesn’t pass for a capitol elsewhere. Skagway was the northernmost point on our cruise. A rugged little town with shops and an interesting history. After walking around town in the rain, we went to our excursion to board the White Pass Railroad for a most exciting trip up and over the mountain to Canada. The scenery was top notch as it follows a trail that many involved in the gold rush took by foot, which is as hard to believe as the railroad that was built there. You never get off of this train with its narrow gauge and period cars although you can walk between the cars to get some great photos while you freeze. Halfway up, it started to snow and kept it up most of the way to the top. You barely pass into Canada, stop while the engine moves to the other end of the train and move your seats the other direction for the trip down. Lots of fun. We sat with a fun group of women from New Orleans who also smuggled a bottle of Capt. Somebody? on board. Then it was two days at sea and we ported at Victoria, BC for a few hours. A lovely, sparklingly clean city with great food. After that we headed for the short cruise back to Seattle. This was an enjoyable seven days that we would repeat in a heartbeat. Our next is Celebrity’s ultimate Christmas cruise. We highly recommend Celebrity and Alaska.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Embarkation: We arrived at the Smith Cove cruise terminal in Seattle at about noon. It was packed - the cab line was so long that it took us almost ten minutes just to get dropped off. The lines inside were reminiscent of Disneyland on a ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the Smith Cove cruise terminal in Seattle at about noon. It was packed - the cab line was so long that it took us almost ten minutes just to get dropped off. The lines inside were reminiscent of Disneyland on a summer weekend - we actually stood in one line just to get into another line! But everyone was quite helpful and we were on board in about 45 minutes. We had lunch and wandered about the ship. My suitcase arrived in our cabin about 4:30, and my wife's about 6:00 (it had been delivered to the wrong cabin, but out steward sorted that out). This was quite a change from our first cruise, where we got on board in less than 10 minutes and had our luggage delivered 30 minutes later. The ship: This was our second cruise. Our first was a couple of years ago on the Holland America Oosterdam. There was a quite a contrast between the two; the Solstice is a lot bigger (2,800 passengers vs 2,000) and the decor is less ostentatious and more modern. Our stateroom (veranda stateroom on 8th deck, starboard side, forward) was quite nice. It was clean, and we both thought it was more spacious than our similar stateroom on the Oosterdam, especially the bathroom. Our veranda was not only larger, but because they have sliding glass doors on the Solstice (unlike the Oosterdam), all of the space was useable. And use it, we did. It was nice that we could lock the door in an open posotion and not have it take up space either inside the stateroom or on the veranda. The staff: Without exception, they were all helpful. In a sharp contrast with the crew from our previous cruise, they didn't spend a lot of time trying to sell us stuff. All spoke English very well, and were unfailingly polite and friendly. The restaurants: We chose the freestyle dining option instead of the fixed dining times, and ate in only two of the restaurants; the buffet (I forgot the name) and the main dining room (the Grand Epernay, whatever that means). I thought the main dining room was quite nice and not at all overdone, but I overheard others saying it looked "plain" and "minimal". The buffet: we ate breakfast in the buffet every day. Breakfast is a hard meal to screw up and the Solstice didn't. It was hard at times to find a seat, so I took advantage of being an early riser to eat before 7:00 most mornings and had no problem. My wife ate later and we settled on a method of finding a table for two, and then each of us getting our food separately. I was really pleased to find that Solstice offered an English breakfast section, with baked beans, broiled tomatoes, cooked mushrooms, English sausages, etc. However, I discovered the next day that the American-style sausages and the English-style sausages both tasted exactly the same. At lunch, the cafe offers a variety of offerings, from Indian food (I *loved* the papadams and accompanying relishes and ate them every day) to Chinese food to hot entrees to Mexican food to pizza to sandwiches, soups, and salads. I found something new every day, and enjoyed it all. The Grand Epernay: we made reservations for the main dining room almost every night. I don't know if it's the case elsewhere, but every time we sat at a "table for two", we found that our "table for two" was about two inches away from several other "tables for two", which was a slight surprise but not a disappointment. The food in the Grand Epernay was really good. Given the number of meals they have to turn out, I would have been surprised if the food had been outstanding, but a couple of our meals reached that level - especially the salmon. There were a few curiosities: I ordered prime rib, which was great, but it came with no horseradish. And in general (especially in the buffet), much of the food required salt and pepper. For every table there was a head waiter, an assistant waiter, a wine steward, and a cocktail waitress/waiter. I never knew who to order from. There were two formal nights. Ladies wore nice dresses (some very formal), and men more coats and ties (and pants of course). Other shipboard stuff: There was a wide range of passengers from around the world, of all ages. I'd say that the average age was 45-50. We really enjoyed the music on board. There were two jazz combos, which made a jazzoid like me *very* happy. There was also a good singer-songwriter, a pop band (or two), a country-western band (with a small Elvis imitator!), and a classical music trio. They were all great. There were lots of on board activities but we cruise to relax, so we spent most of our time either staring at the beautiful scenery, looking for whales, or reading. The Solstice had just one daily general announcement - every day at ten AM the captain would give a brief report, and the cruise director (is that his title?) would give a very brief rundown on activities for the day. That was a nice change from our previous cruise, where there were several announcements daily. We only attended one of the evening shows, and didn't care for it. But we don't care for that sort of thing in the first place, so we might have been biased. We really enjoyed the ship's naturalist, Brent Nixon. He gave several extremely educational and highly entertaining talks about the flora and fauna of the Inside Passage. There are several bars on the ship, and we found two that we liked. The Martini Bar is a "flair" bar on the 4th deck, where the bartenders juggle bottles, and pour multiple cocktails at once - one of them poured 12 martinis at once. Highly entertaining. There was also a quiet bar on the 5th deck (the Ensemble Lounge), just outside the specialty restaurants. That was where the jazz groups played. Disembarkation: No sweat; no hanging around waiting for your group to be called. We carried our own bags and were off the ship and into our cab in less than five minutes. Overall: We really enjoyed the cruise. The scenery was spectacular, and the amenities on board were great. I think we've found a cruise line we can stick with. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our 7th cruise up to Alaska, 3rd on Celebrity and the 1st on the Solstice. We've sailed on the Equinox before so cannot say we were wowed and surprised by the S class. For us, the S class is absolute perfection on the water. ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise up to Alaska, 3rd on Celebrity and the 1st on the Solstice. We've sailed on the Equinox before so cannot say we were wowed and surprised by the S class. For us, the S class is absolute perfection on the water. We arrived early in Seattle from the SF bay area and were greeted by a friend that took us on a tour of the Emerald City and out for breiakfast at this New Orleans style restaurant -- simply delicious. We mentioned that we were on this 'Chef John Howie' cruise and she was impressed. I had never heard of him before but the TA said we would not be sorry -- well, she wasn't kidding!! More on that later but the special events set up for this rather small group (I would say it was no more than 50 passengers) were phenomenal. We arrived at the ship and booked the Aqua Class for the first time and so were whisked over to the AQ line with very few passengers waiting to check in. Check in was quick but not so efficient -- they couldn't get their cameras to work and the clerk seemed to be overwhelmed but ended up getting the job done. We were not allowed into our cabin as it was only about 12:30. We found some comfy chairs up by the pool and met some nice people also waiting for the room clearance. Norris, the cocktail waiter kept our whistles wet while we were waiting. We weren't hungry as we just had breakfast a couple of hours earlier and by about 2 PM, we were allowed to check into our rooms. We met up with our friends that we were travelling with and grabbed a bite to eat in the buffet. The fire drill was shortly afterwards, ours held in Murano, which had a very strange smell so we chose not to try it later in the cruise. Stateroom: This was our first time in Aqua Class and there really didn't seem like there was any difference between this class and the Concierge Class that we booked on the Equinox. The cabin was nice, though, just missing the extras that were listed on Celebrity's website. We requested a body pillow (the pillow menu being a perk of the CC and AQ) but our room steward didn't seem to think we were entitled to it. He finally did bring it but only after he checked with his supervisor. It was much like that for the entire cruise. He never properly introduced himself or his assistant -- but we figured it out as we went along. We've had better room stewards in the past but didn't let it ruin our cruise. The bathroom design is so fabulous on this class, however, the countertop was filthy the entire cruise -- before we got there and when we disembarked. The shower, however, was clean and the shower spigots were pretty awesome. Celebrity's bedding and pillows are so comfortable and like the rounded corners -- made it feel a bit roomier. I find there is plenty of storage space in these cabins, despite what others have mentioned. I imagine if you are not very tall, the shelves above the bed are not quite as handy. The balcony was standard and in Aqua Class, you also get a foot stool, but found it was a bit cramped with the chairs and stools ....but it was nice to have the stools for nap time outside, so not really a complaint. It was just a little squished when our friends came up to hang out with us out there. Oh yes, did I mention, we had the most gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather during this cruise so visiting and nap time was definitely outdoors. The carpet in the room was getting a bit worn and very dusty in the corners. I think that room just needed a deep cleaning. Maybe the room steward was busy with the suite guests right next door, so for us, he was less than stellar. The location of our room was perfect -- situated just aft of the midship elevators but seeing it was on the port side, a couple of times, I could smell the smokers from the pool deck above. I noticed they opened the windows up there and it wafted down to our room. I am really sensitive to the smell of smoke and just noticed it a few times and it was faint -- so really wouldn't keep me from booking in that location again. We were nearby the library, which I didn't visit this time around but it would have been convenient if I were to read there. Dining Venues: Starting with Café al Bacio -- just fantastic coffee and pastries. Well worth the extra money for really good coffee. Buffet: I really love the set up for the buffet on Celebrity. My favorites are the sandwich bar (very friendly staff there) the stir fry station (staff couldn't be bothered there but the food is good), the pasta station and the salad bar and Caesar salad station. The food is actually of pretty good quality throughout the buffet area -- I just like those the best. We never had breakfast or dinner up in the buffet so am just commenting on snack time and lunchtime goodies. Blu: Wow...this was the biggest surprise and just awesome all the way around. The food ranged from very good to amazingly excellent. The staff -- the BEST!! Laura greeted us warmly every time we went there and did her best to seat us at a suitable table. I don't really mind the table set up that others complain about. I find it makes it easy to either visit with your neighbor but the boundary exists if you don't feel particularly chatty. The waiters and wine steward also were very friendly -- no request they weren't happy to fulfill. Main Dining Room: We went to the main dining room twice and it just wasn't that special after experiencing Blu so found other ways to visit with our travel mates. The food was ok but the seemed to sit us next to the same screaming kid and family and I just wanted to hurry through the meal to get out of there. Tuscan Grill: This is an amazing restaurant with the most beautiful view on the entire ship. One of our Chef John Howie events was held in this restaurant and it was amazing (although the service was a bit slow). We were treated to whales playing in the wake towards the end of our special luncheon. Aqua Spa Café: The food here is always a winner. We wanted to order a glass of wine with our lunch here and were sent somewhere else to purchase it. On the Equinox, they actually got a waiter to do that for us. Not a deal breaker but we were purchasing it so would have expected a bit more of a service aspect. Mast Grill: probably the best French fries on earth, which is why we only went there once. Grand Buffet: OMG -- the good was so good, however, They did seem to be running out of some of the food -- kind of rationing it or so it seemed. But, it didn't affect our enjoyment at all. The service was kind of poor though --- were given dirty coffee cups and it took them about 10 minutes to find some clean ones. The dirty dishes were stacked on our table for over 30 minutes and we had to ask somebody to take them away. So maybe they need to address that although it still was still very nice. Room service: POOR -- we have not been happy with the room service on recent Celebrity cruises and haven't really learned our lesson yet ....well, maybe now. It just isn't worth the wait at all. We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants so really cannot comment on them. Persian Gardens / Observation Lounge / Indoor Pool: This is one of the perks of AQ -- I loved it immensely but my husband, not all that impressed. The Persian gardens heated tile chairs ranged from being completely filled to nobody using them. It was nice using them while in port as it wasn't crowded or noisy in there and seemed to really penetrate the tired muscles. The observation lounge, at the front of the ship, was no heavily used and had tea and water available. The girls working in front there were top notch....so friendly and accommodating. We were in this room during sail away from Ketchikan -- wow! Phenomenal views. The indoor pool is a must for Alaska, although we had such great weather. Nonetheless, love the beehive chairs and padded loungers. What a relaxing place to spend the day all with a great view from the windows, take a dip or soak in the hot tub. Very relaxing indeed. Entertainment: The cruise director wasn't really out and about as I am used to seeing but great entertainment was set up the entire cruise. We went to the magic show, which was just ok but the same guy did the hypnotist show and he was hilarious. We went to a couple of production shows, both of which were really good -- missed the Cirque type show, but heard it was great. We don't really attend the shopping talks or demonstrations -- so cannot really speak to those. The newlywed show is always a winner, this was no exception. I love that Celebrity has their shows in venues that actually seat the number of people that are attending. Too many times we've been skunked out of seeing a show because we didn't go an entire hour early...the venues are too small....but not on Celebrity. Love that. The centrum had the greatest singers -- really got the crowd involved. Everybody seemed to be dancing, singing, just having a good time. The martini bar is always fun but the freeze of the bar feature wasn't working. Again...not a deal breaker but it is a fun feature when it is working. It didn't seem to have the same allure without it. Captains parties: These are always fun ...the one for select and elite is just great. They aren't stingy with their most loyal passengers -- NICE!! The casino didn't seem to have a lot of activities set up but maybe they were just kind of quiet about them. We found the poker machines were not so friendly but did have some luck on the slots. The staff was very friendly and they had plenty of smaller bills on hand. Chef John Howie experience: So, we booked this without knowing what it was really going to entail. We were quoted four special events for this group, which consisted of about 50 passengers (or so it seemed). We had a hard time finding the first event, which was at sail away up in the observation / sky lounge. There were excellent appetizers and cocktails available....and some really nice people in our group. The chef made himself available for conversations -- very friendly man. What a great way to start off the cruise. One of the events was a galley demo -- but it wasn't really our thing but no way out. I heard the one for the rest of the passengers was much better. There was also a cooking demonstration by John Howie but we had something else to do so didn't attend. The best was saved for last, which happened to be on our anniversary. We were treated to a four course luncheon in the Tuscan Grill with wine pairing -- all Washington State wines which were excellent. John Howie has a few top notch restaurants in Seattle (or so we learned) but heard most of them were steak places. I was expecting to have some good bread and salads as I don't eat red meat, but we started off with a seared scallop appetizer -- simply excellent -- paired with a Riesling, once the waiters figured out we were sitting there without any wine, bread or appetizer , that is. Next, came the salad with either peaches or nectarines and a nice vinegarette which wasn't overpowering at all. Just the right combo ...and this was paired with a lovely Chardonnay. We moved on to the salmon over mashed sweet potatoes ...couldn't figure out the sauce used but it was delicious. This was pared with a Saggi )never heard of that before but it was a red wine that did not steal the thunder from the salmon dish. Then, came the dessert -- a fantastic strawberry shortcake drizzled with a gran marnier (sp?) paired with a dessert wine. The chef went around and visited with every table in the grill at which time we mentioned this had been the first cruise up to Alaska where we hadn't seen whales. No sooner had I said it, the whales made their appearance off the back of the ship....they seemed to be playing in the wake of the ship. What a treat!! This made our trip and our anniversary very special. That night, we were in Victoria and chose to stay aboard. We went up to the lawn club and enjoyed a special bottle of wine that was given to us for our anniversary. Since we had such a fantastic lunch, we just got some little appetizers from the buffet and enjoyed the sunset from the back of the ship. Disembarkation: This was handled so nicely with Select and Elite members or maybe it was AQ and Elite members able to use the Tuscan Grill as their disembarkation lounge. They kept us notified but also stated if we weren't in a hurry, we didn't have to disembark until we wanted to....so we stayed for a bit until the crowds died down. Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 for this cruise. There were just a couple of service issues but overall, it was such a lovely cruise and the positives far outweighed any slight negatives. The Chef John Howie experience and the Aqua Class ....namely, Blu, made our cruise so very memorable. We actually booked the Solstice again next year but for a bit longer cruise. Seven days just isn't long enough....but alas, we didn't book the Aqua Class due to the increase in cost. At least we will be on the ship!! Post Cruise in Seattle: We stayed at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. The location was fantastic -- 5 minute walk to Pikes Market, 1.5 blocks from the monorail to the Space Needle / Seattle Center, and just two blocks from the light rail that takes you to the airport. The room was absolutely spotless and quiet. The beds were so comfortable and the room was nicely appointed. We ate at the Chowder place -- advice we got here on cruise critic. It was fabulous. Our travel mates also stayed one night in Seattle but don't really care for downtown so we asked around on good places out of town to eat and ended up at Chinooks at Fisherman's Terminal. This was such a great casual atmosphere, excellent service and fantastic menu. We loved it and would highly recommend it. It was such a warm night that we took a little walk that night after dinner and didn't find it to be dicey at all. All in all, a great trip ....and a great memory!! PS -- I took over 500 pictures in Alaska so not likely to forget it any time soon   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Arrival and touring Seattle.  Since this was a Seattle to Seattle itinerary and we had not been in Seattle for many years, we arrived a day early and took some time to wander around Seattle. the highlight was the Chihuly glass Museum. The ... Read More
Arrival and touring Seattle.  Since this was a Seattle to Seattle itinerary and we had not been in Seattle for many years, we arrived a day early and took some time to wander around Seattle. the highlight was the Chihuly glass Museum. The man does magic with glass. The Space Needle remained un-visited since it was hazy and there wasn't much to see even from that height. We took the monorail from Space Needle to downtown and it seemed familiar enough that we were surprised when Tomorrowland wasn't at the other end. Very Disneyesque. The Pike's Market area was crowded but very interesting with many unique shops and vendors. Pike's Brewery and Pub was another highlight. A very scenic day that was worthy of many pictures. Hello Solstice! The Holiday Inn had a $7 per person flat rate shuttle that departed to pier 91 every half hour. Embarkation was quick and uneventful, getting us aboard at around 11:45am. I have to say that stepping onto the ship and being handed a glass of champagne never gets old.The ship was much as we remembered her with the last five years having little effect on her beauty. The wear and tear we did notice consisted of small things like worn edges on wooden chairs and weathering of the exterior teak furniture, which in my view simply added character. Moving into our stateroom offered no surprises. It was clean and comfortable just as expected. We welcomed ourselves aboard by eating dinner at the Tuscan Grille. Absolutely worth the price of admission! The first day was a sea day and my early morning photo walkabout confirmed the condition of the ship... still pretty after all these years. We had sailed on the Reflection in April of this year and though the ship are sisters and share many of the same features, there were some noticeable differences. The most disturbing difference was the fact that Michael's club had not yet been converted to a craft brew bar as it had on the Reflection. (*sigh*) I had not remembered that the tail end of the Oceanview Cafe and the Sunset Bar were constructed very differently on the two ships. The Sky Lounge on deck 14 forward has not yet had its port half cannibalized for a super-suite. A Molecular Bar has been added but Qsine was missing. One of my favorite features of the ship is still there. The Golden Ant room has not changed and is as intriguing as ever. Food & Drink As mentioned before, our first night's dinner was in the Tuscan Grille and was spectacular. Possibly the single best steak I've ever had. Very flavorful and you could cut it with a dirty look. The food in the main dining room paled by comparison but was still very good with decent variety. Our waiter wasn't bad but spent an awful lot of time reminding us of how important good marks on the comment card were to him. We realize how important those marks are and if he spent half that time and effort remembering our names or drink preferences we would give them to him without prompting. We have had a long string of excellent waiters and maybe our expectations were too high. The Oceanview Cafe gets a lot of bad press for serving the same food every day. While this is mostly true, one has to consider that the number of dishes and variety is very large and one could go many days without repeating a meal. The food itself is tasty and well presented so, it gets a thumbs up from us. Since most of our alcohol is served courtesy of the Captain's Club, we only visited a couple of the bars. If you haven't tried the Molecular Bar, do so. Truly unique flavors and very interesting to watch them being made. The Martini Bar makes some of the best martinis available on any ship we've been on and most shore-side bars as well. On the second sea day a brunch was presented in the main dining room. This highly visual event has replaced the mostly ignored midnight buffet and judging by the lines at the omelet and waffle stations, wastes a lot less fancy food. we tried the burgers and hotdogs at the Mast Grille one day and found them to be made with quality ingredients and well prepared. The condiment selection was pretty lean but I guess one could go back into the Oceanview Cafe and raid the salad bar. Ports & Excursions Ketchikan was our first stop and I have to say that the little town hasn't changed much in 15 years. it was a little touristy back then and it's a little touristy now. Still quaint and a lot of fun. We did our shopping early then departed on our shore excursion to visit Alaska's black bears. On our fifth trip to Alaska, we finally saw bears thanks to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. The tour had great guides and very effective viewing platforms. The first part was a little unnerving...walking down the path to the platforms, stepping over bear poop and listening to every tiny sound on either side of the trail. All in all it was a wonderful tour and we would do it again in a heartbeat. Juneau The day in Juneau started late due to glacier viewing in Tracy Arm being on the schedule for that morning. Our excursion started by leaving the ship and boarding a tour boat right in the middle of the fjord. The smaller boat was able to approach within a quarter mile of the face of two different glaciers and gave us the most spectacular glacier day we have ever experienced. We visited several inlets too small for the big ship and were close enough to the ice floes to see the seals basking. Several times we were almost close enough to touch the face of the five thousand foot cliffs towering over the fjord. They even backed the ship up so close to a small glacial waterfall that one of the crew actually stuck his head in the icy cascade, much to the delight of all onboard. During the long trip back to meet the ship in Juneau, we enjoyed an unscheduled but spectacular encounter with a pod of humpback whales resulting in my best fluke photo to date. We re-boarded the ship on one side and immediately boarded a tender on the other to head to the town for our whale watching tour later in the day. We had a few hours to kill so we wandered around the shopping district with our friends for an hour or so then split up and headed over to Sandy’s Crab Shack for a quick lunch. If you haven’t had the pleasure, Sandy’s is located in an alley behind a parking structure. It reminded us of one of the nicer food booths at a state fair. Simple, clean and really, really good food. The crab bisque and crab cakes were as advertised...excellent. After lunch we went the rally point for the afternoon tour and soon boarded the bus to the boat. It was a Celebrity arranged tour run by the same company as the Tracy Arm tour and we didn’t regret choosing a ship-sponsored tour over finding one on our own. Our driver gave a lively running commentary on the way and before we knew it we were on our way back out to sea in search of whales. It would have been one of our best whale watching trips to date if we hadn’t had that moment of incredible good fortune on the return from tracy Arm. Still, it was a good show and we were treated to a great sunset on the way back in. The bus ride back to the dock was as entertaining as the trip out and we ended the day with a quiet but heartfelt woo-hoo. Skagway What can you say about Skagway? Historic? Yes. Successful. Quite. A hundred “Isn’t Texas cute?” t-shirts for each resident? Probably. We didn’t have a tour scheduled so we did the Broadway shopping walk and stopped for lunch at the Skagway Brewing Company pub at the end of the retail strip. After a long, meandering walk back through the crowds, we were ready for a nap and the Captain’s Club cocktail hour. Sea Day and Victoria Thursday was a quiet day cruising the inside passage. It started out as a foggy mystery and suddenly, there was sun. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly! One minute we couldn’t see 50 yards on any direction and then, boom! We sailed out a wall of fog into a beautiful sunny day that lasted all the way to Victoria. We were scheduled to be in Victoria for only a few hours to satisfy the Jones Act so we chose to just hang out on the ship. A relaxing evening ended with bidding our suitcases adieu courtesy of the Luggage Valet program. Twenty bucks per person and your luggage is delivered to the airport, checked in for you and you get to walk off the ship as soon as it is cleared the next morning. You don’t see it again until you get to your final destination. It isn’t offered in every port but when it is, we jump on the chance to use it. Disembarkation and Home The ship cleared on time and we were off and on our way to the airport by 9:00 AM. We bought transfers the day we boarded since the $27/pp was about the same as a taxi and about as reliable as you can get. A four hour wait in the terminal and we were on our way. No muss, no fuss. Conclusion This was our fifth trip to Alaska and we feel that it was the best so far. The weather was incredible compared to the past trips and the Solstice was a wonderful venue unto itself. Our mediocre waiters (a first for us on Celebrity) were offset by the Captain’s Club loyalty ambassador, Tenushka (sp?) who was engaging and a perfect hostess for our entire trip. Celebrity’s unusual policy regarding Captain’s club events was the only smudge on a shiny experience. Why they will hand out thousands of dollars worth of booze at a gathering to anyone who holds out their hand but insist that you pay for sparkling water if a member doesn’t want to drink alcohol is confusing to say the least. The $2.88 for a San Peligrino (including mandatory tip) wasn’t more than a blip on the cost of our cruise but it certainly highlights what happens when a policy is made based on some bottom line calculation without taking a moment to look at the downstream results in any detail. Our tours were Alaska-expensive but worth every penny. The ports haven’t changed much over the years and that’s fine with us. The bottom line: We had a great time on a great ship that took us to a great place. Photos can be seen at my share site: http://galleries.pptphoto.com/alaska2013 Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
First off I like to thank all the celebrity employes for making this vacation wonderful! Cabin- We had a inside cabin with family across from us in a balcony. Cabin was good size lots of storage space for your stuff to go. The Balcony was ... Read More
First off I like to thank all the celebrity employes for making this vacation wonderful! Cabin- We had a inside cabin with family across from us in a balcony. Cabin was good size lots of storage space for your stuff to go. The Balcony was very nice! I would recommend it to anybody, just make sure its not on deck 9, their is an over hang which blocks some of your view. Room service was quick and pretty good cant complain there, the bathroom was a little outdated for the inside room but the balcony seem to have been updated. Yes there is rust in some parts of the balcony but really people why should that bother you? Your looking out into the ocean not the ship. Ship- Overall the Mill was nice, not great. It seem to take a little longer to get around to knowing your way around. The main atrium was the biggest disappointment not very "eye popping" like other ships kinda boring. The Cosmos is a great place to sit and watch the ship leave port. Food- The biggest part of the cruise! :p The buffet was not very good at all, would recommend eating in the main dinning room for lunch and breakfast if you can. Dinner in the metropolitan made up for the buffet. Every night dinner was spot on! Our servers were amazing Ranjit and Mary were unbelievable the made the experiences that much better. The drink waiter was ok she seem to skip our table every night, maybe because we had a few drink packages idk? I would recommend the drink package, it was very nice and made the cruise that much more relaxing, no signing paper or showing your card all the time! Entertainment- Was good but the cruisers were the boring part. One of the bands was fun and sounded great but nobody every really danced. Yes I know this is not a Carnival party ship but still if your looking for more of a younger crowd go with RCL or Carnival. Excursions- The highlight of the cruise!! Ketchikan we went fishing and caught quite a bit and the captain said it was a slow day, you could ship your fish home for $89 but we chose not to. We wished celebrity would stay longer at Ketchikan, lots to see not enough time. Icy Straight Point, we did the zip line and it was awesome!! So much fun! The ride alone is very pretty to get there. Would highly recommend doing. Juneau we went to Mendenhall glacier which was neat. Skagway was by far the best place! We did the helicopter which is unbelievable, words can not describe what we saw, if your going to spend on one thing let it be this! Hubbard Glacier was a big disappointment. Get there wayyyyyy to early in the mooring and spend an hour there, which it took to get close to the glacier and then we just turned around a left very disappointing. Overall, my family and i enjoyed our cruise and would recommend the Celebrity Millennium to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
What a fabulous week we had on the Millennium. The balcony was definitely worth the extra money. The inside passage was smooth sailing. Gorgeous scenery. The naturalist on board highlighted what we were seeing through narration. Pack for ... Read More
What a fabulous week we had on the Millennium. The balcony was definitely worth the extra money. The inside passage was smooth sailing. Gorgeous scenery. The naturalist on board highlighted what we were seeing through narration. Pack for cooler weather with layers you can peel off. We had sunny weather in the afternoons once the fog lifted i which happened in some ports. Whale watching with Hoonah Tours in Icy Strait Point is a must- smaller boat than the cruise line trip. The rafting trip in Juneau with the ship is a must. Then you can take the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts on your own. If time permits find the Alaska Beer store and take a beer tasting tour. The Skagway train ride is an incredible trip with beautiful scenery. We booked off of the ship in the port- book with the cruise if you can- not much difference in price. We did the selective seating which was great. We ate often at the Aqua Spa by the indoor pool which was lighter for lunch and breakfast. They will grill you fish or chicken to order. Definitely visit the martini bar and see Bekir in action. Qusine and the Olympic restaurant are worth the extra fee. All of the staff was accommodating and eager to please. The shows were okay when you were seeing a special guest rather than the ship's cast. Our trip was an Excite your Senses cruise with great extra events to attend- most with a fee. We did one water package which was fine. We ordered drinks a la carte and wine - which worked for us. Only big drinkers should do the full beverage package. Skip the expensive spa treatments- and yoga classes which you pay for. The gym was crowded but we were able to use some machines after a wait. Bring warm clothing including gloves for Hubbard Glacier and rain gear. Bring binoculars, a good camera, and you will be set. We look forward to another Celebrity cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We had the unfortunate experience of being on the August 16th sailing that ended up stranded in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was definitely not the trip we planned, but it wasn't all bad either. We arrived at Canada Place for embarkation ... Read More
We had the unfortunate experience of being on the August 16th sailing that ended up stranded in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was definitely not the trip we planned, but it wasn't all bad either. We arrived at Canada Place for embarkation around 11 am. The line for Customs was pretty ridiculous and slow. Once through that, the rest of the embarkation process was pretty quick and easy. Onboard, we immediately went to lunch at the buffet and waited for the rooms to be ready. We had Family Oceanview stateroom 7199. Wow! We were a party of four (a forty-something couple, retired mom, and 10 yr old). It was a good room setup with the closing divider and two tvs. The balcony on this room is going to be impossible to outdo, except perhaps on the Royal Suite which is directly below. During our only two days of actual sailing, we really enjoyed being out on the balcony. There was a table with 4 chairs and two loungers on the balcony. Plenty of room for lots of guests. Beyond those first two days, it was a little depressing to see ship after ship come into and leave port. The only plus was having a direct view of the aft of several other ships and knowing we still had the best room. :) Hey, I was stuck in the salmon capital for four days; just doing my best to make salmonade out of salmons! For our dining room meals, we were paired with another group of four. They were two recently retired couples and were very pleasant to dine with. We'd had a reservation later in our sailing for the Olympic, but did not get to use it. We enjoyed many areas of the ship. The solarium pool was awesome! Loved the heat and built in loungers. Most days it was crowded, but you could usually worm your way onto the loungers within a few minutes. There were also many loungers that faced towards the outside of the ship. Many came with pillows and blankets and they were very comfortable. The shows were good. The comedian was pretty funny - it was fairly easy to make light of our situation, at least until the day they put us all off the boat. My daughter loved the kids area - they did a lot of scavenger hunts and she really enjoyed that. Family Bingo was a blast! I had paid for the VIP package, thinking she would enjoy staying after hours (as she normally does), but as there were fewer kids on this itinerary, she rarely stayed past 10. While we did not get the trip we had planned for well over a year, it wasn't all bad. The general staff did a fabulous job of trying to keep it business as usual. Unfortunately I think that Celebrity officers on board handled much of the situation poorly, particularly on the last two days. There was no single voice of Celebrity and it seemed the officers and corporate reps that were brought in were at odds much of the time. In spite of that, I AM thankful that they made the decision to bring us back into Ketchikan when they discovered the issue. It definitely could have been worse and we were glad to be in port and have freedom to come and go most days. I hope that they took away some lessons learned from this situation. I know I did. Our first 2 and a half days were amazing and I feel like the best was still to come. For this reason, we will be attempting this trip again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Solstice 8/2 Sailing to Alaska  7/31 & 8/1 Seattle  8/2-9 Cruise  8/10 Return home  Family of four: me 47, wife 47, daughters 14 & 10.  Third cruise for adults, second for children. We began the adventure by waking our ... Read More
Solstice 8/2 Sailing to Alaska  7/31 & 8/1 Seattle  8/2-9 Cruise  8/10 Return home  Family of four: me 47, wife 47, daughters 14 & 10.  Third cruise for adults, second for children. We began the adventure by waking our children to tell them we were going on vacation and to present them with a packing list. The girls found out about Seattle at the airport (we packed one extra suitcase and did not tell them about the cruise until we pulled up to the pier on Friday). Arrived Seattle 7/31 and stayed at Hyatt Olive 8. It was near the convention center and within walking distance of the Pike Place Market, the Aquarium & the Great Wheel. We hit all three attractions on Thursday and essentially had a wonderful time roaming the streets of Seattle. Friday After a late breakfast, we took a car over to the Pier 91. At this point he kids realized we were going on a cruise and soon realized it was on the Solstice (as opposed to Rhapsody). Much squealing and excitement. We had arrived around 11:45am and had a very easy registration and boarding process. We had booked two normal staterooms thus no preferential line, but encountered no wait through the boarding process. On board and done with lunch in no time. I would guess we were in our staterooms (9233 & 9235) by 2:00  2:30pm. Rooms: The adjoining staterooms were perfect for us. It allowed a degree of privacy and security for the entire family. We also were able to the open up the divider on the balcony to gain some extra room. Our cabin stewards kept the rooms clean and tidy. The girls enjoyed the towel creations each night. 9233 & 9235 were perfect locations. Right off the aft elevators and stairwell and smack in the middle of the hump. We were afforded clear views from the balcony and easy access to the rest of the ship. We never heard any noise from the hallways. Dining: Room Service: Our ten year-old had room service breakfast every morning. The orders were accurate and delivered in a timely manner. Buffet: This was where we took breakfast and lunch while on board. I found the fare to be good, but as noted on other posts it did become a little repetitive towards the end of the cruise. We had no issues with the temperatures of the various items and only had a couple of instances where we had trouble finding a seat. Main Dining We took all of our evening meals in the Grand Epernay dining room via Select Dining. This worked out great. We had an absolutely fabulous team every night. Gerry and Avilla were the wait team and Madelyn was our wine steward. Gerry and Avilla soon learned to accommodate the needs of a finicky ten year-old (lots of plain pasta and chicken strips) while calling the entire table by name by the second night. They really made the event special for our daughters. We had thoroughly enjoyable meals. I do not want put the food out as fine dining, but it more than met our expectations and I loved seeing our 14 yr-old try a number of the different menu items. We even got our 10 yr.-old to eat a steak on the last formal night. We had booked with the 123 Go package and upgraded to the Premium package on Day 1. More on drinking later, but I want to commend our wine steward, Madelyn. She came by each night and did a nice pairing of wines to go with our courses. After our first evening, we never had to show our SeaPass card again. She kept our glasses full and noted when we did not care for a specific wine. This threesome was really something special. Their service was on the level of fine dining and I cannot say how nice it was to sit with them each night. Drinking: As mentioned previously, we had the Premium Drink package for the length of the cruise. This worked out great. Bottled waters throughout the day. Coffee drinks in the morning and afternoon, wine with dinner and lots of alcohol in the evening. No problems getting served though a couple of waiters groused about the plan and the impact on tips. Molecular Bar: Junior Moreno was on-board and in the bar every day. He was quite approachable and encouraged us to try some of the off-menu drinks. I am normally a scotch drinker and do not mess with mixed drinks, but I confess it was a nice change of pace to explore some of the concoctions in this venue. Oceanview Bar  this turned out to be my favorite bar. It was somewhat sheltered (as opposed to the Sunset Bar which was very windy and chilly) and had a beautiful view of the stern. Maris the bartender and Judith the waitress were always very attentive and pleasant to be around. We sampled drinks from all of the bars. My wife is a Vodka girl and loved the Martini Bar. Michaels was tad disappointing for me. It is almost too secluded off of the Ensemble Bar and never really had much going on. It certainly did seem quiet after midnight. Things picked up towards the end, but while there were some confirmed drunks on-board, it was a rather sedate cruise. The casino bar seemed to consistently have a crowd late, but most of the other venues were pretty quiet. Entertainment Seemed to be hit of miss. We really enjoyed the Solstice Show. Sin City Comedy was fun and the Hypnotist was enjoyable. I did not care much for the other events and we pretty much skipped those. They had a range of performers in the public spaces. Some good and some not so good. In general, they provided nice background music, but most were not good enough to case the audience to stop talking and listen to them playing. Brent Nixon I give him special mention. We attended three of his talks live, watched reruns on the TV and purchased the video on humpbacks to take home. All were extremely entertaining and informative. My wife did not attend/watch these talks, and it made for fun times at the dinner table. I marveled how my girls would quote all the esoteric facts they picked-up from his talks during our dinner conversations. Spa Services My wife won a $100 raffle and scheduled some sort of crazy hair treatment. Not sure she would book again, but not really unhappy with it either. Kids Club Our kids had a blast in the kids club. There were over 400 children on-board. This was truly our first experience with such a service and both of them loved it. They had numerous events for this kids and they both came home with new friends. They participated in different groups and really seemed to enjoy the set-up. We are pretty conservative people when it comes to the kids, but I confess by the end of the cruise we were letting them sign themselves in or out of the club and simply stipulating they meet us for lunch and dinner. I also noted a good number of parents pleading with their children to give it a go and seeing the kids say no. Could only smile and remember that was us not too long ago. Do not want to compare to other ships, but I would not worry overmuch about kids having enough to do while on-board. Ketchikan We simply got off and took a series of walks around town. Went through Creek Street and followed the salmon upstream. Took a couple of trails into the woods and simply enjoyed a nice walking day Tracy Arm I woke-up at 5:30am and witnessed the whole thing. My wife is a late sleeper but I got her up at 7:30 am to see the amazing sites. They announced we were able to get deeper into the fjord than any previous Solstice cruise. As the ship did the 360 turn in front of Sawyer Glacier we saw a 100 ft section of ice fall off directly in front of us. Heard the thunder moments later. Absolutely wonderful! Juneau We docked and had no tender issues. Together with Tracy Arm, our Whale Watching/Mendenhall glacier tour was the highlight of the cruise. Booked through Orca Enterprises. Not only did we have Captain Larry, but also Brent Nixon was also on-board to narrate. What can one say, bald eagles, seals, sea lions and of course WHALES. We had one surface just off the stern and show its tale to us. I mean 15-20 feet away. We also saw one exit the water (I am told it was not a full breach) but that sucker was up and came down in a huge splash. Also saw a mommy and baby whale. The crew and staff on the boat were great and having Brent along made it a truly memorable experience. To top things off, we were dropped off at Mendenhall Glacier about 7:40pm. The guide said this could be a good time because most of the crowds had departed. This was true. Maybe 10 of us walking around. Almost immediately we saw a bear come down out of the trees and jump into the river and start munching on a salmon. Right there in front of us (we were on a bridge above the river) We were able to walk to a couple of different viewing areas of the glacier, falls and surrounding scenery. It is hard to get a real perspective on how big the glacier is. We saw the tour helicopters take off from the top and realized just how massive it is. They looked like gnats. Skagway Skagway was a nice little stop. We had beautiful weather and took loads of pictures. We booked the Yukon Sightseeing Tour from Southeast Tours. This was a smallish shuttle bus (10 passengers) trip up to the Yukon and back. We had a great driver and had ample opportunity to stop and take pictures. The biggest regret was not to have more time to stop and walk around. Victoria As noted on other posts, this was somewhat of a rump stop. We were off the ship by 6:30. We took a cab to Butchart Gardens. We had a very nice driver. The way it works is you hire this guy for $55 each way and he will wait for you for 1.5 hrs. The Gardens were quite pretty and 1.5 hours is enough time to get through them if you do not linger. We were able to be in between the big bus tours and never really felt crowded until the end. Departure Getting off and finding luggage was a relative breeze. We did not even have to show a passport. Just dropped off our declaration form and we were done. Getting picked-up was a bit of a challenge. We had reserved a car with Century Car to pick us up and take us to our hotel. The traffic in and out of the pier was a bit of a challenge, but we were still at our hotel by 11:00 am Random Notes: This was truly a fantastic vacation and experience. It certainly wets the appetite to try a different itinerary and even explore Alaska on foot/car. I certainly do not think every vacation we take will be a cruise, but I would have no reservations cruising with Celebrity again.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our first Celebrity cruise, having sailed three times in past on Royal Caribbean (RCCL) and once on Princess. We were originally booked for a cruise out of Boston on RCCL in September, but decided to cancel that when our favorite ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise, having sailed three times in past on Royal Caribbean (RCCL) and once on Princess. We were originally booked for a cruise out of Boston on RCCL in September, but decided to cancel that when our favorite winery, St. Francis in Sonoma, advertised this wine cruise traveling to Alaska on the Celebrity Solstice in August. We had a fabulous cruise and are completely happy with our decision to switch vacation plans. Knowing that Celebrity was the line "next in class" above RCCL, we did have high expectations for a luxury experience. But, other than REALLY appreciating the non-smoking environment and a nicer/bigger cabin bathroom, we certainly would not rate the line above RCCL. The service staff were excellent - friendly, attentive & customer-focused. We had a slight issue the first evening with our room steward not bringing ice, and the response from guest relations was overwhelming. They switched our room steward, delivered a bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries, and the head of customer relations came by our cabin to apologize in person. That was certainly much more than the situation warranted, but the immediate response showed an impressive emphasis on customer service. We were not as impressed with quality and taste of food throughout the ship. The buffet had a wide selection, everything "looked" amazing, and I really like the set up with stations, but almost everything we ate was a disappointment. But, they did get the basics right with lots of cut up fruit, cartons of fresh milk, and the omelets freshly made were pretty good. Most of the time, I only ate a bite or two of dessert since the taste wasn't worth the calories. The food in the main dining room wasn't any better. As a matter of fact, when we did enjoy something - we were really surprised. But, I don't believe this is reflection on Celebrity overall, and would not stop me from booking another cruise with them. Princess had the best food in my cruise experiences, but I won't sail with them again because I don't like the ships. The food on RCCL has been mixed - some ships fabulous and some .not so. As long as we can get fresh fruit and decent vegetables, we don't place too much emphasis on food for our vacation experience. We did have a better experience during our St. Francis food and wine pairing in the Tuscan Grille, and dinner there on our last night. But still, certainly not a 4 or 5 star experience. Another minor negative was the gym on board. Too small for the number of passengers, which resulted in waiting lines for equipment and the need to limit work out times. I don't get hours of free time at home to exercise, so it's frustrating to be limited while on vacation. I'm not sure what Celebrity can do about this, but I've never noticed the same issue on RCCL. (Note that my comment about never sailing Princess again is primarily due to their inadequate gym facilities, so you see where my priorities are)! For the details that most people probably look for in a review: Arrival into SeaTac on the morning of the cruise and transfer to the airport went quickly. We pre-arranged a town car through Seattle Tacoma Airport Express website. The cost was $50 for the two of us - simple and quick! Once getting through the traffic at the pier, we dropped our bags with a porter and waited for the check-in lines to open. Since this was our first Celebrity cruise, we had no "status". But, it didn't delay our embarkment in the least. We were on board, exploring the ship, and eating lunch in the buffet before 11 AM. After lunch, we read in the Solarium until our room was ready about 1 PM. After dropping off our carry-ons, we explored the ship some more. Our luggage arrived around 3 PM; we did the muster drill, and then went to the first wine event reception (fabulous) in the Wine Cellar. The St.Francis wine events on the cruise were outstanding. In addition to the welcome reception and food/wine pairing noted above, there was a very nice Zintastic wine tasting and a number of exclusive ship tours with champagne. All were special, and combined both Celebrity and St. Francis delivered on some wonderful experiences. We are certain to book another wine vacation in the future! Ports: In Ketchikan we booked the adventure boat and hiking tour. It was a very nice day. Took the bus about 30 minutes to the boat launch, traveled by zodiac boat about 30 minutes, then did some very light walking through the rain forest, repeat boat/bus going back. Great experience in a beautiful place. Traveling through the Tracy Arm Fjord was amazing. I guess we broke the record for the Solstice going into the channel the farthest (or do they say that to all the cruises?). But either way - really spectacular. We will do this cruise again in 2015 just to experience that one more time. Get up early, dress warmly, load your camera card, and ENJOY! In Juneau, we meet up with my boyfriend's family that had a boat and lots of whale watching experience. We were very lucky to dock (instead of tender) and we enjoyed several hours of wildlife viewing from our private family boat. We also did a drive by of the Meddanhall Glacier. Wow! Impressive. Worth the visit, no doubt. In Skagway we rented a car through Costco with Avis, and drove the 60+ miles to Emerald Lake. It was beautiful, and a wonderful way to spend the day. Our weather was amazing, and had I known I would have considered a kayak tour in one of the many pretty lakes. But maybe next time. Going to Emerald Lake is not about the destination, but more about a good spot to turn around. There is nothing really unique or special about that spot. (Although, I live by Lake Tahoe, which might spoil me for other sights). We didn't get off the ship in Victoria. We had vacationed there two years before, so we'd seen it before. We enjoyed the solitude of an almost empty ship and special dinner at Tuscan Grille. Again, the food was okay (lobster pasta was fabulous, filet just okay, fish very good) , but enjoyment of surroundings, waiter staff, and my sweetheart - - off the scales! Disembarkment was a breeze. We were picked up by family at the pier, so chose the latest depart time. So, we sat outside after breakfast until they made us leave. Then, walked off the ship with no lines or crowds. Bags were waiting for us downstairs. Overall we had a wonderful cruise experience that we would repeat anytime. Celebrity treated us very well, the weather was beyond expectations, and the ports offered a lot to see and do. What more could we ask for?!? We are already planning our next cruise vacation for 2014 - back to RCCL for that New England experience. We can hardly wait!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We live on the Olympic Peninsula, so we drove to a ferry and arrived in Seattle about 11:30am. The drive to the parking area from the ferry took forever, but once we got to the Seattle Cruise Park, things moved very quickly. The shuttle ... Read More
We live on the Olympic Peninsula, so we drove to a ferry and arrived in Seattle about 11:30am. The drive to the parking area from the ferry took forever, but once we got to the Seattle Cruise Park, things moved very quickly. The shuttle bus picked us up right by our car within a couple of minutes and we were at the cruise terminal five minutes later. We were a little overwhelmed by the embarkation process and it didn't help that we had some bulky, heavy carry-on items. Next time we will consolidate a bit and use a smaller suitcase with wheels to do the heavy work. We arrived at our room a little before 1pm and it was ready. We were extremely happy with the size, the layout, the balcony and the storage areas. The bathroom had an excellent shower and lots of storage space. Our room steward was Desmond and he did a terrific job of keeping our room tidy. As I mentioned, we were on our first cruise and we were stunned by the food selections in the Oceanview Cafe. The food in the main dining room, the Grand Epernay, was excellent, along with the service. Our only regret was that we didn't eat there more often (due to excursions and too lazy to dress up a bit more than for the Oceanview Cafe. We also missed the fancy brunch in the Grand Epernay because we didn't pay enough attention to the daily newsletter (don't repeat our mistake!) We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants; we were very happy with the main dining room and didn't want to spend extra money. The entertainment was everywhere, anytime. We especially enjoyed the circ de solie type show (Solstice -The Show), A Voyage to Remember (summary of all the productions) and most of all Brent Nixon's Beyond the Podium nature talks/shows. We saw every one of them, ranging from Alaska to Humpback Whales, Eagles, Sea Lions and Seals, Killer Whales and Bears. Don't miss his shows! There were obviously people with money onboard. We walked by an on-going art auction and heard "sold, for $40,000". The ports were nice, but very crowded-there were usually 3-4 cruise ships docked at each port. The stores and sidewalks were jammed with people, but we didn't do any shopping, so it wasn't too bad. We did two excursions-one to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau where we saw a mother bear and her two cubs about 20 feet from us. We were on a walkway and the mother was fishing in a stream right below us. Her cubs were up in a tree, lying motionless, waiting for her signal to come down for lunch. Our bus driver, Kyle, was outstanding, he was a wealth of information and very entertaining. Our only other excursion was the White Pass Railway in Skagway. It was well worth the money and the scenery was gorgeous. One of our favorite places to sit was the Sky Lounge at the bow of the ship on the 14th deck. The huge windows and variety of chairs and lounges made for a very relaxing place to watch the passing scenery. The highlight of the trip, besides the rest and relaxation and being pampered, was the Tracy Arm Fjord. The ship goes through it from 6am-10am, but it's worth every minute to get up early. Be sure and dress warmly (we needed a warm jacket, gloves and hats in mid August) and take lots of photos. There are waterfalls everywhere and seals on the icebergs and occasional sightings of bears, eagles and whales. We would definitely take the Celebrity Solstice again and would love to take a longer cruise to Alaska.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our 1st cruise with Celebrity and it was a homerun! We booked in AquaClass and have determined that this is the only way to cruise! Blu was truly an amazing treat - it was like eating in a 5 star resturant every night. The cabin ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise with Celebrity and it was a homerun! We booked in AquaClass and have determined that this is the only way to cruise! Blu was truly an amazing treat - it was like eating in a 5 star resturant every night. The cabin was spacious (as cruising goes) and plenty of storage and the bathroom was a dream - no backing up to get into this one. We upgraded to the premium drink package - 1st time we have ever bought a drink package and for us this was the way to go. No surprises when the bill comes at the end of the cruise. Service was always friendly and never had an issue of trying to get service once they found we had the premium package. We also pre-paid our gratuties and it was nice that was also paid for before our cruise even started. We did slip some extra money to some of the people who took extra care of us at the end. We feel that everyone should see Alaska once in their lifetime - truly majestic sights! Tracy Arm Fjord is amazing and was my favorite place. We got up at 5:00 a.m. and ordered in room service and sat on the balcony and watched the beauty pass by. Even tho the boat had 2960 passengers it never felt crowded except a few times when we tried to catch lunch before our excursions in the OceanView Cafe - so trying to find a table was a bit challenging but just go with the flow. We only caught a few of the shows and I will say - do not miss Brent Nixon - he is truly entertaining and sucks you into his tales of Alaska and it's wildlife. As for excursions, In Ketchikan did the Totem Park and walked around the town shopping - could have done not going to the Totem Park! In Juneau we did the Whatle Watching and Mendenhall Glacier. We saw amazing sights with the Whale Watching but was disappointed in the boat as not everyone gets a window seat and being we were the last boat to arrive we could not get a window seat and did not realize we were on a boat with 100 other people. Mendenhall Glacier was cool but after seeing Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord - it just didn't compare. In Skagway we did the White Pass Train and Goldrush Sled Dogs and loved both of them. Amazing sights from the train and loved to hear about the Idiotrod Racing and holding the puppies! Just note that when you get into the ports there are several cruise ships in the port with you so it is a bit crazy trying to shop in these towns that usually have 3000 people at most that are now inundated with 12,000 tourists. Wanted to explore the town of Skagway but decided we did not want to be in the throngs of all the people. My last advice is to pay the $20.00 per person to do the luggage valet at the end of the cruise. Once we set our luggage out of our door on the last night we next saw it when we landed in our home airport! They had our boarding passes printed so when we arrived at the Seattle Airport to fly home all we had to do is go thru security - what a great serice! We did not have to wait to get off the boat when our number was called - we could leave at any time! If you are thinking about Aquaclass definitely do it - it is well worth the upgrade. We are so looking forward to cruising again with Celebrity in Aguaclass! Sorry NCL and Carnival you have just lost 2 customers!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Celebrity Solstice Inside Passage ' Beautiful Alaska! We arrived in Seattle one day prior to cruise. We were very pleased with Shuttle Express private car service. We chose private car over shared shuttle to maximize our one day in ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Inside Passage ' Beautiful Alaska! We arrived in Seattle one day prior to cruise. We were very pleased with Shuttle Express private car service. We chose private car over shared shuttle to maximize our one day in Seattle. Private car from Airport to Hotel and then Pier 91 to Airport was only $18 more total after using AAA discount. We stayed at Red Lion Hotel which was ideally situated to walk around downtown Seattle. We wish we had planned at least two full days to explore Seattle. Embarkation: Red Lion bellman called for taxi for trip to Pier 91 - cost was $16 before tip and took 22 minutes in traffic. We timed arrival to Pier 91 very well ' at ~11 am crowds were nonexistent. Pier employee who checked us in said it would be much more crowded after 11:30. Total time from pier arrival to welcome glass of champagne on ship ' 6 minutes! Some other passengers mentioned a 1 hour wait to check in later in the day. We kept a backpack and one small carryon bag with our camera, electronics etc. with us. Placed luggage tags on all other bags. Oceanview Caf' on Deck 14 and Bar on Deck 15 were both open for lunch. Announcements were made every 15 minutes that rooms were still being prepared for arrival; we were able to get to our room around 1:20 pm. Bags arrived between 4 and 4:30 pm. Solstice: We had one very minor issue in our room and our Room Steward Magno, had maintenance handle our request promptly. Magno and his assistant Solento were great. They cleared out the mini fridge as requested, provided great service and made sure the room was spotless and the ice bucket was filled every day. Although we had great weather, it is definitely a crapshoot and you should take a rain jacket for each port just in case. Umbrella is provided for your use on the cruise. We attended almost all of Naturalist Brent Nixon's shows; he was very entertaining and informative. Broadway show was just OK, but the Solstice Circus show was great. Solstice Today was delivered each night with all info you need including weather for next day. The solarium on the ship was a great place to unwind with a book or just to relax and take a nap. Breakfast and lunch was very casual on the ship. Oceanview caf' was usually pretty crowded; you could get a quieter breakfast in the Grand Epernay Main dining room. Brunch was served on last full sea day from 10 am ' 1 pm. Formal night outfits for women ranged from slacks with a dressy shirt to long gowns. Cocktail dress or regular dress was most common. Formal night attire for men was a suit or slacks and sport coat. A few men wore tuxedos. All other nights were business casual. Not knowing what to expect, I took too many clothes ' I wish I had packed less dress clothes and more casual clothes. For dinner, I could have easily gotten away with 2 pairs of dress pants and 3 mix and match tops ' we ate dinner 4 out of 7 nights in the main dining room. We chose Select Dining and made reservations every morning based on our activities for the day; it was tough to make dining reservations on the phone but you could make reservations at Guest Relations. The ship was full, ~2800 passengers but only seemed crowded in the Oceanview Caf' and occasionally when reboarding after port. You must go through security to reboard the ship. Ports/Excursions: Celebrity Excursion employees were always handy to direct you and answer any questions. Tracy Arm Fjord - Tracy Arm Fjord and the Sawyer Glacier were the highlights of our trip. The best advice I was given regarding this Alaskan cruise ' set a clock and be on deck early to get a good spot for the spectacular views at Tracy Arm. We got to the top deck by 6:15 am. This was the coldest part of our cruise ' you will need a jacket, scarf and gloves if you plan to stay outside. Temp was in the 30's if you stayed on the top deck. We did not mind the cold, all other days were very mild so it made us truly feel like we were in Alaska. You could also view the scenery from the observation lounge, the solarium or a window seat at the Oceanview Caf', but we wanted to be outside for this part of the trip. Disembarkation: Celebrity requested that all passengers disembark by 9:30 am and breakfast was served until 8:30 am. Celebrity's luggage valet worked great ($20 per person) and after setting our checked luggage outside room at 11 pm the last night on the ship ' we were happy to see our luggage arrive safely at baggage claim at our home airport. Because we used luggage valet, we were able to disembark at our leisure. We rolled our carryon luggage off the ship around 8:15, found a Shuttle Express employee and waited less than 10 minutes for our ride back to the airport which took about 30 minutes. If you did not choose luggage valet, you were grouped by departure time and assigned to wait in specific area of the ship and then released in groups. You then located your luggage in an assigned section in large warehouse area at Pier 91 ' this process seemed to be organized, but the area was very crowded. Did not really experience rough seas, but did feel the motion, when in the main dining room since it was aft of the ship. We determined that our forward cabin was a good choice. We did take less drowsy dramamine on sea days and when we were doing water excursions. Although definitely not the cheapest cruise we could have taken we were very happy with the Celebrity Solstice and would highly recommend this cruise. It is hard to imagine that any other area of the country can rival the scenery and wildlife in Alaska.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I have been on 30 cruises over the past 35 years and believe Celebrity to be best of the Major Lines. I have yet to sail on the "Top" Lines (Regent Seven Seas, Silversea etc) but sailing Celebrity has been just fine. The ... Read More
I have been on 30 cruises over the past 35 years and believe Celebrity to be best of the Major Lines. I have yet to sail on the "Top" Lines (Regent Seven Seas, Silversea etc) but sailing Celebrity has been just fine. The annoucement that the Solstice would be doing Alaska in 2013 sounded great to me. I have been to Alaska many times, on many ships. I cannot say enough of how lovely she is. The whole ship just done right. The service great, food good to great and our suite beyond wonderful. Thank you Brij, our Butler who took complete care of us and 9 other suites!! The weather in Ketchikan- 80 and sunny! My last trip to Alaska on the Infinity in 2006 we had the same beautiful weather. Don't miss the Dungeness Crab tour. My one disappointment was the timing of sailing through Tracy Arm so very early. I have always sailed from Vancouver enjoying going thru the Queen Charlotte Islands, but this cruise was out of Seattle and we had one day up at sea and one day back at sea. No Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord or Glacier Bay; the real way to see many glaciers. But I want to be on the Solstice and so glad we chose this. Thank you again Celebrity. Just receieved the Cruise Travel with a great article on the Reflection and how highly they rate it. Looks like Europe/Mediterranean is calling us! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I will start by saying I usually choose cruises by the itinerary. I have tried to get my husband of 30 years to take me to Alaska many times and gave up. I was very surprised when my husband took me on this cruise for our 30th. More about ... Read More
I will start by saying I usually choose cruises by the itinerary. I have tried to get my husband of 30 years to take me to Alaska many times and gave up. I was very surprised when my husband took me on this cruise for our 30th. More about us,we are down to earth fun baby boomers who are not fussy. We make the most of our free time. We arrived and the ship was beautiful. I loved the comfort of the surroundings the ship seemed to invite us. We were very happy with our room. I found the storage great,the shower roomy,and the bed was the most comfortable I have been on at sea. The balcony seemed very large. Prior to embarking we had purchased the 5 specialty dining package, the premium drink package,and all of our excursions in advance. We ate in all of the specialty arena's my favorite being the Tuscany Grill. I have to say although the food and service was delightful ,I enjoyed the MDR as much and that is a very positive testament! The premium drink package I found issues with. At breakfast I like coke,and espresso. Unfortunately in the buffet areas you have to get your own drinks.You will see lots of waiters but other than occasionally cleaning a table they will avoid you at all costs. So off to the bar to wait in line with everyone else that doesn't get drink service in the buffet area's and I order and I am told sorry Ma"m only one drink per person?? Well annoyed I would daily visit and add another drink to the list,funny,same reaction. I would like to point out however all other waiters in the MDR and specialty were wonderful! My husband and I would visit the lively bartenders by the Martini bar for the entertainment the bartenders provided and great vibe they were the best. I did not get nice treatment in the bar in front of the specialty dining. The lounge was gorgeous and inviting. Every time I would get ignored and I would square off with the bartender. Relenting he would take my drink order and then forget about it. I know his problem was that I like specialty drinks and most of them he would have to call to get an ingredient list,lol. I only mention this person because every single other person on this cruise went above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel we were special, we spent our money wisely, and that we would like to keep our money with this cruise line! We loved the entertainment! Brent told us about bears,whales, and sea lions and it was so entertaining! Miss Amanda lectured on our ports and was a huge hit! I loved the comedy acts and wish there were more! The nightly shows we nice the dancers could actually sing, and the circus show was a huge hit as was the other entertainers. We spent time in the Casino. People do win there ! My husband hit seven hundred twice and I won almost thirteen hundred. We were not the only lucky people we saw people winning everywhere. Also we are not hard core gamblers. Alaska was exceptional. I was in specialty dining and the views were wonderful there and tears flooded my eye's. I am by no means an emotional person. However the beauty was so spiritual and took precedence over everything. No one can explain what needs to be seen to believe. If you have even considered Alaska GO! We booked all of our excursions through Celebrity. In Skagway a floatplane magnificent and worth every penny! In Juneau we did the whale watching cruise again we got our moneys worth and then some, as well as our other tours . I will say tendering was a pain in Juneau and the only time I felt there was a crowd on board. The officers and cruise director were hands on and so friendly. There are also many behind the scenes managers who pushed their crew giving us that extra attention. We enjoyed this cruise so much we took advantage of the European cruise we have been eye balling for May.I have to admit I will find it hard to cruise on another line now!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was my 4th cruise, but 1st ot Alaska and my husbands first cruise. We arrived in Seattle and stayed at the Olympic Fairmont. Nice! We arrived at the ship at 11 am and were at the bar at the back of the ship by 11:30 having a drink! ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise, but 1st ot Alaska and my husbands first cruise. We arrived in Seattle and stayed at the Olympic Fairmont. Nice! We arrived at the ship at 11 am and were at the bar at the back of the ship by 11:30 having a drink! After that we checked out the buffet for lunch and were in our room on the Concierge deck nine by 1:30. We stayed in a room on the very back of the boot. Amazing, will do that every time. Went to bed every night with the door wide open listening to the sounds of the water. Dining room was good and sat next to a lovely couple from England, who were a lot older than us but were very interesting and fun! First stop was Ketchikan, it was raining but didn't stop us from walking around. Later on the boat we checked out the hot tub and stayed there until the boat was going to leave. Saw the illfated Celebrity Millenium just sitting out in the water about an hour or so from Ketchikan. Figured something was wrong because they weren't moving. Next stop was Juneau. Went on a helicopter to glacier excursion. Definetely a highlight and was glad we spent the extra money to get out and walk on the glacier. Amazing! Skagway was the bus/train tour. Saw some beautiful country. We are from Canada (Toronto area) and didn't realize that BC/Yukon was so beautfiul. Victoria was nice. Met family and went on a walking tour. Overall the cruise ship is beautiful, the food was good. Loved Cafe al bacio for cappacino's! Won a little bit of money in the casino. Our room stewart was friendly and kept the room spotless. Had room service the morning of Tracey Fjord and it came exactly on time and was hot . Being at the back of the ship gave us the best view when we reached Sawyer glacier that morning. We went up top for a bit and there was so many people trying to get to the rail to take pictures that we went back to our deck and realized that it was the best place to be. I thought this would be a once in a lifetime cruise. But I want to go back and experience other excursions. Also, we are both in our forties and did not feel we were the youngest. The cruise ages varied so don't think that just the old people go on these cruises. It is not true. I would like to return in the next 4 or 5 years again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Cabin 9121 has the bed by the sliding glass door.... Very quiet area - the hallway dead ends to crew area we never noticed any noise from neighbors to either side or above..... We liked eating breakfast and lunch in the Aqua Spa Cafe in ... Read More
Cabin 9121 has the bed by the sliding glass door.... Very quiet area - the hallway dead ends to crew area we never noticed any noise from neighbors to either side or above..... We liked eating breakfast and lunch in the Aqua Spa Cafe in the solarium.... great healthy breakfast with lots off fruits etc. We did eat in the Oceanview Cafe for lunch a couple times - great food selections, but kind of a scramble to get a table during busy times. Ate in the Main DR for dinner most nights. We ordered breakfast room service once and decided that it was easier to go out for breakfast..... we did have coffee and juice delivered to the room every morning though to get us started. We enjoyed sitting out on the balcony watching the scenery and whale watching. We also liked the views from the front of Deck 15. We boarded the ship at about 2:30ish (after the rush) for the 5:00 departure..... the lines for security and check in were very short and we were in our cabin probably 20 minutes or so after arriving at the terminal. We elected to be in one of the last groups to disembark so we had a relaxing breakfast and left the ship around 9:30a - our luggage was right there waiting for us, we cleared customs and were out of the terminal in less than 20 minutes - no lines no hassel! Loved the Taquan Air seaplane journey to the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan - a must do! Also enjoyed the river rafting trip on the Mendenhall River in Juneau. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My family, eight in all, ranging from 83 to 16, had an amazing time together sailing from Vancouver to Seward. I'd like to point out that my mother-in-law has difficulty walking for very long due to osteoporosis. We rented, much to ... Read More
My family, eight in all, ranging from 83 to 16, had an amazing time together sailing from Vancouver to Seward. I'd like to point out that my mother-in-law has difficulty walking for very long due to osteoporosis. We rented, much to her dismay, a walker with wheels, brakes and a seat. This saved the trip. She grew to love it very quickly, and decided to buy it upon her return home. This walker gave her a great deal of independence on the ship, and it allowed her to join us in ports and on excursions. There's a lot of walking and waiting in line on a cruise. We also got her a cabin adjoining ours which made life a whole lot simpler for all of us. Embarkation: Getting on the ship was a piece of cake but we were prepared. There was a little confusion checking in my step-daughter who was in a cabin with her cousins but that was quickly cleared up. Dining: The main dining room food is quite good and the buffet on Deck 10 was average. Upon reading recent reviews, a few days prior to our cruise I switched us from open dining to an 8:30 reservation. This was a really good decision. We had wonderful service and my elderly mother-in-law really appreciated knowing what time to expect dinner each night. It also gave everybody time to enjoy their day without rushing for a 6pm dinner time. It left time for exploration, reading, naps, etc. Entertainment: We went to a show each night. The ship's performers got better and better. I was impressed from the start but my hard-to-please New Yorker mother-in-law took some time to warm up. In the end, she loved it. None of us enjoyed the Horizons, a Motown act that the ship brought on board for a couple of shows. The juggler was fantastic--and really funny, too. Ports: To be expected, the ports have been overtaken by the cruise industry. I knew this would be the case but I was still disappointed. The only way to really get a feel for a particular town is to do an excursion that gets you out of the port. In Ketchikan we had pre-arranged (on our own) a seaplane ride through the Misty Fjords with Alaska Seaplane Tours. This was an exceptional experience. Our pilot, Mike, gave us a 1 1/2 hour thrill through the fjords. Alaska Seaplane Tours is one of the few outfitters with a permit to land on the lakes within the park. Incredible! We got out of the plane on a remote late and hung out on the pontoons for a bit. You might find a less expensive seaplane tour but I'm not convinced that a budget plane ride is a good idea. We had a nice lunch at the Alaska Fish Co. right at the ship's dock. Icy Straight/Hoonah was an interesting port. We didn't dock, just tendered, and took the life boats to shore. The my stepdaughter and her cousins (16-22) had a zip line ride booked (you can only book via the cruise line). While we were there, a 92 year old woman rode the zip! Impressive, and what a thrill. My husband and I walked around the shops and nature trails near the Icy Straight buildings. We then decided to walk the 1.5 miles into Hoonah. This is a nice walk on a paved sidewalk. There wasn't much going on in town but it felt more like an Alaskan town. It's definitely a poor town, and I was disgusted to find fellow cruise passengers posing for pictures in front of the homes of locals. Grab some ribs and an Alaska Summer Ale at the Landing Dock back at Icy Straight. Also, look for the kitty that lives in the cannery building. We had a rough ride back to the ship because the wind picked up to something close to gale force. Juneau: This was our only rainy day on the cruise which was perfect for our whale watch. We booked directly through Orca Enterprises and were lucky enough to have Captain Larry and Kelly as our guides. They did not disappoint, and neither did the whales. The shuttle bus that took us to Auke Bay for the watch was a great way to see beyond downtown Juneau. He pointed out the sites along the way--the Capitol building, Governor's mansion, Mendenhall Glacier, etc. We had lunch at the very tourist-oriented Twisted Fish at the ship's dock. Although a little pricey, the food, service and décor were great. I loved the halibut tacos...and another Alaska Summer Ale (or 2). After lunch. we got my mother-in-law back on the ship so we could explore the "real" Juneau. Skagway: This is a neat little town but it is totally overrun with cruisers. With a population of less than 1,000, the place is turned upside-down when six cruise ships are in port at the same time. This was disappointing because we skipped checking out the town after our excursion--To The Summit. This is a narrated bus tour to the top of the Klondike Highway. Rayme, our guide, provided some great information about the town and the area. We booked last-minute through the cruise line. We were disappointed to see how many people did not tip the guide at the end. This was pretty typical for all excursions. Lesson learned about following reviews too closely: I had read in a review that the railroad excursion was a waste of time. We regretted not booking it once we were there but it was too late. Whatever you do, keep in mind that the 8:30 train returns at lunchtime, bringing thousands of passengers that will want lunch. The lines for restaurants were out the door. We skipped it and went onto the ship. Hubbard Glacier: This was one of the top five most amazing experiences of my life. We had perfect weather for the trip into Yakutat Bay to the Hubbard Glacier. Be up early for this so you can be on deck for the approach. Dirk Younkerman, the ship's naturalist, was an invaluable resource throughout the week. I would have paid to have him at our dinner table each night because he was so interesting. Seward: We did not have time to check out Seward since we had to catch our transfer to Anchorage right away for a 1:45 flight. The harbor is breathtaking, and I am sure the town is worth seeing. The drive to Anchorage is incredible. I was completely exhausted but I forced myself to stay awake so I could take in the scenery. Stateroom: My husband and I had a veranda cabin (9009) adjoining my MIL's veranda cabin (9005). A balcony is worth the extra money on an Alaska cruise, especially if you enjoy getting away from the crowd. I was on ours a lot. As for the room, I loved ours. Yes, they're small, but I would expect that on a ship. That said, we had all the space we needed, even when other family members would stop by for a visit. Fitness Center/Spa: I enjoyed the gym later in the day as it was packed in the morning. A really good time to go is when the ship is in port. My husband got a great deep tissue massage and my MIL enjoyed a hair appointment. All in all, this was a wonderful family trip. If we cruise again, we will choose Celebrity.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We are a family group of 14 ranging in age from 15 to 77. None of us had sailed with Celebrity before, but Im pretty sure many of us will again. All but one of us had cruised before; most of us have been on 10 to 18 prior cruises, so ... Read More
We are a family group of 14 ranging in age from 15 to 77. None of us had sailed with Celebrity before, but Im pretty sure many of us will again. All but one of us had cruised before; most of us have been on 10 to 18 prior cruises, so fairly experienced but certainly not experts. Between us all we have sailed with Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, Carnival, and Sitmar. On this voyage we did a back to back trip sailing out of Vancouver to Seward and then back. Each of us loved this trip! The itinerary, the ship, the crew, the food, the excursions, were all really, really good. Of course, there was the random meal that wasnt a favorite and the occasional crew member that rubbed someone the wrong way. Some excursions were better than others. As a whole though, it really was an outstanding trip. Because this was a back to back we had the opportunity to visit each port (except Seward on turnaround day) twice. Hubbard Glacier day was very cold one week, but we got within a mile and half of the glacier. We could see and hear the glacier calving, which is a marvel. It was overcast and drizzly, so we couldnt see the surrounding mountains; didnt even know they were there in fact. The next week it was sunny and warm. We could only get to about six miles from the glacier and couldnt see or hear calving this time. We could see all of the mountains and the grandeur of the spot better than the week before. Im not sure which I prefer, once we saw it up close and personal but couldnt see the big picture, the next week we saw all of the surroundings, but couldnt get right up next to it. Both were incredible. Two of our group disembarked in Seward and took the train to Anchorage. The other twelve of us were fortunate enough to get back on the ship for another week of cruising. The back to back process was very smooth. Ten of us were kayaking and we just got off like you would in any port. They had given us a transit pass that allowed us to bypass the check in process when we returned to the ship. We had a special line to go through where they just issued us another sea pass card. Two of our group had stayed on the ship. They were asked to meet in one of the conference rooms with all of the other back to back guests and were ushered down to have another sea pass card issued to them. Super easy and very smooth either way you do it. The Millennium is a lovely ship. Shes showing her age a little, but is still beautiful. We had aft cabins on both decks seven and nine. The aft cabins on nine were very noisy because of the bar area right above them. The cabins on 7 aft were wonderful. All of the aft cabins have enormous balconies and being aft they are mostly protected from the wind. Some have questioned if there is soot, but we never saw any. We had two lounge chairs, four outdoor chairs, one larger dining height table and one small occasional table on our balcony. The rooms themselves are fairly typical for many cruise ships; small but comfortable enough. One thing I noticed and we all agreed was that it rarely felt crowded on the ship. Embarkation day in the buffet, debarkation day in the buffet, a couple of times as we waited for the theater to open were about the only times it felt crowded. Go to Bistro on 5 on embarkation day for a quiet spot out of the crowds. Its always easy to find a nice quiet spot to sit and have a drink or to visit. I was impressed by the overall intimate feel of the ship. Since we were a large group and wanted to eat together each night we had early seating in the Metropolitan dining room. The first week we were 14 people and were at two neighboring tables. We switched back and forth between the two often so that we could all vary who we were eating with. The second week we had gone to 12 people so we were moved to a large table that could seat all of us. Most of the food and the presentation were very good. We found a few things we didnt care for, but asking for another choice was always accommodated. The bar staff, sommelier, and maitre d were attentive and prompt. The foods on the buffet were pretty hit and miss. Sometimes there were jewels to be found, other times not so much. The pasta station where you can create your own pasta dish, the sandwich station where theyd build a sandwich to your specs, the omelet station, etc. were always very good, but often had long lines. The flow of the buffet seems awkward. I do appreciate that its not all one long line, but smaller stations. It just seemed to be hard to navigate. Id usually walk the entire thing before picking up a plate to decide where I wanted to go. That was fine for me, but my mom cant walk long distances and it was difficult for her. Room service offered a good variety, but quality was spotty. We also ate at the Bistro on 5 a few times, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The $5 upcharge was well worth the quieter, intimate atmosphere. The crepes and Paninis were wonderful. We did not try any of the other additional charge restaurants, so I cannot comment on them. Our two 15 year old girls did some of the activities in the X Club and enjoyed them. There were probably 25 teens onboard each week. I saw quite a few younger kids out on scavenger hunts and doing a talent show. I talked to one couple that said their child was enjoying it so much they had a hard time getting him to leave. I was worried our 3 teens would be bored without a rock wall, water slides, etc., but they werent. They had a great time and say this is their favorite cruise so far! The average age onboard seemed to skew younger than I had expected. Id guess the average age was mid-50s with many people both older and younger. It was a really good mix. We enjoyed the Martini Bar on many evenings as we listened to music in the Grand Foyer. It can get busy right before mealtimes, so if you want a seat, get there early. The bartenders put on a great show! We loved Michaels Club and most evening would find us there listening to music. We went up to Cosmos a few times for shows and its a lovely bar, but didn't have the intimate feel some of the others do. It is a great place for scenic cruising though! We also enjoyed the Ocean Bar. Its a great spot to sit while the ship is in port, you can watch the goings on in the harbor and on the pier. Cafe Al Bacio was also a favorite spot. Order iced tea sometime, the presentation is lovely! The few things we were not impressed with included the Improv Group. We gave them about five chances over the two weeks and they would be funny for a little bit then drift off into the odd or macabre. There was one skit they did about kidnapping and killing children. Really! One of the room stewards of the four that we had wasnt the best. The other three were very good, though. The one that wasnt great seemed to just be distant and aloof. He never did bring ice to a room that had asked him to, he often forgot to bring some of the paperwork that room needed. Fortunately, with all of us doing the same thing wed soon discover that something was missing and could rectify it. While disembarking they have you go down to either a conference room or Michaels to wait while for your number to be called. There was one couple in our color group that did not appear so we all waited and waited while they were repeatedly paged. Not a big deal, but those conference rooms get hot and stuffy with 50+ people crammed into them. Overall, we loved this vacation, the destination, and this ship and would do it again in a heartbeat.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
First off, I'm shocked at how many people were so very negative regarding Celebrity here on Cruise Critic. Each boat is different, as is each cruise line. Nobody should base a single experience on a cruise as their measure for an ... Read More
First off, I'm shocked at how many people were so very negative regarding Celebrity here on Cruise Critic. Each boat is different, as is each cruise line. Nobody should base a single experience on a cruise as their measure for an entire cruise line. That being said, I agree that compared to our first experience with Celebrity on the Summit, the Millennium seemed "tired". I had no qualms about sailing on an older ship, as it was advertised as having received "renovations" in 2012. However, there were definitely areas that looked old/worn. Specifics I noticed were mostly exterior handrails that had lost their finish, along with ones that had obviously been removed for repair, replaced with temporary steel supports that were rusty and truly eye-sores. However, it must be very difficult to keep a ship both in excellent repair AND in service to meet customer demand. Crew was obviously working very hard to see to passenger needs. Our embarkation went smoothly but was slower than some ports in which we've traveled. After a quick lunch in the OceanView Cafe, our rooms were ready. We were in Aqua Class, and we had Aft cabins. Our only disappointment was that one of the only two smoking areas on the entire ship happened to be right under our balconies. People smoked cigars, cigarettes, etc. down there night and day. When the ship was in motion, it wasn't so bad, but in port, it was terrible. This was most unfortunate for my cousin, who is allergic to smoking. I look forward to the day when smoking will be completely BANNED on cruise ships! Our balconies were otherwise very spacious and the chairs are most comfortable for reading. The rooms are also quite sound-proof. There was an outdoor lounge right under us, and I was concerned about the noise level at first. It turned out to be no issue. Strangely, I ran into a situation that occurred on my last Celebrity cruise in the pool area. Before sailing out of Vancouver, it was warm enough to swim. I did laps in the adult pool. It's posted there that no children should be in the pool without the supervision of an adult. As on the Summit last Christmas, a girl hopped in the pool and then began splashing me on purpose! I wound up leaving, really ticked off at the child's rude behavior, even after I asked her to stop. No parent in sight. I spoke with the pool steward who barely understood English. I know he had no clue what I was trying to say, but I certainly wish Celebrity would do a better job of upholding their policies that are in print. They'd be in serious trouble had the child injured herself or drowned, as the pool was well over 5 ft. deep in the shallow end. Being in Aqua Class, we had the privilege of eating in Blu. However, on the first night of the cruise, there was an excellent promotional for Aqua Class guests to eat in one of the specialty restaurants, 2 for 1. We tried the elegant Olympic Restaurant. It was FABULOUS!!! The staff was amazing in there and each presentation of courses was choreographed so that wait staff swooped in together to present one's plate. I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing food experiences I've ever had in my life. My husband and I had the Chateaubriand for Two. If you cruise Celebrity, be sure to try the Olympic or its counterpart on other ships. The rest of the time, we ate in Blu, which was also wonderful. The staff there got to know us, how we liked things, and everyone was most friendly. On our last sea day, there was a brunch served in the main dining room. We went and it was incredible! The food was excellent again, and the different presentations, ice sculptures, and carved centerpiece flowers were terrific. I went around with my camera, just photographed it all! In Blu, I had halibut one night and it was superb. Also, one evening, they served macadamia nut encrusted scallops. Absolutely delicious. During the brunch, the waffles were especially good... made to order. I read a review where one couple only ate in Blu once, then dined in the Cafe the rest of the time. They complained about the food! That's their own fault I think, for not going to Blu nightly or to a specialty restaurant. Anyone can do a buffet anytime. I do enjoy a workout, and I will agree that the exercise room was very understaffed. I wanted assistance with equipment, and nobody was available to give it. Only one guy was working and he was teaching a class. Later, after working out, I was hoping to use a Therapy Ball for core training. NCL has them for people to use. I spoke with one of the trainers, who was rather short with me. That was absolutely the ONLY time on the cruise when I was treated rudely. They had no therapy balls, either. On the first day of the cruise, the AquaSpa did some promotional drawings, they were disappointing... a few single exercise classes and a man's barbering. I did have my first collagen facial on board. It was FANTASTIC! The girl who did it was awesome, and she didn't push products at me afterwards, like on NCL. She really took her time on me, doing a top-notch job. I'd definitely do that treatment, again! Another review complained that Celebrity doesn't have as many on-board activities. This is true. However, Celebrity caters to a different sort of passenger. Younger families with multiple kids would probably be better served on an NCL or Carnival ship. On e thing I really like about Celebrity is that they cater more towards adults who like touches of culture. My cousin, traveling with us was a first-time cruiser. He really wanted to see the Bridge, and Celebrity graciously saw to it that he go to go up there. I was really pleased with how Celebrity handled that. It was one of the highlights of his trip! We ordered room service once early in the AM. Our room steward had it there in plenty of time for us to enjoy it prior to shore excursions. Compared to the Summit, I didn't enjoy the fruit in my Aqua Class room OR the canapes as much. We had canapes each afternoon, but they were always savory, with no choc. covered strawberries, cookies, etc. like on the Summit. Our "fruit basket" consisted of three apples on a long, rectangular plate. Each was a Granny Smith, which are too tart for me. I missed the Summit's generous choices! BINGO was played twice on board. There was a naturalist, and he did several presentations, but those turneed out to be rather commercial advertisement for ports, etc. However, his coverage on Hubbard Glacier was excellent. I will definitely saill on Celebrity again. The food is far superior to that of other cruise on which I've been. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Maybe the difference between our wonderful experience and the previous posters' negative experiences was that we began our cruise in Seward and cruised to Vancouver. From the embarkation through the entire cruise, we had nothing but a ... Read More
Maybe the difference between our wonderful experience and the previous posters' negative experiences was that we began our cruise in Seward and cruised to Vancouver. From the embarkation through the entire cruise, we had nothing but a wonderful experience. There were 9 of us, including 3 children, and a grandmother who injured herself on the land portion and required a wheelchair. Celebrity was outstanding in every respect concerning both the wheelchair and the children. Indeed, I do not think that any company could have been kinder, more thoughtful, or more helpful. Celebrity did everything possible to ensure that my mother was able to enjoy herself despite her injury. And the children absolutely loved every moment. The staff, both in the kids' club and elsewhere on the ship, were so nice and friendly to the kids. Our cabin steward, Charlie, even brought the kids a special treat (chocolate covered apples) one day, just because. He was truly a gem. We ate dinner every night in the Metropolitan, the main dining room, and breakfast there several mornings as well. The food was always good, and some times excellent. When we had something we did not care for (a smoked tomato soup), they quickly replaced it with something else. They took all sorts of special requests ("I'll have the spinach ravioli with cream sauce, but can I have it with tomato sauce and no spinach, but sauteed mushrooms instead?") with grace and never once told us no. We did the Select Dining, and rarely had the same servers, so this fabulous service went throughout the dining room. We have special kudos to Sasha, one of the Sommeliers, as well as Ana and the Australian Head Server. They were so considerate and helpful. The bartending staff was also extremely good; they worked well under pressure, and were accommodating. The room was as expected -- small but efficient. It was tight with 4 people who had overpacked, but we had room for everything. My mother and sister were even able to fit the folded wheelchair in their cabin. The shows were high quality, although I do not particularly like the "review" style shows that are prevalent on cruise lines. The performers were all very talented. We liked all of the Celebrity Life programs we attended, particularly the Captain's talk on navigation. It was fascinating. If you asked me to think of any negative, the only thing I can think of is that the gym did not have a wide variety of free weights, particularly in the 2-15 lb. range, and the yoga mats all need to be replaced. I also did not think that the gym staff was attentive enough; they should have been monitoring the equipment more and asking if people needed assistance. I don't know if anyone did need assistance, but I believe that a high-end gym should have staff checking in with the guests. In all, I cannot understand why anyone would have been disappointed with their experience on Millennium. Ours was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Cabin 8131 on the July 5 Sailing - Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom Veranda. Family of four. First time on Celebrity. 4th time to Alaska (twice on HA, once on RC). Some things that aren't detailed in this review were average in our ... Read More
Cabin 8131 on the July 5 Sailing - Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom Veranda. Family of four. First time on Celebrity. 4th time to Alaska (twice on HA, once on RC). Some things that aren't detailed in this review were average in our experience (embarkation, disembarkation, pool area). I will focus only on the highlights and the one unfortunate possible deal-breaker lowlight. First, the highlights: Loved the spacious cabin with very modern styling - including the bathroom. But the 3rd and 4th beds were a foam mattress on a sofa and a trundle bed which were not that comfortable. The main bed had a memory foam top which was ok but we still prefer the beds (linen, mattress and pillows) on HA. Veranda was great with comfy deck chairs and a small table. We love the layout of this ship except that there are no staircases/elevators at the hallway ends - only towards the middle. Lawn, AquaSpa, Grand Foyer and Theater were outstanding areas. Sky Observation Lounge, Grand Epernay and Library were not well thought out (better on HA Westerdam). Crew were among the best we have come across. Room steward (Mario), Main Dining Waiters (Rogelio and Baliram) and other staff (Kadek and Jayden to mention two) were very friendly and helpful. We always look forward to the entertainment and activities on-board - and as mentioned by other reviewers, Brent Nixon was captivating with his presentations on whales, bears, etc. For us, the production shows, particularly Solstice The Show, were remarkable. The 60's Theme Show and 70's Theme Show were fun. Comedy and Magic shows were ok but not must-sees. I thoroughly enjoyed the watercolor art class with Amy; get to the first class early to get a good seat and a free kit! Among the weak areas, only one is worth mentioning because it could be a deal breaker for some. To start on a high note, the buffet dining was pretty good. Breakfast options were as good as a 3-star breakfast-inclusive hotel (think Embassy Suites) - did enjoy the corn beef hash and eggs benedict. What's with the cheap yogurt? As with RC, the Indian cuisine was outstanding (except for the roti). Ice cream was excellent with No Sugar Added and Low Fat options available. Except for the lack of daily change in the offerings, the buffet dining was the place to get your food (surprise!?). Another high note is that dining service and ambiance in the Grand Epernay, Murano and Silk Harvest were great and as good as we have experienced on RC and HA; however, the food was consistently off-mark with expectations set much higher than was delivered. Most appetizer and main course dishes were just not good and the proteins (eg, lobster, steak, and veal chop) were especially off. My palate was disappointed over and over again. Just for reference, we ate at Elliots and the Nordstrom Grill pre-cruise in Seattle and I consider those "A" places. This ship's food was C- overall in comparison. We are glad we used the Luggage Valet Service which let us choose when to disembark. In sum, the Celebrity Solstice has several outstanding qualities that make for a great cruise experience, but you may find your eating experience forgettable.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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