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Sail Date: June 2003
Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ... Read More
Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ships in Alaska all summer, so I decided that I just had to try my own wares. Everything I have heard about Celebrity was good, and I had done a ship inspection of Millennium in Ft. Lauderdale in April, so I was pretty sure of what to expect. I did want a suite, and was pleased to be able to pay to upgrade immediately on boarding to Sky Suite 6120. I couldn't talk my teens into the Celebrity Suite a few doors down which was also available, as they really wanted a balcony. I told some very nice folks about the Celebrity suite though, and they enjoyed it greatly. First thing, the butler, Jonathan was wonderful. He was sweet and non-intrusive, but managed to show up every time I needed him or Julio, the cabin steward, even when it was something as mundane as helping my son knot his tie correctly. The suite was not huge, but perfectly adequate for three adults, including a lanky 6 foot tall teen-aged boy and had a lovely deep bath-tub, plenty of storage and room for three deck chairs and a small table on the lanai. There was a bowl of fresh fruit and a full ice-bucket with a nice bottle of champagne waiting for us on the table. The fruit was replenished daily by Jonathan, along with all sorts of little goodies throughout the day. We really enjoyed the breakfast service in our suite, and used it every day of our cruise. Jonathan would quietly slip my coffee tray inside the door at 6, without waking the my teens, then arrive brightly with a 2 course serving of breakfast complete with white linen and flowers. In the afternoon, he would bring me my cup of tea and little cakes for everyone to enjoy on the balcony. Before dinner he would show up with canapes. While we were at dinner, he would turn down the wonderful deep feather beds, leave good-night cards and Italian chocolates on the pillows and lay out the special body pillow I ordered from the pillow concierge. He looked great in his tails, but I could easily imagine him rocking out with my son in a band---it turned out that he also played electric guitar, and he and my son spent time talking shop. Right around the corner was "Notes" the music library, where my son set up shop with his electric guitar and headphones, and spent much of the week. I used it quite a bit too, and we found that our taste for rock, alternative and metal was satisfied by the selections. We were able to save our playlists all week. I often got my headphones and settled down to listen before dressing for dinner. Dinner was just plain fun. Our fun-loving waiter Nyoman was from Bali, and loved to do magic tricks and challenge his tables to puzzles. We often stayed long after everyone else had left to watch Nyoman's tricks and listen to his stories of home. Alex, his young assistant waiter was from Latin America, and my client's daughter (who spoke fluent Spanish) and my daughter flirted shamelessly with him to everyone's giggles (and his blushes). The food was very good, varied and fresh. The best food we had on board, however, was in the specialty restaurant, the Normandie. It was well worth the surcharge. The meal took over three hours, and we were treated royally by a well-trained team of waiters. The spa was another high point of the trip for me. I discovered the Turkish gardens the first day, and bought a trip-long pass for myself and my daughter. We both used it at least once, sometimes twice each day. I especially liked the floral scented turkish bath and peppermint scented showers. We all enjoyed the thalassotherapy pool, and I discovered that I could have a light meal nearby...cold soup and fruit and vegie plates. One of the most outstanding things that I noticed was the efforts of every single staff member, from the guy I startled while climbing out of the engine casing to the officer grabbing a quick bite at the sushi bar to greet me with a smile and an enquiry as to how I was enjoying the cruise. Everyone seemed delighted to share stories of home and showed and honest interest in my children and myself. It really made us feel at home and among friends during our entire trip. The single sour note on the entire trip had nothing to do with Summit itself. I had signed us up for a number of shore excursions, and really had an uneven experience. The rock-climbing in Skagway, Seaplane flight in Ketchikan and sportfishing in Juneau were excellent. Otherwise the shore excursions varied from hokey to downright awful. We could have enjoyed, for instance, the white-water rafting in Valdez if not for the fact that the protective gear they gave us to wear stank so horribly of body odor that it was apparent that it had not been washed in recent memory. All of our clothes, including our jackets reeked afterwards, and could not be worn for the rest of the trip. The driver and guide was informative but unfriendly and on occasion downright rude, which surprised me as he was a local high school teacher. We do not blame this on Celebrity of course, but I do think they should keep tabs on the companies they book tours with. The only unpleasant part of the cruise was, predictably, leaving the warm cocoon of the ship. The concierge and guest relations had little information about services in Seward, and I felt let down, as no help was offered to help us get the information we needed. We were leaving on the evening train, and needed information on where we could leave our luggage. We were given an address which we were told was a place to pay to store the bags---it turned out that the train officials were glad to store our luggage free of charge, as well as keep our hand-carried items locked up in the office so we could get to them throughout the day. When we assembled in the theater to await our group's call to leave, CNN was playing loudly on the screen with scenes of the war and the stock market quotes I had not looked at all week. What a rough way to leave our little fantasy world! I would have much preferred them to show the week's ship video, leaving us with happy memories of our trip. My daughter commented that perhaps someone should tell them to practice "gentle release", just as a hand-fed wild animal is allowed to leave it's comfortable cage a little at a time. Those welcoming glasses of champagne on boarding sure would have helped my mood on leaving as well! All in all, not only do we give Summit and Celebrity high marks, we are already planning our next cruise on the Summit when she is in our home waters in May of next year. I told my kids that when I get old, they needn't put me in home, just set me up in my suite on the Summit, and I'll sail happily into the sunset! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the ... Read More
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the highlight before boarding the Infinity. This was our first cruise and the first time I had ever been on a boat, small or large and I was very apprehensive, armed with seasick pills and all the nerve I could muster, we boarded to be greeted by Champagne, Mimosa, or Orange Juice and a very friendly person who took us to our Sky Suite, via the beautiful glass elevator. Our suite greeted us with a bottle of Champagne, Fresh Fruit, and a beautiful room with a large veranda, comfortable deck chairs and the privacy and peace we were looking for. The suite comes with a butler, who made himself very scarce. In fact the only negative I have about the trip was the butler who was very lazy and hard to find. The rest of the crew made you feel like it was their personal goal in life to make you happy. I cannot say enough about our waiter Mert, and his assistant Vittala. They made every dining experience pure pleasure. These young men were professional and pleasant and absolutely nothing was too much for them to do. One night I couldn't eat another mouthful when we came to dinner, and I did not order an entrEe, Mert said "you must eat something, I will get you what ever you want". My comment was to him thank you, but tell me, do you get a commission if we eat". We both laughed. The entertainment, the dancers and singers, were as professional as some New York show I have seen and very enjoyable. The variety acts were good, but I don't care much for jugglers or magicians but I realize they have to have something for everyone. We only attended one of the late night parties as we took shore excursions at every port and enjoyed them tremendously, except perhaps were a little disappointed in the Totem Pole excursion, it really wasn't too interesting. But the shopping in town was fun. We loved the art auction and purchased three painting and two auctions. It was fun with the photographer taking all the pic's around the ship, they were a little too costly but we bought all of them including the video, (which isn't very professional, but a nice remembrance) perhaps they could change the music on the Alaska video it sounds very much like the X rated music. The last night was a sad one as we hated for the cruise, our new friends, the wonderful crew and just the whole experience to end. We hope to take another Infinity cruise next year and I think once you are on the best boat it will be a hard act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the ... Read More
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the highlight before boarding the Infinity. This was our first cruise and the first time I had ever been on a boat, small or large and I was very apprehensive, armed with seasick pills and all the nerve I could muster, we boarded to be greeted by Champagne, Mimosa, or Orange Juice and a very friendly person who took us to our Sky Suite, via the beautiful glass elevator. Our suite greeted us with a bottle of Champagne, Fresh Fruit, and a beautiful room with a large veranda, comfortable deck chairs and the privacy and peace we were looking for. The suite comes with a butler, who made himself very scarce. In fact the only negative I have about the trip was the butler who was very lazy and hard to find. The rest of the crew made you feel like it was their personal goal in life to make you happy. I cannot say enough about our waiter Mert, and his assistant Vittala. They made every dining experience pure pleasure. These young men were professional and pleasant and absolutely nothing was too much for them to do. One night I couldn't eat another mouthful when we came to dinner, and I did not order an entree, Mert said "you must eat something, I will get you what ever you want". My comment was to him thank you, but tell me, do you get a commission if we eat". We both laughed. The entertainment, the dancers and singers, were as professional as some New York show I have seen and very enjoyable. The variety acts were good, but I don't care much for jugglers or magicians but I realize they have to have something for everyone. We only attended one of the late night parties as we took shore excursions at every port and enjoyed them tremendously, except perhaps were a little disappointed in the Totem Pole excursion, it really wasn't too interesting. But the shopping in town was fun. We loved the art auction and purchased three painting and two auctions. It was fun with the photographer taking all the pic's around the ship, they were a little too costly but we bought all of them including the video, (which isn't very professional, but a nice remembrance) perhaps they could change the music on the Alaska video it sounds very much like the X rated music. The last night was a sad one as we hated for the cruise, our new friends, the wonderful crew and just the whole experience to end. We hope to take another Infinity cruise next year and I think once you are on the best boat it will be a hard act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
Just returned from my first Celebrity Cruise which was aboard the Infinity out of Vancouver, B.C. on July 25, 2003. This was my 14th cruise but I say without hesitation, that this was the best. INITIAL COMMENT: I write this endorsement ... Read More
Just returned from my first Celebrity Cruise which was aboard the Infinity out of Vancouver, B.C. on July 25, 2003. This was my 14th cruise but I say without hesitation, that this was the best. INITIAL COMMENT: I write this endorsement of Concierge Class with some reservation. There are= only so many Concierge Class cabins on each ship. The more people who know about it will just make it more difficult to book them. So, lets keep this information to ourselves, OK? CHECK IN: We opted for Concierge Class cabin 9065 (Sky Deck) and in my opinion, the upgrade is well worth it and then some. We arrived at the dock (Canada Place) with a friend who was not in a Concierge cabin. After the initial sorting, we were all assigned a Processing Number (21). Then we were separated from our friend and sent though an express line for Concierge Class and Suites where we were registered and given gold identification cards. We then entered a large area crowded with people waiting to proceed through American Customs. (And no, I don't know why U.S. Customs was doing business in Vancouver, B.C. but I'm sure someone here will educate me). They were only working on Group 11, so we assumed we would have a long wait. However, within a minute or two, there was an announcement for all passengers in Concierge Class or Suites to come forward. At that point we were moved to the front of a very long line and immediately processed through Customs and allowed to board the Ship. Our poor friend then spent the next two (2) hours in that crowd waiting to get on board. As you can imagine, the speedy check-in alone made the extra charge worth it! But, the benefits of Concierge Class only started there! THE CABIN: We think the biggest improvement is the upgraded linens, the goose down duvet and the PILLOW TOP MATTRESS PAD, which completely eliminated the dreaded crack in the middle. The pillow choices were great (we took goose down). The daily color change for the towels and bath rug was an unexpected surprise, especially when I realized that the room steward was changing the colors of the cue tips each day so they matched the color of the towels!! There were so many other little touches -- binoculars, padded balcony chairs, larger table, upgraded Frette bathrobes, golf umbrella (which we used in Juneau), fresh cut flowers in the cabin and the bathroom! The level of service was also very good. In Concierge Class, there is a special enhanced room service menu. We used this to order in-cabin breakfast service every night before bed. Unlike other cruise lines, where the food arrived with a sudden knock on the door, with Celebrity, we received a phone call each morning to tell us breakfast was on the way up. It was such a nice touch and avoided the awkwardness of a surprise early delivery. Another great move was the room steward cleaned the railing and the glass panels on the balcony every day! (I have been on suites on the Rhapsody of the Seas and on the Grand Princess where this was not done.) It was something you noticed and appreciated every day when you looked out your balcony doors or sat out there with a cocktail! On the issue of the overhang, I have to admit that I became a little obsessed with this issue after lingering around these boards too long before the cruise but once on board, the overhand from deck 10 above did not bother us at all. (We also did not have any problem with noise from the pool deck.) THE SHIP: The Infinity is a beautiful ship! During the week, we discussed what it was about this ship that was so nice. We came to the conclusion that it was an understated elegance in the decoration. The ship's interiors are beautiful and well done without being "over the top." I think this was what bothered us so much about RCI's Voyager of the Seas -- way over the top without the elegance (see my review from last year). The main foyer area with the long white drapes and onyx staircase is beautiful as are the main dining room and the theatre. (I didn't quite understand the burning boxes in the walls of the theatre, but if you didn't think about it, you were fine!) The SS United States restaurant was also wonderful. The goat cheese souffle, Steak Diane and chocolate souffle were TDF (to die for). Don't miss the following: - Wonderful fresh pastries every afternoon in the Cova Cafe. The Ship's Bar Manager, Tonya, from Sweden always seemed to be right there and was one of the friendliest officers on board. - A full Sushi Bar each afternoon on deck 10..and I said FULL Sushi Bar! Not just California Rolls. Everything including broiled eel and hot sake! - Pea Soup in a bread bowl to keep you warm while at the Glacier! - Probably not entirely legal, but we borrowed a couple of= the wool blankets from the pool deck and kept them on our balcony for chilly days! - Champagne on boarding and Hot Chocolate upon returning to the ship after a day in port! - Take all the digital pictures you want! You can download them to the ship's server as often as you need to and, at the end of the week, you can burn all of them on to CDs for $15.00 per CD. Each CD can take up to 700 megabytes so that's a lot of pictures! The staff is very helpful and will guide you through the whole thing. - The Arabian Gardens in the spa. For $17.00 per day, you can use multiple steam rooms, saunas, heated benches and showers. I think the best were the small steam room with the smell of Eucalyptus and the Lemon tropic shower. It was very relaxing and very warm!! They may have a discounted weekly rate. I'm not sure. - Low Cal, Low Fat spa lunches in the Spa Cafe were also good. I had these between my normal lunch at the buffet and my late afternoon cheeseburger and pizza snack at the Breezes Pool Cafe! (Just kidding!!!) AND THE GREATEST IDEA ON AN ALASKAN CRUISE IS Ta-Da!! The Thalassotherapy Pool. This is the covered pool forward of the main pool on Deck 10. It is an adults only pool that is kept almost as warm as the hot tubs. The salts and minerals in the water are great. It has stainless steel pipe bleachers to lay on in the pool and large curved overhead pipes with flowing water to massage your neck, shoulders and back. It was just great to come back chilled from an outing off the ship and jump in for your daily self administered spa treatment. And while I understand that they originally wanted to charge for this pool, there is no extra charge now. FOOD: Without reservation (no pun) the food aboard the Infinity was wonderful no matter where you were. The Main Dining room service is great (except for a recurring problem with the wine steward). If you don't see anything you like on the dinner menu, the waiter told me you can ALWAYS order off the menu for a strip steak, chicken or a fish dish any night of the cruise. The food at the buffet on deck 10 is also very good. Always fresh, good tasting and the views from this casual dining area are magnificent for breakfast, lunch and/or sushi! Homemade ice cream is also great as are the omelet bar in the morning and the pasta bar at lunch. Last year on the Voyager, the food looked good, but was just plain bland and tasteless. On the Infinity, everything looked great and tasted great! The Pastries on the Voyager looked good, but always tasted like sponge cake. On the Infinity, an eclair tasted like an eclair! It was wonderful! THE PORTS: Juneau: The Tramway up the mountain in front of the ship dock was great. Beautiful nature walks from the top. The forest was beautiful. Skagway: A bit of a Disney-like experience but still fun for what it is. We took a motor excursion up the pass rather than the White Pass Railway. We had been told the train was nice but limited since they don't stop on the way. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride up and back. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and stopped at several places for pictures and to view waterfalls. The cost was also about a third of the cost of the train. The trip cost about $35.00 per person. Hubbard Glacier: I guess I expected to see a big blue ice cube floating in the water. Boy, was I wrong! We came so close to the glacier. The sound of the cleaving of the ice and it crashing into the water was so intense! We spent about 1/3 of the time in the Constellation (deck 10), 1/3 on deck and 1/3 on our balcony. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Ketchikan: I think this was the most American City. It was cute but unless you were on an excursion, not a lot to do. We were originally anchored out but were able to dock at 3 p.m. next to the Summit when the Dawn Princess left the dock. Prior to this, the tender service was great so long as you were Concierge Class or in a suite. There were special tender passes left in the cabin the night before by the room steward. That morning, we were directed away from the crowd and sent to Michael's Bar to wait instead of the main theater. They had coffee and pastries there for us. After just a few minutes, we were put in the front of the next tender group to leave. I think it saved a lot of time since there were a good number of people waiting in the theater. Vancouver: Loved this town. We stayed for a few days after the cruise and had a wonderful time. RANDOM NOTES: - Michael's Bar is no longer a cigar bar. I quit smoking in January, but was told that the cigar bar was now up in the Constellation on 10 (but I didn't see anything to indicate a cigar bar up there). - The ship's photographers on the Voyager of the Seas drove us crazy last year. To the point of causing traffic jams when trying to get off the ship. I'm glad to say this is not true on the Infinity. They are there, but will back off if you indicate you don't want a picture taken. - There is a topless bathing area on the very top forward area of the ship, but this doesn't seem to be a big-ticket item on Alaska cruises even in late July!! - This ship is wonderful but there was so much going on that we were still finding out about stuff up to the last day! Read your daily programs and don't forget a highlighter to mark it up so you don't miss things you want to do. - Although we were not able to eat at midnight (second seating) we did come down to see the Grand Buffet. It was beautiful as were the special window shades that they use that night. - The huge aft window in the main dining room was incredible. We had wonderful sunsets during second sitting, as the sun would go down as late as 10 pm or thereabouts. BRINGING ALCOHOL ON BOARD: OK this is the skinny: I don't think Celebrity really cares if you bring a couple of bottles of booze on board. We brought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of rum on board packed in Ziploc bags in our checked luggage. We carried the mixers in our hand luggage. Never a problem. I don't think there would have been if we had carried it all in our hand luggage. They don't seem concerned about it. END NOTES: In summary, the Infinity was my 14th cruise and I can say without reservation, that this cruise the best of all of them. This actually surprises me! As a side note, Celebrity and the Infinity actually remind me of my first cruises on Royal Caribbean over 10 years ago. The food is uniformly good and the staff conveys a genuine feeling that they want you to enjoy yourself. I realize that Celebrity is now owned by RCI and this doesn't comfort me. I hope they have the continuing good sense to leave Celebrity alone! I also promise to forgive RCI for my Voyager cruise last year so long as they promise not to try to "improve" Celebrity! It was a wonderful week that has restored my faith in the cruise vacation! We will be back and it will be Celebrity!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
Summit 7/11/03 - Alaska Southbound (Seward to Vancouver) Age: 40 Occupation: Business Analyst Number of Prior Cruises: 4 Cruise Line: Celebrity Ship: GTS Summit Sailing Date: July 11, 2003 Itinerary (abbreviated): Seward, Hubbard ... Read More
Summit 7/11/03 - Alaska Southbound (Seward to Vancouver) Age: 40 Occupation: Business Analyst Number of Prior Cruises: 4 Cruise Line: Celebrity Ship: GTS Summit Sailing Date: July 11, 2003 Itinerary (abbreviated): Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver Beware, this is a long review About Us For this trip, I left my wife and son at home and headed off into the Last Frontier with my father-in-law. I had never done this since being married, but my wife wasn't interested in going to Alaska - her loss - and my mother-in-law thinks she doesn't like cruises - something that is inconceivable to me! We didn't plan this trip in advance, but fell upon a price I thought I'd never see again in my lifetime for an Alaskan cruise ($700pp inside guarantee), and booked it only 3 weeks before departure. This was my father-in-law's first cruise and my 5th. Previously, I had sailed on Premier's "Atlantic" for a 4-night Bahamas cruise, a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Disney's "Magic," a 10-night Circle Caribbean on RCCL's Grandeur of the Seas, and a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on RCCL's Enchantment of the Seas. About our Fellow Passengers On our cruise, the average age was about 55. The ship was full with almost 2000 passengers on board. As usual their was a wide range of age groups. There were about 30 children on board, another 20 teenagers, and a few some honeymooners. Everyone else was approaching mid-life crisis, soon to be retired or already retired. No loud partying - just the way we like it. If you like to relax on your vacation, Celebrity is for you. The Bad News I'll start off with the exciting (read "bad") news for this cruise. Then I'll leave that bit of trouble behind and give you the good news - because, despite the problems, we were in a beautiful place, the weather was terrific most of the time, and we had a great time! Please note that this information has been culled from various sources including my own experience, newspaper articles, web reports, and conversations with members of the Summit's deck crew. On 7/9/03, two days before our cruise's departure from Seward, the GTS Summit struck a rock below the water line in Yakutat Bay after visiting Hubbard Glacier. Although the collision was obvious to the crew and many of the passengers, we were told that some passengers did not even notice the event as it was occurring. At the next regularly scheduled stop at Valdez, divers were put over the side to inspect for damage. At that time, the divers noticed that the starboard prop had a "slice" in it. However, due to poor visibility, no other damage was evident and the Summit proceeded to its final port - Seward. During this leg of the voyage, the crew noticed that the water level in the starboard ballast tank was rising, indicating a possible breach. Upon arrival in Seward, divers performed a second inspection that resulted in the discovery of additional damage. There the divers found a 140-foot long crease along the hull - as if somebody drove their car along a post and it just put a dent all the way down the length of the side of the car. In the middle of this crease, the divers discovered a 10-foot long by 5-inch high hole through the hull of the ship that breached the starboard ballast tank. It was determined that the damage to the prop was not critical, and neither was the crease. However, it was obvious that the hole would need to be repaired before leaving Seward. The repair involved welding a temporary seal to the outside of the hole, then draining the ballast tank, and going into the ballast tank from the inside of the ship. Once inside the ballast tank, the repair crew fabricated a steal box that was welded to the inside of the hull over the hole, and finally, the entire box was filled with a marine compound to form a permanent seal. Once completed, both the Coast Guard and Lloyds approved the repair plan, and the ship was finally able to sail. The repair has been approved to be kept in place and monitored on a continuing basis until the next scheduled dry-dock for the Summit in 2005. What made this most frustrating for me personally was not the fact that the ship was damaged - hey, stuff happens - but rather the fact that complete information was not provided to the passengers, and worse, misinformation was given. For a company like Celebrity who is renowned for their service, I found this alarming. We did all our check-in (documentation, ticketing, proof of citizenship, cabin assignment, etc.) in Anchorage that morning. We were never told of a problem. Then, we spent several hours on the train to Seward (with a cruise rep on board) and were told nothing. We finally found out about the problem upon getting our room key in Seward. At that time we were handed a letter that started off "As you already know......." WRONG! The letter told only about the hole in the ballast tank, the fact that we would miss our port at Juneau and that Celebrity would be giving us a $300 per cabin credit, that there would be an open bar before dinner on Friday, that excursions were available for booking in Seward, and that the ship would depart Seward at 9:00pm on Saturday. We were never told about the crease or the damage to the prop. Most importantly, we were never told that this happened when the ship was under the command of a Marine Pilot, and not the Captain - it never occurred to many of the passengers that pilots are used for anything other than going in and out of ports. Next, was the issue of not reporting what was known when it was known. The captain had made periodic announcements throughout the day on Friday and Saturday stating that the repairs were moving along as expected. The only thing we noticed was that the language regarding our 9pm Saturday departure time was changing slightly as the day went along. First it was "confident." Later in the day it became "hopeful." Finally at 9:30pm on Saturday we were told that we would be leaving "sometime after midnight." On Sunday morning we awoke to a very familiar picture - Seward. During breakfast we were told that the repairs we taking longer than expected, that we would be missing our second port of call at Skagway, that we were again "hopeful" that we would be departing by 3:30pm, and that once we were under way, we would be advised of additional compensation. We were told that we could take a tender into town and that the last tender would be leaving at 3:00pm. With this in mind, we made our way to town to find a pharmacy. There we purchased a newspaper for the sole purpose of finding yesterday's baseball scores. It wasn't until we returned to the ship that we noticed that the Summit was on the cover of Sunday's Anchorage Daily News - top of the page no less. This is where we finally learned of the damage to the prop and the crease in the side of the ship. Most upsetting (from a customer service standpoint) was a quote from a Coast Guard officer that was made sometime on Saturday afternoon. The Coastguardsman was commenting on the cruise lines statements that the ship would be leaving on Saturday evening at 9pm: "But the Coast Guard was skeptical that the ship would leave so soon. 'I don't think that's possible Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jim Robertson said. They've got a lot of work to do.' Passengers apparently hadn't heard the official line." After reading that, we were just a bit peeved. We had been strung along with misinformation for at least a day. It appears that it had been obvious to everyone in the know that the ship would not be leaving on Saturday, yet Celebrity apparently kept that story alive until we woke up on Sunday morning. At 3:15pm on Sunday, we were told that the repairs we completed, that we were awaiting approval from the Coast Guard and Lloyds to sail, that we should be sailing by 6pm, and that there would be an open bar for the next hour. Mayhem instantly ensued at every bar on the ship. The sight of grown men and women fighting over six packs of beer was almost enough to make me wretch - and I do mean that they were walking away with a six pack in each hand. We finally left Seward at 6:30pm on Sunday. Shortly thereafter we were advised that Celebrity would be providing each passenger with a 50% off coupon for a future cruise as compensation for the delay - in addition to the previously announced $300 on-board credit per cabin. Now on to the good news! Flights and Embarkation For this cruise, we booked our own air and pre-cruise hotel using FQTV miles. We had non-stop flights on Continental from/to Newark, NJ. We arrived Anchorage at 8pm on Thursday, took a cab ($25 incl. tip) from the airport to the Anchorage Hilton. The next morning we got breakfast and walked the two blocks to Egan Center for check-in, arriving at 8:30am. We were one of the first passengers there. The check-in took us about 20 minutes. We were given a card that was to be exchanged for our room key in Seward. We were also told that we were being "upgraded" from a bus to the train departing at 12:30pm for Seward. We checked our bags there (trucked directly to the ship and delivered to our stateroom), and left our carry-on baggage with the attendants for retrieval prior to boarding the train. The concierge at Egan Center gave us information on what to do while we waited for the train. We ended up going to a Northern Lights slide show at the Arts Center across the street, walked down to the waterfront for a bit, and returned to Egan Center at 11:30am. Around 1:00pm, we were loaded onto a bus for a short trip to the train station. Each railroad car was set up with 4-person "booth-type" seating tables. We were seated with a very nice couple from northern Florida and had a great time with them. During the trip, light meals and beverages were offered and delivered right to our table by a crewmember. Simple snacks were also available in the bar car at the rear of the train. An on-board guide narrated portions of the trip and gave us advance notice of photo opportunities. The trip is about 4 ½ hours long - it may be frustrating for those eager to get to the ship. By contrast, the bus took only 3 ½ hours with an enroute stop. For the first 50 miles or so, the train parallels the highway used by the buses, and then turns inland away from the main road. The scenery was beautiful, sometimes spectacular. We were able to see large scenic sections of the Cook Inlet, a fly-in housing development with a grass runway in the backyards of the homes, a few eagles, sheep, moose, alpine glaciers, and lakes. Just before arrival in Seward, we were given additional forms to fill out - we don't why these were not given to us in Anchorage. Upon arrival at 5:30pm, we were ushered into the check-in building where we stood in line for another hour waiting to get our stateroom keys, get the now infamous letter announcing our late departure, go through security, and board the ship. We were in our stateroom at 6:30pm and our luggage was already there waiting for us. Upon boarding we were told that we had missed the first open seating for dinner and that we would have to wait till 8:30pm to eat - in Anchorage we had been told that tonight's dinner would be open seating from 6pm to 11pm and that we could go to the dining room any time we liked. Being that we had not eaten on the train, we went straight to the dining room anyway where we were immediately seated without question or comment along with several other people who had also just arrived from the train. Normally we play by the rules, but at that point in the evening we were tired, upset and hungry. We were frustrated that the "welcome party" advised us that we couldn't go to the dining room till 8:30, yet the dining room staff had no problem seating us right away. Overall the embarkation process could have gone better. Why we were told by Celebrity to be at Egan Center at 8am when no one departed for Seward until 1pm? Why did we have to check-in at Egan Center if we were made to stand in line again for an hour at Seward? Why the misinformation given to us in Anchorage about dinner that evening? This is a long tiring day, especially considering that people from the West Coast tend to fly into Anchorage that same morning, and Celebrity didn't make it any easier. This is an area that definitely needs improvement. Our Cabin We had booked this cruise at the last minute and had taken an inside guarantee. Previous to this cruise, I had always cruised outside with a verandah, so I didn't really know what to expect. Celebrity assigned us to a wheelchair accessible room on Deck 2 immediately adjacent to the forward stairs and lifts - cabin #2022. When we arrived we had to inform our Steward to separate the beds. Obviously our reservation request for beds apart had not been acted upon. The room was comfortable and about 50% larger than the standard staterooms. The bathroom was enormous by cruise ship standards. The room was decorated with veneer walls and furniture, had a mini-bar (you have to ask the Steward for the key), and a set of drawers in the closet along with the safe. Each bed had its own bedside table and lamp. Also included were a desk, chair, convertible loveseat/sofa bed, coffee table, interactive TV and VCR. Lighting in the stateroom was good. However, storage was inadequate - we basically lived out of our bags for the week. As I never got a chance to inspect a regular stateroom, I'll have to assume that the storage problem was unique to the wheelchair accessible room. Water pressure in the shower was rather poor also. On past cruises, I wanted to take the shower home with me, but not this one. Overall Level of Service With the exception of the way information about our delayed departure was handled, we felt that the service was exceptional! We were always greeted with a smile and a "good morning" by every crewmember we came into contact with. When we asked questions or advice from members of the crew we were always taken seriously and we never had the impression that the crewmember had given the same tired answer to hundreds of other people. If a photographer offered to take our picture or a bar waiter offered us a drink and we politely refused, they graciously left us alone. In the overall service category, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the crew a 9+. Overview of The Ship The Summit is a beautiful beast, and in almost spotless condition. The passenger to space ratio is excellent. Even though the ship was almost filled to capacity, we rarely encountered long lines. The layout is good and it is easy to find your way around. Every landing has directional signs and information about what is on each deck. The outdoor pool area is spacious although indigenous chair hogs took up many of the chairs - the outdoor pool was well used in Seward where the temperatures were in the 80s. The indoor pool (T-pool) was well used every day of the trip but never felt crowded. The exercise facility and spa looked great, although we never used them. And, the sauna's have picture windows! Food The Cosmopolitan dining room is on two levels. Dining assignments are found on a card in your stateroom upon boarding. The table numbering system is excellent with 400's on deck 4, 500's on deck 5, odd numbers on the port side and even numbers to starboard. When I travel with my wife, we prefer a table for two and we always had to stand in line at the Restaurant Manager's office to request it. On this cruise we requested a large table. Instead, my father-in-law and I were assigned a table for two - go figure. I felt that the food was excellent at every facility on the ship. The only exceptions were the scrambled eggs from the buffet line at breakfast - it's kind of hard to make good eggs when you're cooking 200 of them at once - and the first evening I got a cool prime rib. However, all meats I ordered were cooked exactly as requested. I had smoked salmon every morning, and shrimp cocktail every evening. The dinner menus varied and it is difficult not to find something to your liking. The presentation was excellent and our waiter answered any menu related questions we posed. Our assistant waiter remembered our drinks from the first day and he had them on the table before we arrived for dinner each night. Hint: even though they were not on the menu, shrimp cocktail is always available as an appetizer and New York Strip steak is always available as an entree. There is never a problem ordering multiple appetizers or entrees. If you want it, don't be afraid to ask for it. The breakfast and lunch menus in the Cosmopolitan dining room were very good although the breakfast menu never varied. The service during these meals was also very good. We did not eat at the Normandy Restaurant, but everyone we spoke to that had done so gave us rave reviews. They all said it was worth the $25pp cover charge. We ate at the casual dining area one evening. The menu was not as good as in the main dining room, but again, the food was delicious. On RCCL the casual dining was simply buffet style and not very good food. On the Summit, the casual dining is full service table seating. Our server there was very good. Important note: When we were done with dinner that evening, I handed our server our card to have the gratuity charged to our stateroom. He seemed surprised and I asked him if it was more appropriate to give cash instead. He replied that the card was fine - it was just that very few people actually tip in the casual dining areas as recommended by Celebrity. I guess that people think this is a cover charge that Celebrity keeps. Not true. This is a gratuity that goes directly to the server. Please note that most servers in the casual dining area during dinner hours are on their first contracts and almost never work in the main dining room during the length of that contract. These people work for $500 per month and never get to share in the tips given to the regular dining room staff. If you do eat in the casual dining area for dinner, please remember to tip your server. Several afternoons we ate at the Waterfall Grill on the pool deck. This is not RCCL's crappy pizza, burger, hotdogs and fries. Everything was really good, especially the pizza and hamburgers. On RCCL this area is an afterthought thrown in so people can grab a snack at odd hours and it really sucks. On Celebrity, this is a real dining venue - for fast food anyway. The breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent - far better than RCCL. One note, especially during lunch: I would suggest that prior to getting any food, you walk along the entire length of the buffet (and I mean all the way to the very back of the ship by the outdoor deck) and survey the offerings. The first time we ate lunch in the buffet area, we were finished with lunch, stuffed to the gills, and as we were walking out of the buffet we then found another serving station that we didn't even know was there. That day we missed out on carved ham, steamship round and the sautEed pasta station. BUMMER! The service in the buffet area is excellent. Trays are covered with linen. Servers will try to meet you at the end of the line to take your tray, escort you to an open table, and make sure you have something to drink. During breakfast I made a remark to my father-in-law about how I wished that they had cranberry juice in the buffet area. Evidently a waiter overheard me because two minutes later two glasses of cranberry juice appeared at our table. I asked the waiter where he found it - I thought I'd just hadn't seen it myself - and he told me that he went downstairs to get it for us. Now that's service! Entertainment I have never been on a cruise with better entertainment! I went to the show every evening. There were four Broadway-style shows. All of them were very good and appeared to be geared to all adult age groups. The cast of dancers and singers was larger than any previous cruise I had taken - 17 performers in all. The orchestra was awesome too! In addition to the regular cast, an acapella group and two Chinese acrobats were folded into the stage shows. In addition to the shows staged by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, there were two headliner shows. The first of these was Craig Dahn, a concert pianist whom I'd seen previously on the Enchantment of the Seas. He is a very flamboyant guy and a little strange, but he is a very good pianist. However, the theme song to the movie "Titanic" didn't go over well with this group of passengers - go figure! The second headliner was Jeff Nease, an absolutely hilarious comedian who made good-hearted fun of everyone from the captain to members of the audience. The final night was a variety show with encore performances by the acapella group, the Chinese acrobats, Craig Dahn and Jeff Nease. I thought the stage entertainment was first rate! On-board entertainment included music acts at the pool and in several of the lounges. A quartet played each evening before and after dinner, and there was also a harp player and a piano player. There were two karaoke nights and although there were a few people that couldn't hold a tune to save their lives, many of the passengers were really talented. One woman was absolutely fabulous. As an encore, she did a duet with another gentleman who was equally as good. Casino The casino was quite large and had all the usual games of chance. I spent several evenings playing blackjack in the casino and actually managed to win all my money back by the end of the cruise. I even saw several people winning large jackpots at the slot machines - and that doesn't every day on a cruise ship. All the dealers were very friendly. Itinerary and Ports of Call Day 1 - Friday - Seward See Flights and Embarkation, above. Day 2 - Saturday - Seward A Princess Ship was in port at the main pier and overnight we had moved to the coal dock. Tender boats were now in use to/from Seward. After breakfast we went to the Excursions Desk and booked a 1:00pm Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise ($72.00pp) and then took a tender into town. The weather was perfect - not a cloud in the sky and temps in the mid-80s. Due to our delayed departure, Celebrity had arranged complimentary shuttles and free admission (normally $12pp) to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. It was a rather small facility (as compared to the major aquariums on the mainland's East Coast) but had quite a few interesting displays. There was a Harbor Seal tank, a Stellar Sea Lion tank, and a seabird tank (Puffins, Kittewakes, Murres, etc.) Tanks can be viewed from above the surface and below the surface. There was a hands on display for kids (and big kids) where they allow you to "pet" starfish, sand sharks, etc. This is a very interesting little place. Prior to our tour we stopped at a local waterfront eatery to get a bowl of clam chowder. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed by it - I've had much better in New England. Met our tour at the dock. The tour was run by Kenai Fjords Tours. This boats were large and in excellent condition. The tour was approx 3 hrs long. The boat takes you all the way down to the end of the bay. Along the way the captain will stop whenever an animal or group of animals is seen. On our tour we saw seals, otters, sea lions, puffins and murres, and a humpback whale. The whale put on a show for us - it was like we were at Disney! We got within a 200 feet of the whale. Immediately after the captain idled the engines, the whale breached! It continued for a total of 5 breaches! Then it showed us it tail flukes several times, and finally spent about 10 minutes slapping its pectoral fins on the water. The captain was amazed, the on-board biologist was amazed, and the passengers were in awe! We were told that a show like this is rarely seen here at this time of the year and that even in Hawaii we would have been very lucky to have seen that much so close up. Made the day stuck in Seward worth it. Returned to the ship around 4:30pm. Day 3 - Sunday - Seward Still moored to the coal dock and tenders in use. Went into town in the morning to go to a pharmacy as all the onboard shops were closed because we were in port. This is where we bought the infamous copy of the Anchorage Daily News. Returned to the ship and spent the afternoon in the pool, T-pool and hot tubs. Finally departed Seward at 6:30pm. Day 4 - Monday - At Sea (Hubbard Glacier) Weather was overcast, foggy and low 50s. Crewmembers advised us that as we got nearer to the glacier, the fog usually lifts. They also said that, believe it or not, the weather was perfect for viewing the glacier. Too much sun and you can't see the colors very well, plus the glare gives everyone headaches - even when wearing sunglasses. Because of our delayed departure we were at Hubbard Glacier on a different day than scheduled and earlier in the day than scheduled. In this regard we lucked out as we were the only ship in the bay that day and had plenty of time at the face of the glacier. We arrived Yakutat Bay area around 10am where an Alaskan Marine Pilot (we hoped not the same one as from the last cruise) and two Alaskan Native guides boarded. By 11am we had positioned ourselves on Deck 12 above the Revelations nightclub on the Observation Deck. The crew had removed all the chairs from this area for the day to allow room for the large crowds of people. They did leave all the small tables in place and people were using them to stand on to get their heads and cameras above the windscreen. We had guessed that this deck would be the best place for viewing. We guessed right! Get there early though. Once we were close to the glacier, it got very crowded. We saw several seals and sea lions sitting on small ice flows - they swam away as the ship approached. Entered Disenchantment Bay around 11:30am. There it was about 40 degrees with a light breeze. As predicted, the fog lifted, and a little bit of sun came out to enhance the colors of the glaciers. We able to get within ¾ of a mile of the glacier face, and spent almost 2 hours hovering there. The guides were on the PA system giving information about the native people and their legends about the bays and glaciers. The Captain slowly spun the boat around so everyone could get a good view. Words and pictures cannot adequately describe this place. I can only say that it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. When the glacier calves it sounds like far off thunder. If you are patient, you'll see it calving too. If you are lucky enough to go to Hubbard Glacier on a cruise, bring a good camera with a long lens stabilizer, a good pair of binoculars, a warm jacket, hat gloves, and sunglasses. Pick your viewing spot carefully and early. The rest of the day was spent cruising offshore. Day 5 - Tuesday - Sitka Arrived Sitka at 7:00am in pea soup fog. At the sun warmed the air, the fog slowly lifted to reveal a naturally beautiful harbor area. There is no dock for large vessels in Sitka. All ships anchor in the harbor and use tenders. A Holland America ship was in port with us. We met our tour group (Russian American & Raptor Tour) in an on-board lounge and were then escorted to a reserved tender. As we were anchored at the far end of the harbor, the tender ride was almost 15 minutes long - plenty of time to check out the scenery. Our tour bus driver was a character and very informative. This tour includes a one hour stop at the Alaska Raptor Center where we were given an audience with a Bald Eagle named Volta for approx 10 minutes - The Eagle and his handler were sitting on a small stage not less than 10 feet from me. The handler gave an informative lecture about the bird and how he came to live at the Center. Then you are given some time to visit the gift shop, see the other bird pens outside, walk the nature trail and make phone calls. Next stop is the Sitka National Historic Park. It includes a small museum dedicated to the history of the battles fought between the local natives and the Russians in the early 1800s. Also on hand was a gentleman who was doing carvings. There is also a short nature trail that goes into the woods and the bus guide will point out a few things there. Not a terribly interesting stop, but that's just my opinion. Finally, this tour winds its way through town. The guide told us a few tales about the town and some of its key structures, and then dropped us off across the street from St. Michael's Cathedral - about a 5-minute walk back to the tender pier. We spent about 10 minutes there, did some window shopping (some nicer things can be had here but most prices are quite high) and then took the tender back to the ship. Day 6 - Wednesday - Ketchikan Arrived Ketchikan at 8:00am. Weather was in the low 60s with drizzle and rain all day. This is completely normal for Ketch. A nice day there is when the sky is overcast and it isn't raining. Although this was originally scheduled as a tendering port, we ended up at the dock - the Infinity was anchored in the harbor instead. There were two Princess ships at the dock. Later in the afternoon, one of these ships left port and the Infinity then weighed anchor and moved dockside. The tidal range in Ketch is huge - 30 feet or more. Because of this, the crew had to keep moving the gangway location. In the morning it was on deck 1. By late morning it was on deck 2, then on deck 3 by noontime, and finally moved to deck 4. Then the whole process reversed itself again later in the day. Our tour at Ketch was scheduled for 2pm so we spent most of the morning shopping, making phone calls and walking around. The shopping in Ketch is very good the prices for souvenirs are very reasonable. Tongass Trading Company is right at the pier. It is a large store with a very wide variety of items - they are a complete Alaskan outfitter. For this port we had selected the Totem Bite State Park & Town Tour. We met a rep on the pier and were pointed in the direction of our bus. We had a very informative driver/guide. She is a professional tour guide and has worked all over the world. The tour included a 20 minute narrated bus ride through town. Then, on to the park that is about 10 miles North of town. The tour guide provided umbrellas for the walking part of this tour. The forest trail into the park was jungle-like - Ketchikan is actually a rain forest. I thought the park was very interesting. There are several totems in the park and each one has its own story. There is also a Clan Lodge that was typical for the semi-nomadic natives many years ago. The building is big enough to house several families - although not in a style that we are accustomed to. No nails are used in its construction and the whole building can be dismantled and floated to a new location as needed. When the food supply fizzled, they just moved to a better location. The end of this tour was a 15-minute visit to the park's gift shop. Even if you don't buy anything, there are museum quality displays in the shop and sample of salmon and crackers were provided to each tourist. The tour ended with a trip directly back to the pier. Day 7 - Thursday - At Sea (Inside Passage) Weather was great. Highs in the mid-70s and sunny. Scenery is beautiful. Again, pictures and words will not do it justice so I won't go into much detail. I will tell you that as the day goes along and you get closer to Vancouver the scenery gets better. Much of the afternoon is spent going less than 10 knots. At points the passage is so narrow (with mountains shooting straight out of the water on both sides), that in order to make turns, the ship has to stop completely and thrusters are used to "swivel" the ship before continuing onward. Disembarkation (Vancouver) & Flight Home Best disembarkation process of any cruise I've been on! On past cruises we had been asked to get out of our rooms, find some place in a public area and then wait for our bad tag color to be called. This made for an absolute mob scene on the deck where the gangway is located. Even though people were told to stay clear of this area, no one ever seemed to pay attention. It always left a sour taste in my mouth and is a bad way to end a vacation. By contrast, Celebrity also uses colored tags, but combines them with numbers so that there are many more groups of people. Each group contains less than 100 people. When given your tags, you are also given a letter that tells you what public room to assemble in and what time to be there. Announcements are not made over the general PA system. Instead, announcements are only made in the room where that color is supposed to be assembled. This way, you don't have a ton of people hanging out in the gangway area waiting for their color to be called. They have to go to their assigned public room or they won't be able to hear their announcement. When your color is called, a member of the crew leads your group to the gangway. And because the groups are small, the waiting times are very short at each of the stations - immigrations, baggage, customs, etc. We were asked to meet in the theatre at 8:00am. Our color was called at 8:15am. We got off, went through immigration, got our bags, went through customs and went to the taxi line - all in less than 15 minutes. Dispatchers handle the taxi lines. The line was not long and we waited for less than 5 minutes to get a cab. We told our driver we were paying by credit card. Total cost including tip was $28CAD (about $20USD). We were at the airport at the check-in desk by 9am. Because we were so early, none of the lines were long. For those returning to the US, this is the procedure at the airport: You pre-clear US customs in Vancouver so you from that point on, it's like you're on a domestic flight. There is no curbside check-in. Porters are available, but if your luggage in not on rollers, I strongly suggest you rent a cart - you'll see why you need it in a moment. You check in at your airline's ticket counter where your luggage is tagged to its final destination and then given back to you to carry through the airport. Then you are ushered through the duty free shop - there is no option to avoid it. Once out of the duty free shop, you line up to pay the YVR airport improvement fee - $10CAD or $7 USD payable in cash or by credit card. Then, on to US immigration and customs where you fill out your US Customs declaration while waiting in line to see an immigration officer. Once past immigration, you hand your customs declaration to a customs officer - most people are just sent on their way at this point but some are asked to go into an inspection room for a formal interrogation and search of their luggage. After you clear customs you go through checked-baggage security where you are subject to a random search of your luggage. At this point you put your checked baggage on the conveyor belt. Then you take your carry-on baggage through a traditional magnetometer and x-ray security checkpoint. Finally, you are free to walk to your gate. We arrived at the gate two hours before our departure. Smoking lounges are provided in the gate areas. Typical airport vendors are also available in the gate area - food, newsstand, and souvenir shop. Our inbound aircraft was 20 minutes late arriving so our flight boarded and departed about 10 minutes late. Final Thoughts Even with all the problems in Seward, I'd do this trip again in a heartbeat. The scenery is spectacular. If you've never been to Alaska or the far Pacific Northwest, you need to go! The service on Celebrity was the best of any cruise I've taken. The food was a few notches better too. Although Celebrity is still a mass market carrier, they do a lot of little things that make you feel like you're part of a first class operation: Things like a welcome glass of champagne, personal assistance at the buffet, full service casual dining during dinner hours, robes in every stateroom, real terry cloth towels in the public restrooms, padded covers and throw blankets on all deckchairs (at the T-pool the deck chairs are teak and have lumbar pillows), abundant supply of towels by the pools (unlike RCCL where they give you two pool towels in your stateroom and have none on deck), no obnoxious announcements all day long for bingo, etc. All these small things add up to a very pleasant environment on the ship. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
7/11/03, the day we've been waiting for has finally arrived, we go to seward, alaska to day for the beginning of our cruise southward to vancouver. imagine our dismay when we check in and are handed a letter stating we will not be ... Read More
7/11/03, the day we've been waiting for has finally arrived, we go to seward, alaska to day for the beginning of our cruise southward to vancouver. imagine our dismay when we check in and are handed a letter stating we will not be leaving tonight due to the fact that they hit a rock coming out of hubbard glacier 2 days ago and divers are now working under the ship to repair the damage. damage control was on-- there would be a open bar this evening and each cabin would receive a $300 credit to spend on board. people were fairly understanding until the next night when we still did not sail and along with the cancellation of the port of juneau, we now learned that skagway would also be cancelled. luckily the weather cooperated! it was 85 degrees and the pool area resembled a Caribbean cruise, not alaska including marimba music. the bar was opened again for an hour prior to dinner. now people were becoming anxious, would we ever get to sail. met a man in the internet cafe who was working on a letter to celebrity management, possible class-action suit? the next day was sunday, i spent a great deal of it at the wonderful thalassotherapy pool in the aqua spa area. they have wonderfully designed loungers w/lumbar pillows, plaid blankets as well as large towels, and floor to ceiling windows, but people are beginning to complain about still looking at seward harbor. apricot sours were one of the drinks of the day and quite tasty. the bars were opened to free drinks once again at 3pm, music was wonderful at the pool, weather again was Caribbean- like, and many were getting a sunburn. quite a few missed the formal dinner that night, probably due to the open bar! we heard the engines rev during dinner and sail-away began. shortly thereafter the casino opened and the ship recouped most of the open bar money very quickly! my resolution was to spend very little time there, but of course resolutions are made to be broken and the next night i got my money back, winning a $250 jackpot on a jack in the beanstalk slot machine. fun, fun! mon, 7/14 up early to walk the jogging track on 11th deck. 3 times around is 5/8 mile. quite a few hardy souls were up there. foggy and cold, now people are wishing they were back in seward. stopped by the omelet station next for a cheese omelet. very difficult to remain on my dr. adkins diet with all the wonderful food around. 10 am we finally had a lifeboat drill, proof that we truly are sailing. we are on our way to hubbard glacier today. hope the fog clears so we can see. also some apprehension lingers about striking more ice or rocks. it did clear up and the glacier was indeed impressive. it even calved for us, sounded like thunder. the sun came out and the ice wall looked blue, what a sight! green pea soup was served in bread bowls and hot chocolate abounded. guess we are in alaska after all. at 4:30 an enrichment lecture was held, rivers of ice, i learned a lot about glaciers. that night a wonderful show was held in the celebrity theater. singers, dancers, and a pair of exquisite chinese acrobats performed. tuesday 7-15. we arrived in sitka at 7 am. so foggy you could barely see it, but by 9 when we exited the ship, the sun came out again. the amount of sunshine on this trip was incredible, it was as if god was trying to make up for the hole in the ship. by this time the front page of the anchorage daily news had circulated with the story of the "rock puts hole in cruise passengers' plans" www.adn.com 7/13/03. sitka is a beautiful little town. for $7 you can buy a shuttle ticket and get on and off all day at all the highlights. we headed for the raptor center where they rehabilitate injured birds. did you know a raptor is a bird who hangs on with his claws? medical treatment is sophisticated and many are able to return to the wild after retraining and flight training in a special room. those who are unable to fly again are made into educational trainers and either kept or sent to other areas for educational purposes. we next stopped at the totem park and museum which was quite interesting and was next to a very interesting trail into the rain forest. huckleberries, salmonberries, and blueberries abounded. good bear food, i didn't stay there long! had lunch at the shee-atica lodge. had a wonderful, sandwich, soup, and sampled alaskan beer which was quite good. rack of lamb in the dining room that night was wonderful, what has happened to my diet? wed, 7-16 ketchikan: a rainy day. natives here say this is their typical weather. decided to go see if we could go for a float plane ride to the misty fiords anyway. found an opening at taquan air. our bush pilot was ernie and it truly was a pleasurable flight. magnificent scenery and a landing in a quiet lake, sometimes bear are seen here, but we did not see any. salmon were jumping right out of the water however. the two men with us got out and stood on the floats, we were not that brave. after the flight, shopping was excellent right near the pier and i outdid myself. moose shirts for my grandchildren, a ring for me, alaskan fleece vests for my daughters, and an alaskan nativity scene with a rabbit fur to display it on. my views on hunting and trapping have changed since a trappers talk on the land portion of my trip. denali national park is an excellent example of a nearly perfect ecosystem and it has stayed that way for years and years with some help from the government. 7/17/03 last day of sailing was through the inside passage. again scenery was impressive and we sighted 2 humpback whales, some porpoises, and a sea otter. had dinner tonight in the normandie restaurant. you can step back in time as the ambience is of the first 1000 ft ocean liner. tableside preparation, a menu to die for, dozens of cheeses in the cheese course, and the chef michel roux's bite-size surprise dessert made it a 2 1/2 hour gastronomic experience. dr atkin's: see you on monday. all in all, despite the sad beginning, it was the experience of a lifetime. as i sit here playing a hobo jim cd and remembering sights, sounds, and quiet wildness, i know i want to go back! 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Sail Date: July 2003
Just returned from a 7 night cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver on the Summit. all i can say is "wow!". we were part of a large family gathering (18 people) ranging in age from 18 months to 85 years. i had some trepidation about ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver on the Summit. all i can say is "wow!". we were part of a large family gathering (18 people) ranging in age from 18 months to 85 years. i had some trepidation about taking our kids (including the baby) on this line, as i feared it might not be as "family friendly" as the other lines would be. i have cruised on carnival and rccl in the past and considered both a very good experience. when we first boarded the ship, we did the traditional "walk around" to explore. the first thing we noticed was the signs at the pools and on the playgrounds stating that no children in diapers (even swim diapers) were allowed in any of these areas. in my mind i was gearing up for a long week. however, from that point everything got surprisingly better. the itinerary was great, but what really surprised me was the service and attitude of the entire crew on board this ship. they were fantastic. from the housekeeper to the waiter even to the wine steward, everyone on board went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. our older kids found plenty to keep them happily occupied. my wife and i were treated like royalty. the shows were top caliber and family friendly (we found the carnival shows to be a bit risque for our kids to view). one night featured a comedian that had the audience roaring (and not a bit of profanity was used! - hadn't seen that in a while). the food was consistently excellent and served in a prompt and attractive fashion. even the children's menu changed nightly. we ate at the normandie one night (without the kids) and found that to be a delightful evening. we utilized in room baby sitting three evenings - that was both affordable and of high quality. in comparison to previous cruises, we found this ship to be very classy - not cutesy and not stuffy. we didn't find our bath towels folded into animal shapes when we returned to our rooms, and the waiters didn't perform card tricks tableside. however, we never got the raised eyebrow look of "why would you bring a child on board" either. i've always seen disney as being held up as the standard for excellent attention to customer service. i think celebrity should be added to the short list for other companies to model as well. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Vancouver to Alaska 8/1/03-8/8/03 Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the ... Read More
Vancouver to Alaska 8/1/03-8/8/03 Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures that are included are of our room 7203, which was an aft room with a huge balcony and of the Penthouse Suite. We met some very nice people (Wayne & Carol) who were gracious enough to invite us to the Penthouse Suite a couple of times. We saw the Hubbard Glacier from the Penthouse - but more on that later. The Review: This was the second cruise for my husband and me and both have been with Celebrity. We were on the Millennium last November. The Infinity is a beautiful, clean ship and almost identical to the Millennium. I really only have two negative criticisms about our cruise on the Infinity, so I will just get that over with now and get on to the good stuff. As I said the Infinity is almost identical to the Millennium and that includes the menus and the entertainment. We wished that there had been more variety. Granted, we went back with Celebrity because we loved what they had to offer, but we just wish there would have been a difference between the two ships. We think that the menus were exactly the same on our Caribbean cruise as on the Alaska cruise. The production shows were exactly the same. They were good mind you, just the same with different singers and dancers. The second negative thing I have to say was leaving the ship. We had to wait for more than an hour once we got to the lounge before we were allowed to leave the ship. Once we did leave the ship everything went very smooth. Ok, now to the good stuff... We drove from Colorado to Vancouver. A great road trip with plenty of good scenery. Vancouver was beautiful and we stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel the night before the cruise. It is very expensive, but definitely worth the splurge. The Pan Pacific is right at Canada Place. In the morning when we were ready to board the ship, we just called the bell captain and they came and got all of our luggage. We didn't see the luggage again until it was outside our stateroom door. We parked our car at CruisePark, (www.cruisepark.com) which was easy and rather inexpensive. It cost about $62 US for parking for the eight nights - not bad. We dropped our car off at their lot, which was about a quarter mile from Canada Place and they shuttled us back to the Pan Pacific. When we got off the ship, they sent a shuttle to come and get us and had our car ready to go. They totally helped with the luggage. I would recommend them. If you use CruisePark you can make reservations in advance from their website. Embarkation was a breeze. If you are a Captain's Club member, I would suggest telling anyone you meet with a Celebrity nametag that. We were put in front of many people and were among the first to board. They had special check in tables for CC members and there want a line at all. Check in took about two minutes and then we had to wait to clear US Customs. After about a 15 minute wait, CC members were allowed to board after people in wheel chairs and parents with small children. If you have a Passport, bring it. They barely look at you - makes things move right along. Once we boarded the ship, we were greeted with champagne. A white- gloved attendant showed us to our room and helped with our carry-on baggage. We were in room 7203, a category 1C aft cabin with an enormous balcony - in fact, the balcony felt like the same size as the room. There was plenty of storage and other than the color scheme and the giant balcony, was exactly the same as our room on the Millennium. We had spectacular weather for pretty much the entire cruise. Leaving Vancouver and going under the Lion's Gate Bridge was breathtaking. When the ship left port, we were on Deck 11. The pool band was playing and Bon Voyage Drinks were being passed around. The waiters were not pushy with the drinks, but they were there if you needed them to be. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline that is only enhanced by a view of Mount Baker in the background. Food & Service Although the menus were the same, the food was delicious and plentiful. I love the breakfast buffet with all of the fresh baked breads and the omelets that are cooked to order. The French toast is quite good too. The buffet workers were always friendly. The waiters carried the buffet trays for women to your table when you were done getting your food. We did have lunch in the Trellis (main) Dining room once. We had great tablemates at that lunch, but overall I preferred the buffet for lunch. We dined in the Trellis every night, except the last formal night when we dined at the S. S. United States. I met with the Maitre'D on the day we left to check our table assignment. I was not pleased that we were originally seated by the entry doors to the dining room. I tried to grease the Maitre'D with a twenty dollar bill to get a better table but he said that want necessary because he still couldn't help me. As a last straw, I finally had to pull the "birthday card" since it was actually my birthday that day to get a better table. We were placed at an eight-person table a few tables away from the Captain's table on the fourth deck - the first floor of the dining room. We had a great view out of the large picture windows behind the Captain's table. We sat with two Russian couples that reside in Los Angeles, and a couple from Chicago. A fun table overall, but we will request a six person table the next time we cruise. The dining room gets a bit noisy and it was hard to hear the people that were on the opposite side of the table from where we were. The Infinity serves 8,000 meals a day and every meal I got was hot and cooked to order. I would say that the dining room food was excellent. Each night our waiter Andre would tell us about the menu and give his recommendation for the night. I will admit that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I had steak every night, except when they had lobster and then I had Prime Rib and Lobster. If we wanted something all we had to do was ask. We had pretty slow cocktail service on the first night of the cruise and one of the Russian couples complained about it. Boy, did we get the "full court press" the following night. We had a new cocktail server who was very attentive and fast at getting the cocktails. The maitre came and apologized and then bought the table a bottle of champagne to share. Our Assistant Waiter, Punto knew that my husband liked iced tea and always brought him two iced teas at the beginning of each dinner. I had purchased a soda card (about $40), which is good for fountain soda drinks throughout the cruise. If you have more than two sodas a day, this is a good value. The new and improved cocktail server knew I had a soda card and automatically brought me a Diet Coke each night and it was replaced as soon as it was empty. We dined at the S.S. United States on the last formal night. For an additional $25 per person you really can't go wrong. It is worth it alone just in the service and personal attention that you will receive during this amazing experience. Each dish is delivered and set down at the table at the same time, usually accompanied by a "Voila!" Fine crystal and silver are used in this dining room. I especially liked the crystal old fashioned salt well on the table. The food was great. I had the goat cheese soufflE - and yes it is as good as everyone says it is. My husband had the lobster soup, which was delicious. We both had the Steak Diane, which was cooked for us table-side. The cheese course is excellent with a good variety of choices. For desert, I had the Crepes Suzette (also cooked table-side) and my husband had the Chocolate soufflE - he wished he would have also ordered the Crepes Suzette, which was truly outstanding. We spent a small fortune on alcohol on this night. We had wonderful champagne at $17 a glass to start, a good red wine from Central California, and I finished it off with a dessert wine. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and was able to spend more time with us than in the main dining room, which is probably why we drank so much that night. Our room steward, Frank was great. My husband commented that it took years for me to learn his schedule, but it only took Frank about two days to learn it. He just knew when we would be gone and whenever we came back, the room was clean. On the first day I asked for an extra towel and didn't have to ask again. Celebrity does have new chocolates for the pillows, more like a truffle actually. It was very difficult going to bed after the cruise without seeing one of the chocolates on my pillow. Don't worry, I am adjusting. Ports & Scenery First of all, let me just say that the scenery that we saw was more beautiful than I could have even hoped for. We live in Colorado with a view of the Rocky Mountains and in my opinion, the scenery was far better in British Columbia and Alaska. Inside Passage What a treat to be able to cruise and constantly see a changing landscape. My husband had a GPS unit and a detailed map and loved keeping track of where we were, and where we were going. Juneau In Juneau, we chose to go whale watching with Captain Larry's whale watching. They have a toll-free number on their website and you can call and make reservations. They fill up quick as they are highly recommended on the Ports of Call board here on the Cruise Critic. The cost was about $100 per person - they charge you half when you make the reservation and the other half the night before your excursion. The tour office is an easy walk from where the ships dock and they take you in a bus to Aulk Bay where the whale watching boat is docked. The boat is small and holds about 25 passengers. On this tour, we saw Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Seals and about a dozen Humpback Whales. The boat is equipped with an underwater microphone and you can hear the whales singing. They sing louder right before they surface. You can see great from all sides of the ship. They provide binoculars if you don't have your own. Even though it was overcast on this day, it didn't rain. We had a fantastic view of the Mendenhall Glacier from the whale watching boat. My biggest mistake was only bringing three rolls of film - I burned through it pretty quick. Juneau, the town, was quite the tourist trap. The Red Dog Saloon had good food and entertainment - a funny piano player singing songs and making fun of all of the tourists. The Alaska Fudge shop did have great fudge. Other than that, nothing very original. Skagway In Skagway, we rented a car from Avis and went out to explore the Yukon and drive on the Alaska Highway. This was the only day on the entire trip that it rained and it only rained for a little while in the morning. We drove almost the exact same route as the Yukon Pass Rail Road - a popular tour offered by the cruise ship. We stopped in Carcross because it is just an adorable small little town. The people that work in the General Store are very friendly and gave us a good tip about visiting Canyon. I had read on the Ports of Call board that they have great ice cream in the General Store. It was so good that not only did we have it on the way to White Horse, we stopped for a second helping on the way back. Get the Pralines and Cream if you go - you won't be disappointed. We stopped at Emerald Lake and it was very beautiful. The pictures that we took here look like someone superimposed our pictures over the lake - it just doesn't look real. White Horse is a pretty big town and the capital of the Yukon. I found the town to be nice and not too touristy. We had lunch in town at a small deli and then drove on the Alaska Highway for a while. We saw signs for Fairbanks and Anchorage - very cool. On the border checkpoint back in Skagway, they actually stamped our passports with a "Skagway Alaska" stamp - something very novel in today's day and age. It is a good memento. Hubbard Glacier We had a very bright and sunny day for viewing the Hubbard Glacier. WOW, WOW, WOW. What a sight, and what sounds!! On the way to the Glacier we were able to see an unobstructed view of Mt. Elias at over 18,000 feet high. The Hubbard Glacier was a definite highlight of the trip. The ship was able to get within one and a half ships lengths away from the Glacier. The Glacier is six miles long and 300 feet high. It has a bright blue color. On the day we were there, there was a lot of action going on. The calving was amazing. Calving is when large pieces of the Glacier fall off into the water. The sound is a mixture of Snapping, Popping, Crackling and an occasional burst of thunder. It was a great show, Mother Nature at her best. We stayed for at least an hour, maybe longer in front of the Glacier. The ship made several big spins in front of the Glacier so there were great views to be had from everywhere on the ship. The crew was passing out delicious pea soup in bread bowls (no cost) and offering stainless steel mugs of hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys ($7.50). I must say both were excellent and the stainless steel cup is a nice souvenir. For the better part of the viewing of the Glacier, we were on the 11th Deck but it was rather crowded. Once the ship started making turns, we went back to our aft cabin to view. When we were standing out there, our friends that were in the Penthouse Suite were also on their deck and invited us down to their suite. There were several of us from the Cruise Critic Board hanging out and watching the Glacier. What a great day! Ketchikan Again, we had beautiful sunny weather. It was warm and we were dressed in shorts. I felt sorry for all of the people lugging jackets and sweatshirts around. We had to tender into Ketchikan. Again, we said we were captain's Club members and we were given priority boarding. We didn't have any excursions planned for this port. Ketchikan is a good town to walk around in. Creek Street is cute but again, very touristy. We had lunch in town, bought some final souvenirs, checked email at an Internet cafe and went back to the ship. On the last sea day, a pod of Orcas swam along side the ship for about a half hour. Unfortunately, I was out of film and the digital camera just wasn't 't fast enough to catch them. The image is certainly burned in my brain though. One other highlight to mention: The people that I met through the Cruise Critic Board were great. We had arranged to meet for cocktails the night before the cruise at the Pan Pacific and also at the pool bar on the day of embarkation. I felt like wherever I went, I knew people. The Cruise Critic Party was good. The Cruise Director (Ray Carr), the Social Hostess and the Assistant Hotel Manager all attended. We were able to ask a ton of questions and it was both informative and fun. Thanks to the Infinity staff for making us feel so important! A great trip overall. The Infinity and her staff were top notch. A True Departure - most definitely. Here is the link for some of the pictures that I took: http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/romoffm Be sure to click on the slideshow link rather than viewing each picture separately. I will be happy to answer any questions!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures ... Read More
Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures that are included are of our room 7203, which was an aft room with a huge balcony and of the Penthouse Suite. We met some very nice people (Wayne & Carol) who were gracious enough to invite us to the Penthouse Suite a couple of times. We saw the Hubbard Glacier from the Penthouse - but more on that later. The Review: This was the second cruise for my husband and me and both have been with Celebrity. We were on the Millennium last November. The Infinity is a beautiful, clean ship and almost identical to the Millennium. I really only have two negative criticisms about our cruise on the Infinity, so I will just get that over with now and get on to the good stuff. As I said the Infinity is almost identical to the Millennium and that includes the menus and the entertainment. We wished that there had been more variety. Granted, we went back with Celebrity because we loved what they had to offer, but we just wish there would have been a difference between the two ships. We think that the menus were exactly the same on our Caribbean cruise as on the Alaska cruise. The production shows were exactly the same. They were good mind you, just the same with different singers and dancers. The second negative thing I have to say was leaving the ship. We had to wait for more than an hour once we got to the lounge before we were allowed to leave the ship. Once we did leave the ship everything went very smooth. Ok, now to the good stuff... We drove from Colorado to Vancouver. A great road trip with plenty of good scenery. Vancouver was beautiful and we stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel the night before the cruise. It is very expensive, but definitely worth the splurge. The Pan Pacific is right at Canada Place. In the morning when we were ready to board the ship, we just called the bell captain and they came and got all of our luggage. We didn't see the luggage again until it was outside our stateroom door. We parked our car at CruisePark, (www.cruisepark.com) which was easy and rather inexpensive. It cost about $62 US for parking for the eight nights - not bad. We dropped our car off at their lot, which was about a quarter mile from Canada Place and they shuttled us back to the Pan Pacific. When we got off the ship, they sent a shuttle to come and get us and had our car ready to go. They totally helped with the luggage. I would recommend them. If you use CruisePark you can make reservations in advance from their website. Embarkation was a breeze. If you are a Captain's Club member, I would suggest telling anyone you meet with a Celebrity nametag that. We were put in front of many people and were among the first to board. They had special check in tables for CC members and there wasn't a line at all. Check in took about two minutes and then we had to wait to clear US Customs. After about a 15 minute wait, CC members were allowed to board after people in wheel chairs and parents with small children. If you have a Passport, bring it. They barely look at you - makes things move right along. Once we boarded the ship, we were greeted with champagne. A white- gloved attendant showed us to our room and helped with our carry-on baggage. We were in room 7203, a category 1C aft cabin with an enormous balcony - in fact, the balcony felt like the same size as the room. There was plenty of storage and other than the color scheme and the giant balcony, was exactly the same as our room on the Millennium. We had spectacular weather for pretty much the entire cruise. Leaving Vancouver and going under the Lion's Gate Bridge was breathtaking. When the ship left port, we were on Deck 11. The pool band was playing and Bon Voyage Drinks were being passed around. The waiters were not pushy with the drinks, but they were there if you needed them to be. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline that is only enhanced by a view of Mount Baker in the background. Food & Service Although the menus were the same, the food was delicious and plentiful. I love the breakfast buffet with all of the fresh baked breads and the omelets that are cooked to order. The French toast is quite good too. The buffet workers were always friendly. The waiters carried the buffet trays for women to your table when you were done getting your food. We did have lunch in the Trellis (main) Dining room once. We had great tablemates at that lunch, but overall I preferred the buffet for lunch. We dined in the Trellis every night, except the last formal night when we dined at the S. S. United States. I met with the Maitre'D on the day we left to check our table assignment. I was not pleased that we were originally seated by the entry doors to the dining room. I tried to grease the Maitre'D with a twenty dollar bill to get a better table but he said that wasn't necessary because he still couldn't help me. As a last straw, I finally had to pull the "birthday card" since it was actually my birthday that day to get a better table. We were placed at an eight-person table a few tables away from the Captain's table on the fourth deck - the first floor of the dining room. We had a great view out of the large picture windows behind the Captain's table. We sat with two Russian couples that reside in Los Angeles, and a couple from Chicago. A fun table overall, but we will request a six person table the next time we cruise. The dining room gets a bit noisy and it was hard to hear the people that were on the opposite side of the table from where we were. The Infinity serves 8,000 meals a day and every meal I got was hot and cooked to order. I would say that the dining room food was excellent. Each night our waiter Andre would tell us about the menu and give his recommendation for the night. I will admit that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I had steak every night, except when they had lobster and then I had Prime Rib and Lobster. If we wanted something all we had to do was ask. We had pretty slow cocktail service on the first night of the cruise and one of the Russian couples complained about it. Boy, did we get the "full court press" the following night. We had a new cocktail server who was very attentive and fast at getting the cocktails. The Maitre'D came and apologized and then bought the table a bottle of champagne to share. Our Assistant Waiter, Punto knew that my husband liked iced tea and always brought him two iced teas at the beginning of each dinner. I had purchased a soda card (about $40), which is good for fountain soda drinks throughout the cruise. If you have more than two sodas a day, this is a good value. The new and improved cocktail server knew I had a soda card and automatically brought me a Diet Coke each night and it was replaced as soon as it was empty. We dined at the S.S. United States on the last formal night. For an additional $25 per person you really can't go wrong. It is worth it alone just in the service and personal attention that you will receive during this amazing experience. Each dish is delivered and set down at the table at the same time, usually accompanied by a "Voila!" Fine crystal and silver are used in this dining room. I especially liked the crystal old fashioned salt well on the table. The food was great. I had the goat cheese soufflE - and yes it is as good as everyone says it is. My husband had the lobster soup, which was delicious. We both had the Steak Diane, which was cooked for us table-side. The cheese course is excellent with a good variety of choices. For desert, I had the Crepes Suzette (also cooked table-side) and my husband had the Chocolate soufflE - he wished he would have also ordered the Crepes Suzette, which was truly outstanding. We spent a small fortune on alcohol on this night. We had wonderful champagne at $17 a glass to start, a good red wine from Central California, and I finished it off with a dessert wine. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and was able to spend more time with us than in the main dining room, which is probably why we drank so much that night. Our room steward, Frank was great. My husband commented that it took years for me to learn his schedule, but it only took Frank about two days to learn it. He just knew when we would be gone and whenever we came back, the room was clean. On the first day I asked for an extra towel and didn't have to ask again. Celebrity does have new chocolates for the pillows, more like a truffle actually. It was very difficult going to bed after the cruise without seeing one of the chocolates on my pillow. Don't worry, I am adjusting. Ports & Scenery First of all, let me just say that the scenery that we saw was more beautiful than I could have even hoped for. We live in Colorado with a view of the Rocky Mountains and in my opinion, the scenery was far better in British Columbia and Alaska. Inside Passage What a treat to be able to cruise and constantly see a changing landscape. My husband had a GPS unit and a detailed map and loved keeping track of where we were, and where we were going. Juneau In Juneau, we chose to go whale watching with Captain Larry's whale watching. They have a toll-free number on their website and you can call and make reservations. They fill up quick as they are highly recommended on the Ports of Call board here on the Cruise Critic. The cost was about $100 per person - they charge you half when you make the reservation and the other half the night before your excursion. The tour office is an easy walk from where the ships dock and they take you in a bus to Aulk Bay where the whale watching boat is docked. The boat is small and holds about 25 passengers. On this tour, we saw Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Seals and about a dozen Humpback Whales. The boat is equipped with an underwater microphone and you can hear the whales singing. They sing louder right before they surface. You can see great from all sides of the ship. They provide binoculars if you don't have your own. Even though it was overcast on this day, it didn't rain. We had a fantastic view of the Mendenhall Glacier from the whale watching boat. My biggest mistake was only bringing three rolls of film - I burned through it pretty quick. Juneau, the town, was quite the tourist trap. The Red Dog Saloon had good food and entertainment - a funny piano player singing songs and making fun of all of the tourists. The Alaska Fudge shop did have great fudge. Other than that, nothing very original. Skagway In Skagway, we rented a car from Avis and went out to explore the Yukon and drive on the Alaska Highway. This was the only day on the entire trip that it rained and it only rained for a little while in the morning. We drove almost the exact same route as the Yukon Pass Rail Road - a popular tour offered by the cruise ship. We stopped in Carcross because it is just an adorable small little town. The people that work in the General Store are very friendly and gave us a good tip about visiting Canyon. I had read on the Ports of Call board that they have great ice cream in the General Store. It was so good that not only did we have it on the way to White Horse, we stopped for a second helping on the way back. Get the Pralines and Cream if you go - you won't be disappointed. We stopped at Emerald Lake and it was very beautiful. The pictures that we took here look like someone superimposed our pictures over the lake - it just doesn't look real. White Horse is a pretty big town and the capital of the Yukon. I found the town to be nice and not too touristy. We had lunch in town at a small deli and then drove on the Alaska Highway for a while. We saw signs for Fairbanks and Anchorage - very cool. On the border checkpoint back in Skagway, they actually stamped our passports with a "Skagway Alaska" stamp - something very novel in today's day and age. It is a good memento. Hubbard Glacier We had a very bright and sunny day for viewing the Hubbard Glacier. WOW, WOW, WOW. What a sight, and what sounds!! On the way to the Glacier we were able to see an unobstructed view of Mt. Elias at over 18,000 feet high. The Hubbard Glacier was a definite highlight of the trip. The ship was able to get within one and a half ships lengths away from the Glacier. The Glacier is six miles long and 300 feet high. It has a bright blue color. On the day we were there, there was a lot of action going on. The calving was amazing. Calving is when large pieces of the Glacier fall off into the water. The sound is a mixture of Snapping, Popping, Crackling and an occasional burst of thunder. It was a great show, Mother Nature at her best. We stayed for at least an hour, maybe longer in front of the Glacier. The ship made several big spins in front of the Glacier so there were great views to be had from everywhere on the ship. The crew was passing out delicious pea soup in bread bowls (no cost) and offering stainless steel mugs of hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys ($7.50). I must say both were excellent and the stainless steel cup is a nice souvenir. For the better part of the viewing of the Glacier, we were on the 11th Deck but it was rather crowded. Once the ship started making turns, we went back to our aft cabin to view. When we were standing out there, our friends that were in the Penthouse Suite were also on their deck and invited us down to their suite. There were several of us from the Cruise Critic Board hanging out and watching the Glacier. What a great day! Ketchikan Again, we had beautiful sunny weather. It was warm and we were dressed in shorts. I felt sorry for all of the people lugging jackets and sweatshirts around. We had to tender into Ketchikan. Again, we said we were Capitan's Club members and we were given priority boarding. We didn't have any excursions planned for this port. Ketchikan is a good town to walk around in. Creek Street is cute but again, very touristy. We had lunch in town, bought some final souvenirs, checked email at an Internet cafe and went back to the ship. On the last sea day, a pod of Orcas swam along side the ship for about a half hour. Unfortunately, I was out of film and the digital camera just wasn 't fast enough to catch them. The image is certainly burned in my brain though. One other highlight to mention: The people that I met through the Cruise Critic Board were great. We had arranged to meet for cocktails the night before the cruise at the Pan Pacific and also at the pool bar on the day of embarkation. I felt like wherever I went, I knew people. The Cruise Critic Party was good. The Cruise Director (Ray Carr), the Social Hostess and the Assistant Hotel Manager all attended. We were able to ask a ton of questions and it was both informative and fun. Thanks to the Infinity staff for making us feel so important! A great trip overall. The Infinity and her staff were top notch. A True Departure - most definintely. Here is the link for some of the pictures that I took: http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/romoffm Be sure to click on the slideshow link rather than viewing each picture separately. I will be happy to answer any questions!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
This was our third cruise, first on Celebrity. Other two were on NCL and RCCL. Our children preferred RCCL, but we loved the more formal cruise experience of Celebrity and the wonderful pampering. We were particularly wowed by the ... Read More
This was our third cruise, first on Celebrity. Other two were on NCL and RCCL. Our children preferred RCCL, but we loved the more formal cruise experience of Celebrity and the wonderful pampering. We were particularly wowed by the exceptional service everywhere on board. One of our group had sailed Crystal in Alaska, and could not say it was any better than the Infinity. If anything, he preferred the many more choices available on the Infinity to the smaller ship he took with Crystal. Alaska in the summer is a great way to beat the heat. So many exciting excursions to choose from. We went kayaking, hiking, took the railroad, and went salmon fishing. We were too chicken and cheap to try heli-hiking. Our daughter went for a dog sled ride (on wheels because there's no snow in the summer) in Skagway and raved about it. We booked the excursions on our own through the internet sites of the chamber of commerce of each city. All of the excursion operators were truly wonderful. Very accommodating and totally reliable. What can you say about the Infinity? I can't say enough about it. We had 4 of us in an inside stateroom, and the cabin was very well laid out. We had swim suits, shorts, sweaters, jackets, rain slickers-somehow there was room for it all. There was actually a fifth berth in the cabin-a pull out chair-and if economically necessary, two average size adults and three children could fit. The cabin steward invisibly pulls the beds down at night and puts them up during the day, and is a great help in keeping everything neat and orderly. There was always something available to eat regardless of when we returned from our excursions or how late we slept. The buffet breakfast was served until 12, at which time the buffet lunch commenced immediately. There was pizza and pasta at 3, sushi at 6 and ice cream all day (no charge). Instead of having to be herded into midnight buffets, uniformed waiters with trays of hors doeuvres and pastries patrolled all the public areas at 11:30pm. A truly elegant touch. The dining room was very formal, with a harpist or trio serenading at dinner. We thought the food was terrific. Everything was nicely sauced and very tasty. Not a simple feat when there were about 1,600 passengers on our cruise. The cremes, meringues, and flans were a particular treat, each one flavored differently, never dull. The specialty restaurant, SS United States, was spectacular, but may not be for everyone, as it lasts about 3 hours because all the food is prepared to order. An unusual treat was the spa cuisine, available for breakfast and lunch in the AquaSpa. Beautifully presented and delicious. I thought the party band, Onyx, was terrific. The two man band in the Rendezvous Longe was something of an acquired taste. Ditto the piano player in Michaels Pub. But the musical productions were fantastic-elaborately staged and costumed with wonderful singers and dancers who presented everything from Phantom to La Boheme. There was even a classical quartet that played before and after dinner in the coffee bar. Thankfully, cigars could only be enjoyed on the outside aft deck. Also, we hardly noticed any cigarette smoke, except in the crowded casino. Kudos to Celebrity for managing that matter in a civilized fashion. Also for never announcing of activities over the PA system. There really is so much more to talk about. Let me just say it was all incredible- elegance and class from beginning to end. The only negative I can think of is that it is not the best choice for singles. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Vancouver BC My partner and I flew from Chicago to Vancouver, B.C. with American Airlines using frequent flyer miles. We arrived in Vancouver early on Thursday August 21, 2003, and checked into our hotel the St Regis. This hotel was ... Read More
Vancouver BC My partner and I flew from Chicago to Vancouver, B.C. with American Airlines using frequent flyer miles. We arrived in Vancouver early on Thursday August 21, 2003, and checked into our hotel the St Regis. This hotel was booked through Expedia.com, as was our cruise. It was basic but clean and centrally located. We spent all day Thursday exploring Vancouver, though most of the afternoon was spent on Granville Island, which is reachable from downtown via a bridge using the # 50 bus, $2 Canadian each way. There are lots of art galleries, a brewery, a produce/ fish market, restaurants and a marina. This place is well worth a visit if you are spending any time in Van City. On our return from the cruise we spent a further two nights in Vancouver Vancouver is a beautiful city: clean and scenic, with friendly and helpful natives. We were blessed with very fine weather, sunny and in the high 70's, unusual for Vancouver to have San Diego weather! In addition to Granville island, we rented bikes and explored Stanley Park, we also toured the Gastown district and on our final day we rented a car and drove the "sea to sky" highway to the ski resort of Whistler. In Vancouver we dined at two quality restaurants: the Pacific Culinary Institute on Granville Island and the Kettle of Fish on Pacific near Howe. Both very worthwhile, especially of you enjoy fresh seafood. The Cruise: This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first to Alaska. Previously we have sailed in the Caribbean (Southern and Eastern) with Norwegian Cruise Lines, the now defunct Dolphin Lines, Sun Cruises and Carnival. We are now hooked on Celebrity, so positive was our experience. The few negative things I mention here are so that Celebrity can make the cruise experience even more positive for future passengers. I hope they take note of their passenger reviews, and I hope that you, the reader, will get some tips for your cruise on Infinity. Embarkation: the only delay next day was waiting for US Immigration officials who arrived at 12noon: we were there at 11:00am so we had to hang around for an hour. If you are going on the cruise, use your morning to explore Vancouver and plan to arrive at the Cruise terminal after 12:30pm. Once on board, we headed directly to the lunch buffet and when we arrived back at our cabin the luggage had already arrived. The Ship. The Infinity is a new ship, just over two years old, and she is beautiful. She is quite a large vessel, and seemed to dwarf other ships at the various ports we sailed to. She is the largest in Celebrity's fleet, though the dEcor is very modern, and if you're looking for a traditional ship with lots of teak and brass, you will be disappointed. There were over 2000 passengers on board but due to the size and spaciousness of the ship, we never felt it was too crowded. Due to recent outbreaks of the Norwalk Virus on other cruise lines, Celebrity staff were always visible cleaning surfaces and door handles with peroxide, especially in the public restrooms. It was great to see Universal Health Precautions being observed throughout the ship, which was-- with one exception (described below)-- spotlessly clean. The passenger demographics were: lots of Asians on board, and most people in their thirties and older. We met passengers from England, Australia, Spain and Israel. Not too many young people, although there were some teenagers fuming at the sign by the Thallasotherapy pool area that read " Children under 18 not allowed." Celebrity might like to change that one. Teenagers don't like to be called children! It seems that the crew are given one day off per week, and on our first port day (Juneau) it was obvious from the mess in the pool area that they were short-staffed. Used towels were strewn about and dirty food trays went uncollected, for hours! This was the only time that I noticed this. At all other times, the ship was spotless. Another observation I had was that some of the young people on board barged straight into the elevators without waiting for passengers to get off, which I thought was extremely irritating. If I had done that at their age, I'd have had my ears clipped by my parents. We had an inside cabin, number 2103, and we found it quite large compared to staterooms on other cruise lines we had experienced. We didn't mind having an inside cabin as we are hardly ever there during the day, although I can see the advantage of having an ocean view cabin or a verandah on the Alaska cruise. There was plenty of storage. My only gripe is that Celebrity does not provide shower gel, so bring your own! They do provide bar soap, lotion and shampoo, but as I'm bald and don't care much for bar soap I had no use for these items, and had to buy shower gel in Juneau on our first port day! In addition, I had a sore on my gum and needed Anbesol. The sundries shop on board the ship was useless. It carried none of the items I needed, such as Anbesol and shower gel, and as far as I'm concerned the shopping emporium on Infinity is a lot of wasted space. If you are to have a sundries store, then it should be well stocked or don't bother. There is a casino on board. Slot machines are tight and the only one with a consistently good payout was the Cleopatra nickel machine first on the left as you enter the Casino. I won 5,000 nickels (enough to pay for the bear watching excursion!) on a $2 bet. Not bad! But I heard from other passengers that they had not had much success on the quarter and dollar slots. Watch out at the Blackjack tables: study the rules carefully before you play. Their Blackjack rules differ greatly from those on land-based casinos. Cuisine: We took most meals, including breakfast, in the main dining room: The Trellis. Breakfast is cooked to order, a nice change from the buffet. The food on Celebrity is exceptional. It is beautifully prepared and presented, with a wide variety. The only exception was a salmon dish that one diner at our table had to send back. One couple at our table desired a kosher menu, and it was provided for them with no problem. We had fresh seafood options every day, and lobster tail and filet mignon were among the menu items on various evenings. Celebrity offered a variety of chilled soups which were all excellent. It was my partner's birthday during the cruise and as a surprise I had ordered a bottle of bubbly to be served to him-- with flutes for everyone at table-- on the evening of his birthday. Problem was, the wine steward gave away the surprise on the previous evening by announcing that this was to be served next evening. I took this complaint to customer service, and never got any satisfaction. This surprised me, given the fact that Celebrity boast about exceeding customer expectations. The staff on Celebrity is International and our waiter was from Honduras. He was excellent, but due to language difficulties there were one or two misunderstandings. A nice touch is the linen tray covers and linen napkins that are provided at the buffet meals in the Oceanview Restaurant. The fresh orchid on each table of the dining room is another touch of class. We attended an elegant afternoon tea one afternoon, also in the main dining room. Our table was for six people, and we were blessed with wonderful dining companions. Aside from ourselves, there was a couple from Brooklyn, New York, and another couple from Toronto,Canada. We got along so well that we met at the Martini bar almost every evening before dinner. The bartender, Victoria, was wonderful. Her secret ingredient? "I shake them with love." The Specialty Restaurant On one evening we dined in the SS United States, the ship's specialty restaurant. This is well worth the extra expense of $25 per person. Many of the dishes are prepared tableside and presented in the style of the old ocean liners. The chef provided an opening "amuse": asparagus wrapped in smoked wild salmon. After dinner coffee was presented with a tray of petits fours I dislike cheese, and as one of the four courses offered here is a cheese course, they allowed me to choose two appetizers instead. I highly recommend the Lobster Veloute and Steak Diane. We dined here on one of the formal evenings, and wore tuxedos. The only complaint I have about this restaurant is that I had to ask twice, and wait, for my water glass to be filled. Any restaurant that claims to be of this standard should never have a customer have to wait for something as basic as this. Activities and Excursions: Ports of call were Juneau, Skaguay and Ketchikan. We took the local Juneau blue bus service to see the Mendenhall Glacier. It is $10 round trip, and a substantial savings on the $39 being charged by Celebrity. We also took a floatplane excursion in Ketchikan to an isolated area in the Tongass National Forest, where we saw black bears catching salmon from a river. We also saw bald eagles, mountain goats and, as we flew back to Ketchikan, we saw a pod of Orcas swimming in the Sound. This trip cost us approximately $250 each, and was a much better value than the $350+ being charged by Celebrity. In Skagway we took the White Horse Railway to the Canadian border. This was the only shore excursion we purchased through the ship. We did much better by going it on our own for the shore excursions: We got better deals on shore than by buying through the ship. The highlight was the morning we sailed into Yakutat bay and saw the Hubbard Glacier. It is awesome and magnificent. We got within a half mile of the glacier wall, and we could hear it thundering and cracking. Bring loads of film or memory cards for your digital camera. Also lots of warm layered clothing! We actually saw a piece of this glacier calving into the bay. They also had Rangers on board to answer questions and a naturalist who gave excellent lectures on the geology and fauna of Alaska. You will learn a lot by listening to these experts. The Spa. There is a huge Spa on board the Infinity. It consists of a large Thalassotherapy pool which is heated sea water with bubble jets: very relaxing after a morning hike through the rain forest! There is also a large men's locker room with Sauna and fresh clean towels. Nearby is the Persian garden, a spa oasis in tile and mosaic, with Turkish bath, herbal steam room and thermarium with a variety of showers. There is also an Aqua Spa Cafe serving lighter and healthier fare for lunch. I have some complaints about the spa service: First it is run by Steiner Inc., not by Celebrity. Their staff seemed to use the Persian Garden an awful lot as a shortcut to get from Port side to Starboard and vice-versa. I resented this as I had to pay $99 for the privilege of using the Persian Garden for the duration of the cruise. In addition, one of the thermariums,—the Sahara Room-- was out of order for at least two days of the cruise. My biggest complaint is that I ordered a massage before the ship left port (they offer a 10% discount on day one if you order before sailing) and then at the time of my appointment, the massage therapist offered me a deep tissue massage. I accepted but he didn't tell me that this was $30 more expensive. I didn't realize this until I was checking my receipts that evening. When I took the problem to the spa staff, I was made to feel that I should pay for what I got. The problem was I didn't order it, it was offered to me as an option and I was never told it was a more expensive option. It seems that the staff of Steiner Inc., the people who run the spas on Celebrity, need some education about ethical business conduct and customer service. I didn't like their attitude, which was snooty and condescending. That's all I have to say abut that: it was one of the few negative experiences I had on this vacation. I did eventually get my refund, but I had to make efforts to get it. By the way, when comparing notes with other passengers, it seems that Steiner Inc. try to get customers to take more expensive services all the time at the Spa. I think they need to tell you if the price is different to what you think you'll be paying. Not to do so is grossly unfair. They also have a heavy sales pitch for their products, which are outrageously expensive compared to other brands for similar products. Entertainment: from the morning trivia quiz in the library to the Broadway style shows in the theater, we have no complaints about the entertainment on the Infinity. Our favorite was Nathaniel Reed, the talented soloist and Piano player who did an outstanding job every evening in Michael's lounge. We were also entertained by a harpist and a string quartet who played well during dinner or at various times and places throughout the ship. Despite my complaints, I have to say that the Infinity and its staff scored very highly. We will definitely choose Celebrity again. We joined the Captain's Club, a sort of frequent cruiser program. We also enjoyed the coffee morning "Cruise Critic" party where we met some of the staff, and other cruise critic members. I hope the comments offered here will be of help to others taking this cruise and with this ship. I also hope Celebrity can learn from what I have written here. They do have a quality product. But they should fire Steiner Inc. and run the spa with their own staff. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
I selected Celebrity because the reviews about its food and service were excellent, and that it delivers good value for the money. I enjoyed this cruise. It is one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had because I didn't ... Read More
I selected Celebrity because the reviews about its food and service were excellent, and that it delivers good value for the money. I enjoyed this cruise. It is one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had because I didn't have to re-pack for 14 nights and I didn't have to 'drive' anywhere. The only part of this vacation that caused stress was the lack of a place for kids under 3 to play. The Summit has a fantastic Fun Factory for children, but they don't allow kids under 3 to even enter, not even under a parent's supervision. My kid just wanted to sit comfortably on kid sized furniture and color. I was very disappointed that she couldn't go and play in the one place that was safe. Aside from Celebrity's lack of service in this area, we enjoyed the rest of the cruise. I was impressed by the: SERVICE: How genuinely friendly some of the waiters and waitresses were, especially at lunch time. The Internet cafe staff and computer class instructors were always courteous and helpful. We uploaded our digital photos onto the computers for free and had a lot of fun viewing our photos on the ship. We also copied them onto cds just to be safe and not take a chance of losing any of them. FOOD: The Afternoon Tea - the tea sandwich selection was amazing. Even restaurants in the Ritz do not offer such a selection. The Croissants are addictive. I had to have 2 every morning. And the chefs that cook your eggs to order were fantastic. Dinner: the cold soups are yummy. The escargots are scrumptious. The steak/filet mignon were inconsistent: I had one that was 'melt in my mouth' good, and then I had one that was overcooked. Lunch in the Restaurant was a lot better than the buffet lunch. The service was amazing, and again, they offer the cold soups. Ice Cream- homemade good. I wanted to try all of the different flavors. CLEANLINESS--The public rooms on the ship are spotless. ART--The art pieces are lovely, they add interest all over the ship. Other places of interest: Notes, Words, and the Atrium: The library is a nice touch, although I wish they had more fun 'beach reads'. Notes was fantastic. You could listen to all kinds of songs, would have been better if the room had a view!! The Atrium is very pretty with lovely flowers and plants. The free flower arranging class was worthwhile. PORTS - the selected ports were lots of fun. All were walking distance from the port, except Victoria, where we took a bus to the Butchart gardens. Instead of taking the Grayline bus, the more economic and flexible choice would have been renting a car. There was an agent at the port. The Grayline bus tour was fine, but first you had to pay $5 to take the bus to the Empress hotel, then you have to get in line to buy the ticket to go to Butchart Gardens, then you have to wait for the bus to arrive (the bus goes every hour). So, we spent a lot of time waiting in lines and waiting for the bus. ALASKA: HELICOPTER glacier landing - the most fun excursion we did in Alaska was the helicopter ride in Juneau, landing on a glacier. We went with Temsco because they were recommended and they also did not charge our 18 month old. Everyone at Temsco was super friendly. The helicopter ride itself was breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures. We brought a water bottle and took some glacier water, it was so fresh and crisp! The experience was fantastic. WHALE watching: it was ok. We saw some, but didn't get close at all, so the only pictures we had were of them from afar, spouting water. I was hoping to see them a lot closer up, and more of them. Another boat had a close encounter, so it's just luck. WHITEPASS Yukon River train excursion - it was very scenic, but it's questionable whether a 3+ hour train ride is worth $90. ENTERTAINMENT: The comedians were fantastic! The music provided by the various groups of musicians and DJ was memorable. It was so nice to have a cup of tea in the Cafe watching and listening to the 4 Sounds Quartet. The DJ played the most fun and appropriate music by the pool area, I love sitting there enjoying the scenery and the music. We also loved watching people dance to the guitar music and singing in the lounge. They really made a contribution to the overall cruise experience. Areas Celebrity could improve on: --Let kids under 3 have access to a room where they could hang out and play. --The coffee. A couple of times, it was really good, nice and strong. But, most of the time, it was weak or acidy. I couldn't figure out where the good coffee came from. --Room service. They claim that there is 24x7 room service, but when you want to order dinner using that day dinner menu, instead of the 'room service limited offerings', get ready to wait at least an hour for your food. For breakfast, you could only order what's on the breakfast menu. Even if you know what's 'available' at the buffet, you can't have it if it's not on the menu. This contradicts the 'bend over backwards to make you happy' message Celebrity tries to convey. --Tell the spa staff to stop trying to sell their products. It takes away from the 'de-stressing' treatments you just had. The treatments were really good. The specials they have on Port days were good. --Yoga. I paid $10 for a yoga class. The teacher was not experienced (she had to consult a book during the class). They should NOT charge extra if they did not hire an expert in that field to teach. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
This was our first cruise, and it has spoiled us! The embarkation at Vancouver was very easy, the Concierge Cabin line went quickly. The champagne and escort to our cabin was a nice touch. The cabin itself was nicely appointed, fresh ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and it has spoiled us! The embarkation at Vancouver was very easy, the Concierge Cabin line went quickly. The champagne and escort to our cabin was a nice touch. The cabin itself was nicely appointed, fresh flowers, plenty of cabinets, drawers, hangers and a wonderful veranda for the two of us. Our adult son and daughter stayed in an adjoining cabin, so we usually kept the door open between them. We thought the food was great, and plenty of choices for our vegetarian daughter. There were always plenty of stations without long lines. We ordered room service breakfast once, food was good, but awkward to eat all of that food with our limited table space. The rest of the mornings we ate at the buffet. Lunches were either buffet or the outside grill. Kids ordered room service almost every night and enjoyed the pizza. We ate at the specialty restaurant one night and felt it was well worth the $30 per person, the service, music, and food were terrific. Three of us went to the spa on our first sea day, 2 had the stones treatment and the other a combo facial and massage. The staff was nice, we went away refreshed and relaxed. The daily newsletter advertised quite a few interesting packages later in the cruise, so watch for those. We ate at early seating the other nights in the Trellis and our waiter, Akin was great. The food was always good, and we had lots of great choices. Only went to one show the second night, nice singing and dancing, but we were too antsy to sit for long. Spent the other nights in the Casino, the disco, wandering the shops, sitting on our balcony, or just exploring the ship. Had a lot of fun with karaoke, trivia, pictionary, and bingo on the last day. If we were in our cabin around 4, the steward, Frank, brought canapes (most of them were quite yummy. I had brought a few bottles of wine and champagne, as well as cans of soda from Vancouver, to enjoy on the balcony. We asked Frank to clear out both mini-bars,and we kept them cold, he also brought us a wine bucket with ice, if we left the wine out. He was great in keeping our beds and room neat. The ports were good, we had hot weather for the first 5 days of the cruise. Sitka was too foggy so all the tenders went out late and the ship cancelled all of the shore excursions. Disembarkation was not as much of a pain as we thought it would be. We did have to wait for an hour in our designated waiting place until called. Once off we had a line for Canadian customs (30 minutes), were escorted to a bus to the Airport where we picked up our luggage went thru American customs, checked it and went on our merry way back home. We had made our own travel arrangements, so we bought the bus voucher on board. It was $15.00 each but they put our bags on the bus, then had them waiting for us at the airport- well worth it! We would definitely sail Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
THE SUMMIT We boarded at 11:30 Friday morning, June 11th,. Embarkation was quick, friendly and efficient. Posed for the Welcome Aboard picture and up the gangway we went. Service staff was available with a tray of champagne and OJ. We were ... Read More
THE SUMMIT We boarded at 11:30 Friday morning, June 11th,. Embarkation was quick, friendly and efficient. Posed for the Welcome Aboard picture and up the gangway we went. Service staff was available with a tray of champagne and OJ. We were handed an information sheet on what was open and told that our Sky Suite would be available after 1 pm. As we had had a late breakfast, we decided a tour of the ship was in order, and off we went to explore. The Stateroom We were in SS 6125, Penthouse Deck. The room was very well maintained, had a large bathroom, and extra room on the veranda due to location. Gene, our butler, appeared very shortly after our arriving in our room; our Cabin Attendant, Milford, showed up about an hour later. Both individuals were very friendly and quietly maintained the cabin throughout the cruise. Note to Celebrity: 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel and 1 wash cloth per person is a bit chintzy, don't you think? Women use 2 bath towels (1 for wrapping up their wet head and 1 for the ol' body). I know we can ask for more; but really, couldn't ample towels be provided from day one and then replaced as necessary? Also, it's time to replace some of the "suite" robes. Both of our robes showed wear; and one had a ripped pocket. It would also be nice if the cabin attendant would replace a robe that is obviously soiled (mine ended up with quite a bit of makeup on the front the 3rd day out). I put it in the tub with the wet towels thinking it would be replaced, but returned to find it had just been hung back up on the door. The Public Rooms: Overall, attractive and very well maintained. There was plenty of comfortable seating in the various bars; our 2 favorite hang-outs were the Martini Bar and Michael's Lounge. What we found "cheap", however, were the same plain peanuts and borderline stale breadsticks that were passed out each night with your drinks. Come on Celebrity! At least spring for the premium mixed nuts and maybe throw in some pretzels or "chex" mix. The Casino was a different issue, smoke-filled with only a very small designated non smoking space at one end with a few slot machines; if one wanted to play the tables you would have to sit in the middle of all the smoke. The Aqua Spa: Sheer indulgence, outstanding service -- what more need be said? Restrooms: What happened to cloth hand towels? Other than finding them in a restroom the first day, the only restroom I found for women that had hand towels - and not paper towels - was in the Aqua Spa. My husband, on the other hand, said that there were cloth towels in each of the men's restrooms he used. And as for hot, running water in the ladies rooms, it was virtually non existent in most of the public bathrooms I used. Restaurants & Food: Good selections in both main dining room, cafes and buffets. Variety of choices was good, with always a fish, poultry and beef selection at dinner. Top of the list - the chef's Coq o'Vin and roasted quail; fish selections were usually quite good, but tended to be fairly boring in presentation. The lobster is not particularly great (spongy and tasteless). Soups were also lacking in imagination and taste. The same consommE broth was recycled each night into a different "flavor", and the cream soups tasted more like the flour thickener instead of the asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower that was listed. Soup chef needs to pop up the flavor! Celebrity Staff Other than the Aqua Spa staff who provided 5 star service and attitude, both my husband and I felt that while service was efficient, there was no effort to go "above and beyond" what was expected. Bar staff, with the exception of one waiter, could not remember your name or what you were drinking (even though we showed up in the same place every night). On HAL, the bar staff "nailed" our names and drinks after one night. Our dining service was actually very good, with the exception of the Assistant Maitre'd assigned to our area. Our first encounter was on the 3rd night when he appeared at our table and introduced himself. He began asking how we were enjoying our cruise experience. We told him that we were finding Alaska a wonderful place. He then inquired as to the type of "experience" we were having on Summit. We replied that we found service to be adequate, but not stellar. We asked him if there was a lot of new staff onboard, thinking that this could be the "problem" as staff in several areas seemed unsure of what they should do and when. Mr. M'd stated "no" and said that Summit staff was exceptionally experienced. Obviously, our response was a bit troubling to him and from that night on he persisted in showing up at our table and going through lengthy discussions of how we were perceiving staff and service. No matter how we changed our answers to his inquiries (we got to the point that when he said hello, we immediately said "EVERYTHING IS GREAT!), he continued to ramble on and on. I actually hid behind a menu one night in hopes that he would pass us by -- he didn't. And lastly, but actually our first Staff encounter was with Jessica, the Social Hostess. She introduced herself while we checked in; and upon retiring the first night, we found an invitation to dine with the Chief Engineer the following evening, the first formal night. Only problem was, the invitation was for the early seating and we were "late shift." As such, I had already made appointments at the Aqua Spa that I really didn't want to cancel (my vacation, my stress relief time, my dining choice). First thing the next morning, we went to Guest Relations and offered our regrets to the invitation. We returned later to our stateroom and had a phone message from Ms. SH. I called her and again expressed our apologies and tried to explain, but she was not interested in a reason. She was extremely curt and dismissive in tone and hung up the phone after saying, "I got your message from Guest Relations." Ms. SH was also the person in charge of scheduling the Cruise Critic gathering. Once again, her timing was way off - she scheduled our party at 1:30 pm, exactly the time we were entering Hubbard Glacier (and all wanted to be out on deck). So, from a reserved group of 28, we had about 12 people show up, stay for 10 minutes and leave to go see the glacier. Lastly - The "Rules" Celebrity needs to decide whether or not to enforce their own rules: no jeans in the main dining room at dinner and no children in the Aqua Spa/T-Pool. Blue jeans appeared in the DR every night except the 2 formal nights; and children were in the T-pool every day. The spa staff would run the kids off when someone complained (I did one day), but unless someone said something, kids continued to be in the pool. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that children are allowed to "eat" in the Spa Cafe, but not swim in the hot tub or pool. Maybe this whole, one area should be designated Adults Only? Perhaps since Alaska is a very casual environment, jeans should be allowed in the DR except on formal nights? Will we sail Celebrity again? It's likely, but not on Summit. There are many comments on this board supporting a great cruise experience on the other X ships. Chances are, we will give one of those ships a try next year. Overall Alaska experience? Phenomenal! Our comments on the Ports of Call are posted on the "Boards." Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Our 13 day Tour/Cruise Celebrity tour 15 Wow what a trip! Our first time to Alaska (and I hope not our last). We had the best time!! Day One - Our trip began at 7:50 am in Orlando FL. We had a long flight to Seattle with a 1.5 hour ... Read More
Our 13 day Tour/Cruise Celebrity tour 15 Wow what a trip! Our first time to Alaska (and I hope not our last). We had the best time!! Day One - Our trip began at 7:50 am in Orlando FL. We had a long flight to Seattle with a 1.5 hour lay over. When we finally arrived in Fairbanks it was 8:00 pm (12 midnight our time). It was 89 degrees, something we were not expecting. We were met at the airport by Celebrity's reps (very organized) and taken to the hotel, Sophie's Station. There we met our tour guide, Bryn, she went over everything that was planned for the week and gave us our room keys. We had a great room, "The Jacuzzi Suite". It was the best room we had all trip. By the time we went to bed we had been up 21 hrs. But wait it's still daylight out . . . Day Two - We met our tour guide by 7:50 am and off we went to the El Dorado Gold Mine. On the way we made a quick stop at the Alaskan Pipe Line. Very cool. Along the way she pointed out points of interest and Alaskan history, she did this throughout the trip. El Dorado Gold Mine was lots of fun, we had heard that it was a bit too touristy but what the heck we were tourists. Between my husband and I we panned $10 worth of gold which I had made into a pendant. Back to downtown Fairbanks for lunch and to tour the town on our own. In the afternoon we did the River Boat Discovery. It was a 3 hour narrated trip down the Chena and Tannana rivers. We stopped along the way at different spots, like Susan Butchers Iditorod dog camp. Very interesting. Also at an Athabascan Indian Village. Also, very cool. Back to Sophie's Station where the evening was free to do excursions on our own if we chose. A very long but good day. Day Three - On our way to Denali! We boarded the Wilderness Express at 8:00 am. What a beautiful train. The glass dome train cars gave us great views. We chose to have breakfast in the dining car, very reasonable. The next 4 hours we rode through some great landscape, we saw lots of birds and a moose, but we were riding too fast for a photo op. We arrived at Denali at 12 noon. We had two hours for lunch and to tour the town which wasn't very big by the way. At 2:00 pm we boarded a school bus (no other vehicles are allowed in certain parts of the park), to tour Denali National Park. It was an 8 hour ride. 4 hours in and 4 hours back. WOW! What a beautiful place, the landscape and the weather kept changing the farther we went it to the park. We saw lots of Dali Sheep, Caribou, but the highlight of the trip was a Grizzly Bear and her three cubs. Beautiful mountain ranges, but no Mt. McKinley, the weather was bad. We learned that only 25 % of the people that visit Alaska get to see the mountain. We got out of the park by 10:00 pm (still very light out). We stayed at the McKinley Village Lodge, it was beautifully set on the Nenna River, best night sleep up to this point. Day Four - We had the morning to do any number of excursions of our choice, we chose to take it easy and enjoy the ground and walk by the river. One thing Celebrity does is keep you going. Some of the people on our tour went rafting and they loved it. Back on the Wilderness Express by 12 noon. Had a great lunch in the dining car. Again the scenery to Talkeetna was beautiful. We arrived at the Talkeetna Alaskan lodge around 4:00 pm. One of my favorite places. The flowers on the lodges grounds were amazing. We were scheduled to do a helicopter ride and glacier landing around Mount McKinley, but the weather was bad so it was canceled. We took a hike around the lodge and then walked into town. The town is not very big but very quaint. The TV show Northern Exposure was set on this town. The lodge has this beautiful 45 foot stone fireplace which is where we ended another great day. Day Five - On the coach (don't ever call it a bus, it's not a bus it's a coach) by 11:00 am. We headed for Anchorage. Again the scenery is too beautiful to waste on a nap, and I did not want to miss anything. We made a quick stop at the Iditorod headquarters. We saw some puppies there which we got to pet, also for $5 you could take a very, very short ride on a dog sled (not really it was a ATV being pulled by the dogs) but it looked fun. Arrived in Anchorage around 2:00 pm. Again, we had time to explore the town before we got picked-up at 4:00 pm, to be dropped of at the Marriott. Very nice hotel in the middle of downtown overlooking Cook Inlet. Great view. We took a long walk (about 6 miles) on the Costal Trail, saw a fox, came real close to him to take a picture, and he just sat there, I was a bit shocked. Some other people told us they saw a moose on the trail but we never did see it. Anchorage is a very nice city but everything shuts down at 10:00 pm, coming from Orlando it's way too early for us. Day Six - We were back on the coach by 8:00 am. We did a tour of Anchorage for about 45 minutes. Then we visited the Alaskan Native Heritage Center. We learned about many native cultures that are around Alaska. I was not much into it but most people enjoyed it. Then came the drive to Gridwood to the Alyeska Prince Hotel. What a beautiful scenic ride along the inlet, down the Turnagain arm and the Chugach Mountains. We arrived at the Prince Hotel around 3:30 pm, at 4:00 pm, we were scheduled to do an excursion, kayaking in Prince William Sound. Sadly the weather at Whittier was bad so we had to cancel, luckily for us we were able to do it the next day. The hotel is a beautiful resort set at the bottom of the mountain with spectacular views. There is also a tram that went up the mountain, which we took up a couple of times. The views from up there were breathtaking. There was also a very nice restaurant up there, we didn't get to eat there but some of our tour companions did and loved it. We ended the evening at the one of the two fireplaces the resort had. Day Seven - We started the day in a rush, since we missed our kayaking trip the day before, we were able to do it this morning. A van from the tour company picked us up at the hotel and rushed us to Whittier. There is only one way in and out of Whittier and that's through the tunnel. Cars and the train share this tunnel, and if we had missed a certain time we would have missed the kayaking. But we made it. The kayaking was ok. We were expecting to see wildlife, but we didn't see anything but birds, plus it rained almost the whole time, but we had the experience. We would have liked to see more of Whittier, and we had the time, but since it was raining we decided to get back to the hotel. Back on the coach and on our way to Seward we stopped at Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center to get close up pictures of the wildlife we did not see in the wild. The drive from Gridwood to Seward was the most beautiful drive we had taken so far, we rode along the Six Mile River ( I think). We saw some bears on the side of the road. Very exciting! You could start to see changes in the landscape the further south we went. We stopped at a scenic spot so we could take pictures of the whole group, which by the way there were only 28 of us, very good number, everyone in the group was very nice. We made some good friends. We found a lady at the scenic spot to take our pictures, she took pictures with everyone's camera, her dog is in all the pictures. We also took pictures of our tour guide, Bryn and coach driver, Billy. Finally we were getting on the ship! Recaps on the Land Tour Coming from the East Coast not only was the time change was a bit rough on us, but the constant daylight was hard to adjust too also. The first couple of nights it was hard to stay up so late, but we were told it is better to do that so you can readjust your body to the time change. Tour guide--Bryn, (for those of you getting ready to take this tour) is the guide to get. She is young, fun and very knowledgeable about her homeland. She made the trip interesting and humorous. Billy, our coach driver, had great timing, he also had great tunes on the coach. He and Bryn work well together. Food--We were on our own for food for the first seven days of the tour. Be ready to spend a lot of money. Food is very expensive, and we knew that going in, so we took lots of trail mix and protein bars so we could snack on. The best thing was the water. Coming from Florida where we have to buy water, it was the best tap water we've ever had. Celebrity--The whole trip was very organized and very well planned. We were as busy or as laid back as we wanted to be. Lots of options for tour excursions on the land tour, more than I expected. The hotels that were chosen were great, we never had a bad experience with any of the rooms that we stayed in. One thing I loved about the hotels we stayed at was the they are very much into the environment, if you wanted to reuse your towel, all you had to do was hang it up. It saves water. The only thing we did not enjoy about the land tour was packing and unpacking every day. Every morning our bags had to be out either by 6:00 am or 9:00 am depending on what time we left that town. But it was unavoidable. I would do this tour again if Celebrity had someone packing and unpacking my bags everyday (LOL). Alaska Interior--It was the most beautiful and spectacular place that I have ever seen. The flora is incredible, I must have taken a picture of every flower I saw between Fairbanks and Seward, but what the heck it's only film (no digital pictures for me). After all we packed 56 rolls of film. I hope we get to go back soon, there is lots of things and places we didn't get to do and see due to the time schedule, but we will return, (when we get the kid of to college) maybe in an RV. We went to Alaska with an opened mind, spent a lot of time reading this board, and everybody had only good things to say about it. We also knew that due to the weather we might not get to do and see certain things, so when we didn't, we weren't too disappointed, and going in with that attitude helped us have a great time. Now onto the cruise. Day Seven - Before we got off the coach our tour guide gave us our pre-registered package, which included our room keys. We boarded the ship around 4:00 pm. Since we where pre-registered all we did was go thru security. We had our picture taken (smile) and we were on board. Once on board we got our champagne and we were escorted to our room (we've cruise before, and never have we been escorted to our room). I'm liking this. Our luggage was in our room already (very impressive). Peter, our room attendant was there to great us and to go over things with us, he was great throughout the trip. We were very hungry because we had missed lunch, so we headed to the dining room, which started serving at 4:00 pm. Great dinner. Back to the room to unpack. After packing and unpacking for the last 6 days it was nice to know our bags weren't going any where for the next 7 days. We did a small tour of the ship, and retired early. After all tomorrow is another day! Day Eight - We finally get to sleep in. Yeah! We got to relax a bit this morning. At 11:00 am we were invited to an Anniversary, Newlywed Party. (Did I mention that it was our 25th wedding anniversary?). It was a nice gathering with champagne and wedding cake, they also had a photographer there to take our picture, it was short and very nice. Also at 1:30 pm, Celebrity scheduled our Cruise Critic get-together, bad timing, we were just about to get to Hubbard Glacier and everyone was anxious to get on deck, unfortunately we did not get to spend enough time with the group. Hubbard Glacier! What a spectacular show. We had a front row seat, we had a verandah room, but we also went up to the top deck to get the feel of the whole experience. The waiters came around with some hot pea soup in a bread bowl. Very cute. They also, were selling hot chocolate in a mug. The hot chocolate was very good, it was dark chocolate. Tonight was the first of two formal nights. Every one looked great, except I was expecting people to dress-up a bit more than I saw, still very nice. Tomorrow onto Juneau. Day Nine - Juneau, the weather was overcast this day, but still very pleasant. We went up the Mt. Roberts Tram for a quick peak at Juneau from above, great view. Came back down and took a bus (five dollars each way) to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful, and by the time we got there the weather was very nice. We took a short hike to the water fall and got as close as we could get to the glacier. Back to town for some shopping and a stop at the Red Dog Saloon. We did the evening Whale Quest (through Celebrity). We were taken to Auke Bay, about 20 minutes out of town, where we got on a powered catamaran, very cool. We had a very nice buffet set up for us, something we were not expecting. It was beautiful, we saw lots of Humpback whales and a few seals, something we didn't get to see too many of. There was a naturalist onboard which made it even better. We had a wonderful time. Juneau was a nice port, would like to visit there with more time. Day 10 - Skagway, first thing we did was get on board the White Pass Scenic Railway. Three hours of nothing but beautiful scenery. Everyone kept telling us to sit on the left side of the train, but it didn't matter because we booked thru Celebrity and the first three cars were reserved for Celebrity passengers and on our car there was hardly anyone in it. It was great, I spent most of the time on the observation deck taking pictures. Bring gloves because as you get closer and closer to the summit it gets colder and colder. Skagway is a very busy port, the day we were there their was three ships in port. It was wall to wall people which is not my favorite thing. We went in the Red Onion Saloon. My husband had his picture taken with the Girls. I felt like I was back in the times of Deadwood (a show on HBO). Not enough. time to do everything we wanted to do so we will have to go back, oh well. Day 11 - Icy Strait Point, I think this new port was my favorite of all the ports. It's unspoiled by all the commercial stuff of the bigger ports (did I mentioned that I hate shopping?). It's a simple and beautiful place. We had to take a tender into port, which wasn't as bad as other tenders that I've taken. While we walked along the beach we saw a whale swim by, we heard it before we saw it which was very exciting. The trails there are not to be missed, they are incredible, so take the time to do at least a short walk through the woods. We walked about a mile and a half in to town, saw tons of eagles. It was great, you really get the feel of the people in the town. For you shoppers there are some stores very nicely done in a fishing village setting very quaint. By far the most true Alaska we had seen since we left the interior. Don't miss it. We left Icy Strait at 4:00 pm, this was the second formal evening. Very nice evening, the dining room staff did the a Baked Alaska Parade. Onto the next port. Day 12 -Ketchikan, we got off the ship very early this morning, we were going to see the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show at 9:30 am. We had a blast! At first I did not want to do this show, but my husband said it would be fun, sure enough he was right, it's a family oriented show and the audience gets very involved in it, great show. In the afternoon we went snorkeling, yes you read right, my husband once again talked me into doing this great excursion. I've never worn a wet suite before, I had some experience getting into that wet suit, (I'm a bit phobic). It was beautiful, we got to see lots of star fish, sea urchins and something I never heard off, sea cucumbers. It was a guided tour and they were great, I highly recommend doing it, (by the way it was booked thru the ship). We toured the town for a bit and did some shopping against my will. Day 13 - Inside Passage, we had breakfast in the room and sat on the veranda for most of the morning. The Inside Passage is a very beautiful and picturesque sail. We did all our packing early, so we could enjoy the rest of the day and evening without worrying about the nasty task. It was 89 degrees on this day, lots of people by the pools, no hot chocolate man today, only Pina Coladas. By the way I forgot to mention that every time you came back to the ship from a port there was a crew member with a hot chocolate table, a very nice touch, specially on those days that were cold or rainy. The evening dinner was spent saying good-byes and exchanging e-mail addresses of those we met along the way. Until next trip. Recap The Ship - The smallest ship we have been on, it was the perfect size. It took us a while to find our way around (me longer of course) but over all it's a beautiful ship with lots of great amenities. We were very happy with all of the service that we got on the ship, from all the food staff to our room attendants. We were very happy with our room attendant and the service that he provided for us, we were kind of messy at times. All the crew members that we encountered were very friendly and courteous. The Food - Excellent, everything from the main dinning room to the pasta bar and all the other buffets it was all very good. We especially enjoy the pizza and burger bar, many days we came back to the ship after lunch and enjoyed having those yummy turkey burgers. Oh, and my husband loved having ice cream twice a day. Alaska is a beautiful and great place to visit. We are glad that we did the land tour before the cruise, because you get to see the true Alaska. The cruise was great doing it on the last week, it gave us a chance to recuperate from a very active week. Take lots of film, I shot 38 rolls of film, hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll have the pictures ready to post. Overall we had a wonderful trip, everything that we expected, and more. We had great weather, everything from rain, sunshine, cold and hot, everything you could experience. We met great people that were traveling with us. Celebrity treated us like celebrities. We would sail with them again in the future. You ask three people about the same trip and most of the time you 're going to get three different opinions. It's what you make of it that counts, for us, on this special occasion, it was the best. We thank God for all the blessings in our lives. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
My husband and I traveled with our 2 year old daughter in our room, with his parents across the hall. The staff was very accomodating with our needs, even bringing us a second crib choice. We used the onboard babysitting while the baby ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with our 2 year old daughter in our room, with his parents across the hall. The staff was very accomodating with our needs, even bringing us a second crib choice. We used the onboard babysitting while the baby slept and we went to late seating. It worked out so well. The wait staff was extremely attentive and helpful during meals and the food was outstanding. I highly recommend the 191 square foot or larger suite if traveling with a young child, the extra space was necessary. Overall food experience was outstanding, we learned to rely on our waiter's top picks for both entree and desert. The spa was exceptional and the therapy pools were quiet and a childless haven when the baby was with grandma. My sister brought her 5 year old son and he could not wait to go to the Fun Factory every day, very high reviews there. After the cruise the baby went home with grandma and we went on the land tour (tour 17). The most amazing thing was the organized departure from the boat and lack of baggage handing by us. We did the land tour and never handled our luggage except for putting them out our hotel door at a specified time. We saw other tour groups (not Celebrity) handling their own bags. Compared to other cruise lines, we found the clientele more sophisticated and savvy. We found the staff on the ship to be extremely professional and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
I would like to return the favor to the many Cruise Critic members who helped me to decide which cruise to take. I am sure glad that I did take the advice, and would encourage everyone considering a cruise to do your research and find the ... Read More
I would like to return the favor to the many Cruise Critic members who helped me to decide which cruise to take. I am sure glad that I did take the advice, and would encourage everyone considering a cruise to do your research and find the ship that meets your needs. My wife and I were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary and decided to take a first trip without the kids. Alaska was the chosen destination, so I set about doing the research. Summit was highly recommended due to its level of service, and everything written was true. We found very little lacking, and have lots of good things to say about our experience. Even the most mundane things about a cruise can turn out to be fun, if you let them. We met a couple at the Lifeboat drill and made fast friends with them. Another cruiser got us all laughing when she coined a nickname for herself as "Sponge Barb- Square Boobs" in reference to her fashion statement in the life jacket. We found the food to be well above average. We eat out frequently, and the food was at the top end of the restaurants that we frequent. There was a selection of Fish, Poultry, Pasta, Beef and Variety at every dinner, so everyone could find something good to eat. The only disappointing dinner I had was a fancy version of a pork chop that was a bit on the dry side. We had hoped to be able to order Lobster more often, but it was offered only on the formal night. The chilled fruit soups that I had read about were just as good as advertised! The salads were terrific, and the main courses with the one exception were excellent. I am not much of a "fancy" sweet eater, but my wife certainly enjoyed the desserts (plural). The service was very good. Christian (from Chile) was our Waiter, and Serkan (from Turkey) was the Asst. Waiter. We found them to be a good blend. Christian was obviously formally trained and very efficient, but Serkan provided the comedy and made for great conversation night after night. The meals were served in a timely manner, and the presentation was terrific. The entertainment was inconsistent. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were well beyond the "high school cabaret" that I have seen written up here before. There were some very strong voices amongst the singers, and the dancers were obviously well trained. The Impersonator, Paul Boland, that was on the ship was very good, and had the audience participation that a good entertainer can get. The comic (name forgotten) was using cast off jokes from Henny Youngman and we almost got up and walked out. The only saving grace was that he kept the show clean. I attended a couple of the lectures, and wasn't too excited about them. I am a big US history fan, and was excited to attend a lecture about US presidents but the Political Science Professor giving the lecture frankly wasn't very well prepared. The Naturalist that gave a talk about the wildlife wasn't a very good speaker, and we didn't bother attending a 2nd one of his lectures. Simon Weir, the Cruise Director, was everything he was billed to be. I didn't have that much energy when I was 10 years old and had eaten 5 chocolate bars and drank two Cokes. He was always on the top of his game! The room that we had was about what we expected. Our attendant- Edwin- always had it prepared whenever we returned to the room. There was a glass coffee table that we really didn't want to be tripping over, so he simply moved it out on to the balcony where it fit perfectly. The only concern we had, and we can't prove anything, is that my wife had put some earrings in the safe in the room. When we returned to the room they were pinned to a note on the desk saying that they had been found on the floor. Nothing missing, but my wife is a very organized person and is convinced that someone went in to the safe and then returned the earrings in order to get a bigger tip......Just too much of a coincidence since the backings of the earrings were locked up......and what are the chances to dropping two earrings? The ship itself was gorgeous. We met for drinks with our new friends each night in the Rendezvous Lounge before dinner. By midweek the waitress knew us by name, and knew what we would be drinking without being prompted. Since we are not big drinkers that truly was the first time I felt like Norm going into Cheers! We didn't get involved in any of the social events so I can't speak to those, and we mainly booked our own shore excursions as per the recommendations I got from Cruise Critics' Ports of Call bulletin board rather than booking through the ship. We thoroughly enjoyed Ketchikan, Icy Straits Point and especially Skagway. Juneau was somewhat disappointing- except for a bus tour out to Mendenhall Glacier on the MGT tour bus that was driven by a local gal (Kathleen) that gave us lots of good insights. Mendenhall Glacier was part of that tour, and it was awe inspiring. However I wasn't inspired enough to join the kids who went swimming in the lake from the runoff! Talk about a Kodak moment. Ketchikan was visited on the 4th of July, so many of the shops were closing for the big parade that afternoon. Celebrity even entered a float in the parade, and boy were the crew members having fun on that one. We took a flightseeing tour (independently) through Southeast Aviation and felt that it was a great deal.....especially when using the 2 for 1 coupon in the Toursaver book. We then sat up on our balcony and watched the parade go by on the main street of the town. Shops closed down early- but that is the spirit of a small town and we loved that touch. We also found that the prices in Ketchikan were the best of all the stops on the cruise....but didn't buy enough stuff there and ended up paying more later. The White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway was my favorite shore excursion- and yes it does make a difference to sit on the left side of the train on the way up the mountain! What beautiful views, and lots of history involved. Be sure to take a camera along. The Red Onion (or was it Dog?) Saloon was very cute. They offered tours of the old brothel upstairs with the waitresses all dressed up as "Sporting Women" for the bargain price of $5 for 15 minutes- the same as in 1898. Icy Straits Point is a new stop for Celebrity. The locals there are very enthusiastic about having the tourists, and at the same time are keeping the island from just being a tourist trap. We took a long walk through a spruce forest and along the tidal pools along the beach and then took a shuttle bus into town. If you are into seeing bald eagles- this was the best spot we found in the harbor in the town of Hoonah near the fishing boats. Icy Straits Point is a beautiful area and unspoiled by the commercialism that you see at so many other ports. (Diamonds International hasn't arrived) We also enjoyed Seward after finishing the cruise. The Kenai Fjords tour through Alaska Heritage Tours was excellent. We say plenty of wildlife on our 8 hour excursion that included dinner at Fox Island. The only thing we were somewhat surprised by was the constant hawking of shopping bargains that were set up by Celebrity. They even had a designated "shopping guru" that gave seminars and obviously was getting a kickback from the local stores for pointing cruisers their way. You had to walk through 4 blocks of tourist traps in Juneau before you could see anything else. All in all we were very pleased with our first cruise, and will return to cruising again in the future. Can't say it is the only way to travel, but Celebrity and the Summit certainly earned future business from us. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
Introduction: This was our second cruise aboard a Celebrity Ship and was looking forward to a "different" type of cruise. For those thinking about Alaska, know that an Alaskan cruise is not for you if you are looking for a ... Read More
Introduction: This was our second cruise aboard a Celebrity Ship and was looking forward to a "different" type of cruise. For those thinking about Alaska, know that an Alaskan cruise is not for you if you are looking for a relaxing type of vacation typical of a Caribbean or Mexican cruise. The tours are longer and the weather is usually cool (mid to lower 60s) and damp (good chance of clouds and light rain). While the ship does have a lovely indoor area with its own swimming pool, saunas and deck chairs, there is little time to relax because Alaska is a sightseeing destination (unlike the Caribbean and Mexico where ports are generally the same). Embarkation: Celebrity needs to work on this. We took the train from Anchorage to Seward (about 130 miles) and while the train personnel did take our luggage to the ship, most if not all passengers had to walk the mile from the train to the ship. Seward has about three taxis. Walking to the ship was an adventure. There were no directional signs and the area where the ship was located had a cinder parking lot full of potholes filled with water. My carry-ons took a beating. I would recommend taking the train from Anchorage. It is a beautiful ride through the Kenai National Park, You can have breakfast on board - with their famous reindeer sausage. The sausage was very good but I had this continuing urge to sing Christmas songs (Sorry - My attempt at humor). Getting on board was very easy and fast. I would suggest you fill out your paperwork before you leave home and have your birth certificate/passport and picture ID ready when you arrive at embarkation. It also helped that those on the train were the first passengers to arrive at the ship. The ship: Very lovely and clean. You board amidship, third deck. Since you arrive before your luggage, take a walk around and get familiar with the amenities and locations of such places as the dinning room, spa, night club, and your cabin. Cabin: Clean, but surprisingly had less storage space than I am use to on a Celebrity ship. This might be due to the type of clothes that needs to be taken on an Alaskan cruise. They tend to be bulkier and probably took more room than usual cruise clothing. Cabin attendant was very nice and was readily available. We did have problems with our safe and had to call for help on three separate occasions to have the safe opened. On all three occasions it took a long time for ship personnel to arrive. We almost missed one of our tours because it took nearly 1/2 hour for someone to come. Food: As I said this was our second experience aboard a Celebrity ship and, once again, we were disappointed. Celebrity has a reputation for their outstanding cuisine. The food was just OK. Not that the food was not good, but it was nothing special. In fact, on two occasions I sent back my entree. The breakfasts were plentiful and the lunches were adequate, but, once again, nothing to write home about. One segment of the food was terrific. Every evening they had a Sushi bar. I strongly recommend it. It was some of the best I've ever eaten. Service: Very good. Always available. Met our needs. Entertainment: Outstanding. Night club shows were great. Comedian was very funny. Daily activities were wonderful. There was so much to do that we had to choose one activity we wanted to do over the other. Shopping: Anyone who says there is no shopping in Alaska is uninformed. Imagine getting off the ship and seeing Little Switzerland, Caribbean Gems, and Del Sol in every port! It was like coming home. I call Alaska St. Thomas with jackets and sales tax. Trust me - there's plenty of shopping. Ports: Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Hatchery were very interesting. Also recommended is the a tram to the top of the mountain overlooking the city and bay. The tram is less than a 1/4 mile off the ship. Easy walk. Hubbard Glacier/Glacier Bay: Outstanding. One of the highlights of the trip. This was one of our sunnier days. The mountains, ice flows and glacier were magnificent. The ship was able to get close to the glacier. I can only say - absolutely amazing. The ship allowed passengers to view the glacier from the helicopter pad located on the front of the ship. Take advantage. It afforded you a wonderful view. Skagway: To me this was the highlight of the trip. The history of the Klondike is told through the historical maintenance of the buildings, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, the Red Dog Saloon (and brothel), and the people living there. Don't miss the small Klondike museum located in the railroad station and be sure to take a tour of the Red Dog Saloon's brothel - no its not currently in use. While we took the railroad to the top of White Pass, our friends hired a local taxi driver who took them along the White Pass trail by car. They had the advantage of periodically stopping, and getting out of the car to view the various highlights along the road to the top. The history of the Klondike is fascinating. Don't miss it! Icy Straits: This was advertised as an opportunity for visitors to see how native Alaskans live unspoiled by commercialism. As you disembark from the tender, the first thing you see is the "native" souvenir shop with soap imported from China and baseball caps with Icy Straits on the brim. It does have a lovely trail through a tall pine forest, but that's about it unless you want to pay $70 per person to see Indian dances. Ketchikan: St. Thomas of the north! Never saw so many stores since we were in St. Amelia. We probably had the most fun here. We got off the ship and saw a taxi with the sign "affordable tours". Yes that was the spelling. We looked inside and I swear the driver was a reincarnation of Gabby Hayes - crumpled hat, white beard and all. He took us all around the town and showed some fascinating places. Was terrific. Vancouver: One of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Took the double decker bus all around the city. Be sure to stop at Stanley Park and the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden. When planning your trip be sure to stay at least two days so you can see the entire city and travel to Victoria to see the gardens. Disembarkation: Typical. The evening before you are given colored tags to place on your luggage. You wait in a designated area for your color to be called and then you stand in a long line and wait. Vancouver has a very modern and large embarkation building so finding your luggage was easy. By the way, unlike most destinations, luggage carts are free. Take advantage. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
We did the Summit Alaska gulf cruise 7/04 and can only sum it up in one word - Wow! We've taken 4 other cruises but this was our first to Alaska and our first on Celebrity. The sum of the parts were greater than the whole, and since ... Read More
We did the Summit Alaska gulf cruise 7/04 and can only sum it up in one word - Wow! We've taken 4 other cruises but this was our first to Alaska and our first on Celebrity. The sum of the parts were greater than the whole, and since the parts were all excellent, the whole was inevitably grand. On embarkation in Seward, we were greeted in the 'grand foyer' by dozens of suited attendants offering trays of champagne and mimosas as one personally escorted us to our cabin, an inside cabin which was sufficient in space and amenities- much preferable to wandering down neverending corridors trying to find our cabin. This personal touch set the stage for our entire week on the Summit. With 1900 passengers and over 900 staff members, your every need is met with anticipation by a nearby attendant. The vistas were a constant unfolding of nature's grandeur as we visited the quaint ports of call. We admired the array of original artwork onboard in the public areas; the meals and service were outstanding. We particularly enjoyed the (included) room service, starting each day with coffee and croissants in bed. Our 11-year old loved the kid's program, giving us some much-needed time alone and keeping her entertained. We liked the age bracket for her group; there were 55 kids in her group age 10-12, though they were rarely seen or heard! We didn't plan excursions in advance but recommended it since many were sold out; however, we arranged our own 'tours' at the ports and were charmed by the Alaskan residents who are friendly, helpful, and still maintain that Pioneer spirit. There were too many niceties to list, like hot chocolate offered at every port of call, the free thalassotherapy pool, robes in our cabin, and a smooth, speakerless debarkation in Vancouver. We were sorry to see our days of being treated like 'celebrities' end and now that we're back to reality, we truly do feel like the commercials say: "This is a temporary exile..." Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
To return the favor to those cruisecritic members who were so helpful to me I wanted to "pass it on" to those of you who are just now beginning to plan your cruise of a lifetime! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our cruise ... Read More
To return the favor to those cruisecritic members who were so helpful to me I wanted to "pass it on" to those of you who are just now beginning to plan your cruise of a lifetime! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our cruise of the inside passage from Seward to Vancouver on the beautiful Summit. Thanks to others suggestions, we chose the Celebrity Suite which was really unbelievable. The "window wall" offered an unparalleled view each day of the fantastic sites of this beautiful area of the world. In fact not having the balcony seemed to us almost a blessing as our view was unobstructed by a balcony wall. And if we wanted to be outside there were so many options on the decks that we never missed an outside balcony. This was one thing I had worried about as I have always enjoyed the balcony suites on other ships. But the Celebrity Suite has won my heart now! The separate bedroom was a delight, along with the jetted tub in the bathroom. (I will share one negative in case some of you have difficulty in getting in to a tub) The bathtub in the Celebrity suite is quite deep because it has the jets. But this makes it quite high when you are trying to get in and out of it. The shower is also in the tub so it is necessary to climb in for either a shower or a bath. This could present a problem to some. But that is my ONLY negative (slightly) comment about the whole trip. The staff was incredible. The food outstanding. We did prefer the dining room to the buffet though as it had a better quality. And be sure to book dinner in the Normandie for a real treat. We so enjoyed our evening there with every detail of fine dining attended to. The Summit is a beautiful ship in so many ways that it is difficult to say what we enjoyed the most. My husband would vote for the Golf Simulator as he thoroughly enjoyed his time there. But I would honestly say that I enjoyed our suite the very most. We had wanted some relaxing down time and the suite truly offered us the space to do just that. We had breakfast in our room most mornings. (Food was delivered on time and hot too!) Sitting there watching those views while enjoying a beautiful breakfast was a real treat for us. The CD player (library of CD's available too) added even more. We also enjoyed the in suite computer as we had needed to stay in touch with our office each day. Every afternoon the butler brought by afternoon finger sandwiches, cookies, and coffee, tea, or even cappuccino. And then just before dinner he came back with some appetizers!!! The staff was very present to your needs, but not "in the way". We simply loved it all! Be sure to visit the Revelations lounge on the 11th floor for the most outstanding views. We especially enjoyed rising early (5 am) on the last day (thanks to a cruise critic member suggestion) to watch the Summit cruise in to Vancouver!! You would really miss something if you didn't see that. We also truly enjoyed the newest stop on the Summits list at "Icy Straight". What a delightful place! Take the walk through the beautiful pine forest and stop and sit a while on a bench along the shore to watch the whales swim right past you!!! The local Alaskans that work there are a real delight to visit with also. Icy Straight offers you a taste of true Alaska. We loved it! We had chosen not to do any shore excursions during our Summit cruise. We know that most people totally enjoy those and say that you do not get a true Alaskan experience without them. We beg to disagree! While we know that we might have thoroughly enjoyed doing some of them, we needed the "down time" from our busy lives more. We had chosen instead to do a pre cruise 6 hour "day cruise" of Prince William Sound out of Wittier the day before our Summit Cruise. (Beautiful!!! We saw 13 glaciers and all kinds of wildlife!!) (another cruise critic member suggestion!!) And then a post cruise 2 day train trip on the Rocky Mountain Railroad from Vancouver to Banf. (Absolutely fantastic. Be sure to choose the Gold Leaf Service!!!) This proved (for us) to be a good decision. We still enjoyed so much and not rushing off to do each days excursion during our 7 day cruise gave us time to really just enjoy what we were seeing. A cruise can be exhausting IF you don't take time to be still too! I just wanted to add this comment for those of you that are planning your trip. Do not worry about trying to fit everything in. Take time to just enjoy whatever you do plan to do. You will find that actually that seems to be the lesson that the Alaskans that you meet will teach you. They have a very laid back way of life. They enjoy the simple things like the beauty of the wildlife, the mountain views, the moving water, and especially in summer...their beautiful flowers! And nothing brings a smile to their faces more than seeing the cruise ships come in to their town! Alaska is wonderful in so many ways. But cruising with Celebrity on the Summit made it almost seem like a dream! We give Celebrity a "standing ovation"!!! Tell Mr. Elias (the Hotel Director on the Summit) hello for us. We were privileged to be invited to sit at his table one of the formal nights. Talking with him about his job and his love of customer service on the Summit revealed to us why his staff seems to care so much!!! Enjoy your coming cruise on the Summit. You are in for a real treat!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
This was our first cruise which happened at the end of a three week holiday in Alaska, where we had spent time in Vancouver, then Talkeetna and hiking, then Seward. We is me, my husband, Alan, and 12 year old daughter, Kate. I tried to ... Read More
This was our first cruise which happened at the end of a three week holiday in Alaska, where we had spent time in Vancouver, then Talkeetna and hiking, then Seward. We is me, my husband, Alan, and 12 year old daughter, Kate. I tried to separate the review into sections to make it easier to read. EMBARKATION DAY We embarked in Seward, and that morning, had walked around Resurrection Bay to see if we could see the Summit. It was a very cloudy morning, but as we walked, the Celebrity X was just visible through the cloud. Over the next 5-10 minutes, the ship became visible, and I figured that this cruise was about to become a reality. We arrived at the pier at around 11am, since our hotel offered us a ride on their 10.30am shuttle. The terminal was almost empty, and Celebrity staff were still setting up. Being a total novice, I checked about process, and we settled down to wait. Some folks near us had just got off the Summit, and told us we were in for a treat. Good news. While we were waiting, we noticed tables being set up for children, so checked that out, and it was a registration process for kids 12 and under who were all give a wrist band with their muster station on it - a good idea. After not too long, check-in was open, and it took all of five minutes. We had completed on documentation on-line, so it was handing over the SeaPass cards and we were off. The welcome aboard photo I knew about from Cruise Critic, the security photo, and we were on board. Welcome aboard drinks were offered, but cabins weren't ready - we were on board just before 12 noon, and cabins were ready at 1pm. So, we made our way to the Waterfall Cafe for the buffet lunch which also wasn't ready. We were very early!!! We found a spot by the window and before long were eating our first Celebrity meal, which was just as wonderful as I'd read about. At 1pm, we found our cabin - 8049 - and, again thanks to all the photos and reviews I'd read, there were no surprises. It was only a tiny bit smaller than the hotel room we'd had the night before, so I was pretty happy. We sorted things out, unpacked, got our shore excursion tickets and dinner seating, Cruise Critic Party time and venue, and just relaxed. Pinto, our cabin steward, appeared to say hello just before we headed off to explore the ship, and to sort out Ship-at-Sea connection, so we could use the internet in our cabin (the cost was $25/day which included 50 minutes time - this was just about enough for us, but if we went over, we were charged 70c/minute. Very simple to set up, although the length of the telephone cord needs to be increased to avoid falling over cords - the phone is on the opposite wall to the desk). As we wandered around the ship, it felt like I knew where I was going, but it did take me a while to get aft and forward directions imprinted in my brain! We checked out the spa because my husband wanted to use the gym, and wanted a haircut. They could fit him in that afternoon - amazing - and his hair was cut by an Australian woman who lived about an hour or so from Melbourne where we live. It is a small world! The haircut cost $USD 27.50 which, with the exchange rate, is about what you pay here in a mid-range salon. Our bon voyage gifts arrived in the afternoon - I got flowers which were just gorgeous, got Kate (daughter) a sail-away package which was good, and some casino credit for my husband. I had to chase up the sail-away package when it didn't arrive with the other two, but it turned up pretty quickly. On the last evening of the cruise though, I had to sign for the flower and the sailaway package which was a bit odd - why not sign for them when they are delivered? The casino credit was signed for when used (we didn't use it till about day 5 of the cruise; someone rang our cabin to find out why we hadn't used it yet, so we thought we'd better!). Two of our bags arrived in mid afternoon, the other arrived early evening when we got back from dinner. Dinner was casual (we had main seating), open seating. We had a table for four, just near the Captain's table which was great. Had a wonderful dinner and some wine, and headed back to the cabin. There was a message waiting for us from Ossoach, one of the folks I'd been talking with on the CC roll call, so we went off to meet them for a drink before their dinner. After that, we headed back to the cabin, and watched sail away from our verandah. Then, headed to bed. A wonderful first day. CABIN I won't say to much about the cabin, because there's nothing new to add to what I learned on CC boards and the various websites. It was just fine. The constant changing of towels is interesting though, because (like most hotels) the explicit statement is that they are interested in the environment, but they remove towels after one use - not really necessary. We also couldn't find the 'do not disturb' sign which would have been useful once, but we didn't bother with chasing it up in the end. The verandah was great; I used it the most and loved just sitting and watching the world go by - very relaxing. There wasn't much room when the sofa bed was extended, but that was no drama either; we just put it back ourselves if we needed to. We did feel pressure to get out of the cabin every morning so that it could be cleaned which is okay, but I would have liked to be able to just sleep in, and hang around, on one of the sea days. That was the day I looked for the Do Not Disturb sign. In the end, we just headed out to do some stuff on the ship. DINING AND STAFF I've already mentioned that the food was great and lived up to my expectations. The only time I was disappointed was when a lasagna from the buffet was a bit cold. We ate in the Waterfall Cafe for breakfast - the omelettes and waffles are definitely worth having - and for lunch. We did casual dining on the first formal night and had a great time - the staff there were fantastic. They suggest a $2 tip each, but we ended up giving them more because we had such a good time. I think this was the day we saw dolphins swimming in the wake of the ship, and our waiters told us to come back when we were in Skagway, because it was a prime whale watching position, and we could watch whales as we left Skagway. The main dining room waiters, Ben and Baris were fantastic, and our bar attendant, Richard from Jamaica, was the best. After the first dinner there, we never had to ask for anything again - Kate's drinks appeared every night without asking; my tea brand was remembered; and alternatives suggested if a meal didn't turn out. One night we ended up with an array of desserts to try because everyone on our table liked when everyone else was having. The only issue here was that because we did not order a bottle of wine on the first night, the wine person ignored us the second night, and I had to call him back to make an order - after that he was fine, and we tried some great wines, but he had made an incorrect assumption that first night which was not good. We were seated at a table for 10, with two families from Switzerland. I now wonder if they got Australia mixed up with Austria!! They could speak better English than we could speak German, but together, we managed to have a pretty good time. Kate met Nicole, the daughter of one of the families who was also 12, and they had a good time. Kate even managed to play chess with Nicole's brother, and we generally all had fun trying to communicate without too much confusion. I also bought a soda card which I think was a good value for the money. The mug you get is small, but it was okay - I kept telling myself you need to ration soda anyway, since it's not really good for you. ? We ate in the Aqua Spa Cafe once, which was great; I think we should have eaten there more often, because the amount of food you can consume is pretty amazing. The midnight buffet on the last night was a somewhat surreal experience for me. Our waiters kept talking it up, so we felt like we had to go. So, at 11.45pm, we joined a long queue of people to take photos. I'm not sure why so many people turned up to take photos of food - yes, the ice sculptures and carvings were pretty amazing - but it was food after all? The staff kept people moving, and as unfortunate as it was at the time, it reminded me of the time we had viewed Mao Tse Tung's embalmed body in Beijing - pay due homage and leave quickly. We decided that we should try the buffet, and so we waited and waited until the doors opened around about 12.25am or so, and in we all filed. Put some food on our plate, and were seated at a table for 6. Three folks joined us, but maybe because of the hour or the focus on food, we didn't say much to each other. Some people were piling their plates high with Beef Wellington and the like, and I wondered how they could possibly fit it all in - with the food we had eaten that day, it was all we could do to eat a few morsels. Maybe experienced cruisers can enlighten me about the history of the buffet, but I think this buffet was probably an extravaganza we could do without. ACTIVITIES Kate tried some of the Kids Club activities and enjoyed them. She didn't enjoy having to wear the muster band around her wrist (at 12 she felt she was too old), but she didn't take it off the whole time either. We didn't participate in any organised activities, choosing instead to just 'hang around' and enjoy the whole atmosphere. We did go to the cinema most days, and that was good - the movies were recent releases. Alan used the gym most days, and I used the walking track on Deck 11 on the odd occasion. And we tried out some cocktails! SHOWS My husband went to more shows than I did, and he was pretty impressed with them all. The night I went the ship was rolling a bit, and I did have a bit of trouble staying focused. Might have been all the food I'd just eaten at dinner though ?. It is amazing to see folks dance and sing on a rolling ship - very impressive. TIPPING Since in Australia, tipping is neither the norm nor expected, learning when to tip and how much was pretty important for me. We think we just about got it right during the rest of the holiday, so wanted to make sure we didn't mess up on the ship. I decided to pay the tips on my SeaPass account and that worked well. We gave our cabin steward a bit extra in that process, and found Richard, the bar attendant, on the last night to give him something extra in cash. All seemed to work quite well. In chatting with the Assistant Maitre D' to find out when to give him his voucher, he said he didn't agree with the whole tipping process at all, but still took the tip ?. We wondered often during the whole holiday while the expected tip wasn't included in the price we paid, so that the salaries paid to employees could then be increased by the same amount. It just seems a much simpler way to organise things, but that is my non-tipping background speaking! PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS I'd spent a lot of time deciding what to do in the ports; the exchange rate for the Australian dollar meant the really expensive excursions were out of our price range, but I wanted to make sure we did something memorable. Hubbard Glacier This was memorable. We don't have glaciers in Australia, and every town seems to have one in Alaska! It was fantastic getting closer and closer, moving through the ice, hearing the amazing sound when the glacier calves, sipping hot chocolate (I bought one of the souvenir mugs for $10 or so, including tax, which I then used for tea the rest of the cruise), and generally in awe of the size of it all. I've read that Glacier Bay is better, but for someone who has never seen a glacier of any description, Hubbard Glacier is very impressive. Juneau We did the ship's Wildlife and Whale Watching excursion with Allen Marine which was really good. We got off the ship, saw the bus waiting, got on and headed off to Arun Bay to get on the boats. There were maybe 100 or so people on the boat, but except on top of the boat when the whales were around, it was fine. Even then, folks would let you in to get photos at the rail - all very civilized. The whole thing was 4 hours in total and we saw lots of wildlife and two pods of whales, so it was a success for us. We can see whales close to Melbourne here in Australia, but I had to travel to Alaska to see them for the first time! Skagway There was a moose waiting for us at the bottom of the gangway, so we had our photo taken, just for fun. We did the White Pass railway trip here. Because of the exchange rate, we booked directly with the railway (saved us about $50) so could only get tickets on the 8.15am train, which in the end turned out to be a good thing. We had to get up early though to walk into town to the station and pick up the tickets. The sound system in the station is not all that good, so listen hard or you might miss instructions about where to go. The day we were there, there were lots of groups, and they were sending folks in different directions because there were two trains going at the same time. Ours was the train that was waiting at the dock for the Summit passengers; we picked it up just a bit further down the track, and sat in different carriages to the cruise folks. It was a fun ride and we got some great photos, and worth doing. I have to say though, if folks ever come to Australia, try the railway journey from Cairns to Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands - equally spectacular. Icy Strait Point This is a wonderful little place - the tourist point is set up a little way from the town of Hoonah, and the roads are not paved on the way in. We did a bike ride which was fun, and just the right level of exertion for me - a couple on the ride left half way through, even though the guides asked them not to, because the ride wasn't strenuous enough - they were obviously 'serious' bike riders who wanted to ride rather than see the town and learn a bit more about the area and its people. We rode (8 miles in total) from the dock to the 'international airport' which was an airstrip in a forest - well, not quite - but the most rustic international airport I'd ever seen. Sometimes, the staff have to chase deer off the runway! Back at Icy Strait Point, we had a snack and then headed off to the cultural dancing show, which was really good but, for me, a bit long. The folks here are very friendly and welcoming, and we ended up with three free souvenirs which they were handing out - a woodchip to add to a ceremonial fire, a card with a clan symbol from the cultural show, and a replica coin. ISP is also very different to the other ports we visited, and we liked it. Still lots of tourist shops, but not quite so overwhelmingly tourist. It started to rain while we were waiting for the tender, and we were ushered indoors to stay dry which was nice. The tender line here was very, very long, and it took a long time to get back to the boat. The last tender was scheduled for 2pm; we got on about then, and the line behind us was still huge. We got back on board at 2.20pm in time for lunch at the Waterfall Cafe - which they held open till 3pm because of the delay in getting people on board. We took off as soon as the last tender cleared, and then we sailed very, very fast throughout that night to try and make up time and get to Ketchikan, apparently because the good captain wanted to get a space at the dock rather than have to tender but I have no idea if this was true or not. This was the only night where the ship was rocking because of the speed we were going - walking along the corridors was interesting, and settling to sleep took a bit of adjusting, but we all managed to sleep fine. Next day though, others reported a difficult night. Ketchikan We didn't plan any excursions here, so just slept in and headed off for a walking tour around town (I'd bought the book, Inside Passage Walking Tours by Julianne Chase, which was a good guide). Now, this is the only town where it seemed like tourists were not well liked - the drivers here seemed to make it their job to try and run us over ? No compensations for not knowing where you were going at all! To me, this was the most 'normal' of the ports as well, less like Skagway and Juneau which both seemed to be very focused on the cruise passengers. We visited Creek Street and found the shop Perfect Partners, just up from Dolly's House, which was run by an Australian woman and her partner who spent 6 months in Australia mining opals (which they then sell in Ketchikan) and 6 months running the shop. They make great T-Shirts and aprons, very unique, but sadly have stopped making them because the mass produced variety have made it uneconomical for them to continue. We also stopped by the South East Alaska Visitor Centre which is worth a visit, as is their bookstore where we found some great prints of native totems to take home with us. Inside Passage We woke on the last day at sea, just gently gliding through the inside passage. Very pleasant day amid very pleasant scenery. DISEMBARKING We woke just as we had passed under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, and then slowly made our way to Canada Place to dock. Disembarking was so smooth I couldn't believe it. We got up and had breakfast, then collected our bags and headed to the Rendezvous Lounge at the appointed time (7.55am - we had 1pm flights out to LAX). We waited about 15 minutes, and our colour was called. Headed off the ship and into the room where the luggage was - saw our bags as we came through the door, collected them, made our way to Customs, through that in about 5 minutes, then straight to a taxi and the airport. No problems at all. There were folks in the terminal to give advice and directions as well, so this part worked really well for us. MISCELLANEOUS The muster drill was fun! It was at 10am the second day - the alarms went off, and everyone proceeded to do what they had to do. It took about half an hour, and I didn't see anyone not treating it seriously. I noticed that they put a little red flag up on your cabin door that says 'evacuated' when you leave - all very organised. I was buying our welcome aboard photos one evening; another woman at the counter was speaking VERY loudly to the staff member about her photo processing. The machine had broken down and had been fixed that day, and the woman was being advised that her photos would be ready the next day. She'd obviously waited a day for them, and was saying something like 'are you sure they will be ready because you said that yesterday, and I'm not leaving till I'm sure they will be ready'. Now, this is probably a reasonable request, but she was SO loud and patronising in her tone, I was embarrassed. The staff member was handling it well as I walked away. This was really the only time I heard anyone expressing any sort of displeasure at something on board. I missed our Cruise Critics Connections party because I was in the medical centre getting some pain relief for my back which I'd strained during our hiking trip - it all took a lot longer than I'd expected but the pain relief was worth it! The staff were great (I got the most pain free injection I have ever had in my life there) and the cost was acceptable. We did catch up with Matt (Ossoarch) and his family on the first day of the cruise, and then they graciously invited us to their cabin for drinks on the last evening, which was great. OVERALL I wanted to cruise, my husband didn't, and he is now a convert. We are planning a second cruise. I chose Celebrity in the end because of its reputation for service and we weren't disappointed. Everything on this cruise was wonderful, even when things were only not quite perfect, as opposed to totally perfect (if the latter is actually a state that is possible!). This was a decadent and luxurious experience which was a true vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
My wife, Beth, our daughters Heather, 20, and Hayley, 18, and I were on the July 3 Cruisetour #15 (July 9 sailing of the Summit). Pre-cruise: The limo picked us up at our home at 6:15 Saturday morning. No traffic to the airport and ... Read More
My wife, Beth, our daughters Heather, 20, and Hayley, 18, and I were on the July 3 Cruisetour #15 (July 9 sailing of the Summit). Pre-cruise: The limo picked us up at our home at 6:15 Saturday morning. No traffic to the airport and check-in/security was relatively painless considering this was July Fourth Weekend at LAX. Celebrity had us booked on a "one stop/no change of plane" flight from LAX to Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines, pretty much as good as could be expected, departing 9:30 am...it arrived only 23 minutes behind schedule in Fairbanks at around 4 pm. The Royal Celebrity (as the combined Royal Caribbean/Celebrity tour operation in Alaska is known) personnel were there to meet us near the baggage claim area and led us to a waiting area near their desk while RC tour people found our luggage for us (impressive since we had not yet attached the ship luggage tags). There was a chart showing the names of all the passengers on Tour #15 and to which of the three buses we were assigned. After a short wait, they loaded the entire group of incoming passengers on a bus and delivered us to the Sophie Station hotel where we met our tour director, Sara. There were three buses on this tour, each with about 44-46 passengers, labeled 15A, 15B and 15C. Most of the people on our bus were, I'd guess, in their 50s or 60s. Our kids were the only younger people on the bus. In fact, my wife and I may have been among the younger folks on the bus, but, as one gets older, there's far less difference between 45 and 65. Even still, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves just fine, making friends with all the, ahem, "older folks". Sophie Station Hotel, Fairbanks, looks like an ordinary two-story apartment building both inside and out, but, as a hotel, it works quite nicely. Every room is a suite—with kitchen, living room, balcony and bedroom—so the accommodations were ample. There is a Fred Meyer store (the northwest's equivalent of a Wal-Mart) a block away—also, a Safeway, some fast food places (Quiznos, Taco Bell, Subway). Otherwise, the location is quite ordinary. We ate dinner about two blocks away at The Castle and it was, perhaps, the best meal I had in Alaska. $29.95 for a Seafood Platter with Halibut, LARGE Shrimp and Scallops and the best Crab Legs I can remember. The second day was filled with two included excursions: After a stop to view the Pipeline up close and personal, we headed out to the Eldorado Mine—Rather hokey but fun train ride through a gold mine complete with actors portraying gold miners and culminating in a panning for gold experience that guaranteed everyone at least 8 small grains of gold in their pan. Afterwards, they weighed it for you in the gift shop and sold you a $40 locket and chain to keep it in. Every woman on the bus left with such a locket. Riverboat Discovery—Also somewhat hokey but interesting riverboat tour of Fairbanks ending up at a somewhat staged "Indian Village" with various demonstrations of local culture along the way. However hokey these excursions were, they filled the day and offered photo opportunities and interesting times. Monday, July 5, we departed Fairbanks by train to Denali. The Wilderness Express train is really just two railcars on a long train that also includes similar cars owned by Holland America, Princess and the cars of the Alaska RR itself. I'll assume the HAL and Princess cars are all substantially similar to the Royal Celebrity cars. The cars have two levels: The Glass Dome covered passenger compartment up top with plush comfortable leather seats and ample room to move around and the restaurant section down below. There were more than enough seats for everyone on the top level, but the restaurant had to operate in two shifts. Interestingly enough, the meals in the restaurant were reasonably priced ($8-9 range). We arrived at lunch time at the McKinley Chalets and were on our own for lunch with limited choices. Went to he more casual restaurant in the hotel for a pretty good burger. After lunch, we boarded the infamous school buses for the 7 hour Tundra Wilderness Tour, departing around 4 pm. We got somewhat lucky on the wildlife side as we spotted several caribou, dozens of Dall Sheep, a mother grizzly with three cubs, a moose and a wolf—which actually walked right alongside our bus. Unfortunately, the mountain itself was clouded in with no chance of any kind of view from that side. After that, on to our hotel, the McKinley Village Lodge, which was actually several miles off on its own in the middle of nowhere and somewhat rustic. The next day, Tuesday, July 6 (Of course, with no real night to speak of, it all seemed like the same rather long day), we again boarded the train and headed for Talkeetna. Along this leg, the skies cleared and the scenery was spectacular and we had several clear views of Mt. McKinley from the train. In Talkeetna, we hit the hotel jackpot as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge was downright spectacular. Our rooms had a dynamite view of the Mountain. We took a shuttle into town and had dinner at the local pizza place (there's only one), then returned and watched an amazing sunset over Mt. McKinley (and not a bad sunrise only a few moments later!). Most of the bus was out on the rear patio of the hotel cameras blazing away. From the next day on, it was all Motorcoach (bus) to the ship. In the morning, we boarded the bus (with Sara and our driver, Ryan) for the drive to Anchorage stopping along the way at the Iditerod Headquarters. After a couple of hours on our own to find lunch (Teriyaki Box—eh, you'll get no great recommendation here) and shop, we headed over to our hotel, the Anchorage Marriott Downtown. That night we had a pretty nice dinner at the Glacier Brewing Company. The next day we had our Anchorage City Highlights Tour—the Salmon ladder, the Alaska Native Heritage Center (interesting dance and music presentations and displays) and a lot of driving around town. Then back into downtown for lunch (we went to Humpy's—a local favorite-fish and chips, fish sandwiches, etc. and beer). Thursday night we spent in Girdwood at the Alyeska Prince Resort, another extremely luxurious hotel. We took a shuttle into town (what there was of it) and had a nice steak dinner at the Chair 5 Restaurant. The next morning, we took the included ride up the Gondola to the top of the mountain, then returned to the hotel for lunch. They let us check in for the ship at the hotel that morning, but the bus didn't leave for the ship until 1:30 and stopped at some wildlife zoo for a visit before getting us to the Summit at the rather late hour of 5 pm.  Okay, so now it's Friday Afternoon, July 9 and we finally embark on the Summit…Having checked in earlier at the hotel, the embarkation is easy as we skip right to the security screening…When one of the crew leads us to our cabins, my wife and daughters are somewhat confused. They thought we were in a Cat 4 with the kids across the hall in an inside—but, without their knowing, I switched to a pair of Sky Suites, #6122 and #6124. Imagine their surprise! The suites are nicely appointed and about 1.5 times the size of the "normal" balcony cabins. The walls are wood-paneled, the closet more ample, the bath has marble counters, lots of storage and a full bathtub. Our Butler, Ashwin (from India) comes in to introduce himself and to explain all of the things he can and will do for us. (Afterwards, he does the same in the kids' suite and they immediately order breakfast in the suite for the next day). For us, though, it's a bit of overkill—if that's possible—We have a butler, a Cabin Steward (Gabriella from Hungary) and an Assistant Cabin Steward, Ozy, all practically tripping over each other trying to help us. I rarely opened my own door for 7 days. Champagne was waiting in the rooms twice—on day one and on our anniversary. Every day, Ashwin brought us a basket of fresh fruit, a plate of appetizers and then a plate of pastries/desserts. Anything we could think of was taken care of almost immediately. I always thought the service in the ordinary Celebrity cabins was extraordinary—but, in the suites, it's three giant steps beyond that. Dinner first night was open seating. They gave us a card when we checked in asking that we attend the second shift of open seating at 8:30—which worked out fine with the late hour of our boarding. It gave the girls the chance to head for the spa and make appointments for the week for massages, facials, hair, manicures—none for me, thanks. With the late dinner seating, the show was at 10:45—titled A Night of Stars with the Celebrity singers and dancers. Frankly, it was not their best show. My daughters were highly critical of one of the female singers' vocal abilities. Saturday was an at-sea day—sailing Hubbard Glacier. First, though, a little unfinished business: 10 am, we had the infamous muster drill. Do we ever amass enough points to skip this? Oh well. We did have a busy morning. After the Muster Drill, we had the Cruise Critic Reception at 11:00 and then off to the Anniversaries/Honeymoon Reception at 11:30. Even though we had rather large verandas, my wife wanted to see the glacier from the Heliport. Normally a crew-only area at the front of the ship, they opened it to everyone for the glacier. And what a SPECTACULAR sight. With clear weather and a beautiful day, we sailed into the bay and extremely close to the glacier, an immense wall of blue ice with a large amount of calving (major chunks breaking off and crashing into the sea). The ship spent quite a while turning around in the shadow of this wonder and it was an awesome experience. Dinner was at last our regular seating (Main) and assigned table…Then the Captain's toast—This was the First Formal night. Then the show—AGAIN the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, this time with The Magic of Broadway (a little better than the first night). After the show, we opted to watch the Karaoke. Sunday meant Juneau. We disembarked after breakfast and met the van for our tour right at the pier. We opted to ignore the ship's offerings and went with Coastal Helicopter for their Icefield Glacier Landing Excursion ($180 per person). It was absolutely magnificent. The entire excursion took about three hours with a lot of that in the ride back and forth to the airport. But that flight and Glacier landing made it all worth it. The ship's similar but costlier excursion takes you on a much shorter flight to the closer Hubbard Glacier, but Coastal took us up over some incredible mountains and onto the very upper reaches of Herbert Glacier, to the north of Mendenhall. Two copters with 6 passengers each made the trip and we landed on some incredibly blue ice with unreal views in all directions and walked around the glacier a bit before getting back into the copters for the flight back. On the way back, we jogged over to Mendenhall Glacier and followed virtually its entire length, then over the Mendenhall Valley and back to the airport—probably the highlight of our cruise. Back in Juneau, we wandered the usual array of gift shops and the now-familiar t-shirts, sweatshirts, goofy hats and ulu knives. Then, back to the ship. For the show tonight, they finally made up for the back-to-back singer/dancer shows—they gave us TWO distinct shows, one at 9, the other at 10:45. The 9:00 show was singer/impressionist Bob Anderson. Entertaining—his expressions and mannerisms were more impressive than his voice impersonations—and some of the younger crowd (like my daughters) had trouble relating to who all these caricatures were (Sinatra, Deano, Sammy, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, etc.), but the show was entertaining. The 10:45 show was a comedian, Cary Long—Funny, but a fairly typical cruise performance—jokes about the differences between men and women packing or asking directions, etc.—and then a few songs by an A Capella quartet, Soul'd Out, who were actually VERY good. Monday was Skagway. We elected to do a 6 hour Yukon Horseback Riding tour ($149 per person) through Southeast Tours…We walked into town to the Southeast Tours office and our driver, Dave, took the four of us and two of our fellow Summit passengers in a van to Emerald Lake, somewhere north of Carcross, Yukon, stopping along the way to see some bears and moose as well as the "World's Smallest Desert". We arrived at Joanie's Yukon Horses and did a two hour horse ride through some magnificent countryside, then the ride back to the ship. If you like horses, then call these guys. The ship's horseback riding excursion is only a 3 hour total trip and doesn't leave the Skagway area—so, you're deciding between seeing all of the White Pass scenery (train or bus) versus riding horses—but this option gives you both. Show for Monday night? It's those Celebrity Singers and Dancers once again, this time in Classique—at least they've added a couple of aerialists. Tuesday was time for the brand new port for this season--Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska. I was actually quite impressed with the facilities—obviously freshly developed for their first cruise season, everything was freshly painted and in great condition. They've taken an old cannery and filled it with museum, gift shops and other cruise oriented uses. The Tlingit locals seemed sincerely happy to have us visit. They were friendly, warm and accommodating. We opted for the Whale Watching excursion (having used Juneau for helicopter day). The boat was a 200+ passenger large vessel as opposed to those 25 person jet boats you hear about in Juneau so I was a bit apprehensive as to what we might really see, but all of that worry was soon alleviated. We sailed out to Point Adolphus near the entrance to Glacier Bay and found ourselves surrounded by dozens of whales, some far off, others very near the boat, often passing in pods of 4 or 5 or 6. It was quite a trip. Our onboard naturalist was Hoo Kook (aka Howard, aka Hoonah Tlingit Boy from the Cruise Critic Message Board)—he was excellent, both knowledgeable and entertaining. The last tender back to the ship was 2:00 pm so it was a short time to shop at Icy Strait after the tour and then back onto the Summit for the Second Formal Night. Show this night was Samantha Jay, a rather bubbly English girl who played the Violin, Oboe and Saxophone in an all-instrumental performance. She was very good, but I'm not big into instrumentals. Wednesday was our final Alaskan port—Ketchikan. We made no advance plans here. We let the girls sleep in and wander into town on their own. My wife and I just got off the ship (Curiously, due to the large number of ships in port, they had to tender us in—they didn’t get to dock the Summit until mid afternoon when some of the other ships had left). Luckily, one of the perks for having the suite (or was it for Captains Club? I’m not really sure…but, I think it was the suite) was that we got Priority Tender Tickets and were able to get onto a tender before any of the other non-excursioned passengers. Along the pier and in the Visitors Center Building, there was ample opportunity to find any tour you wish. We decided to do a two hour city/salmon hatchery/eagle/Saxman Village Totem pole tour with Northern Tours ($30 each)…It was just about perfect and gave us a nice overview and a chance to get out of town and catch the Totem Poles at Saxman for a fairly low price. Afterwards, we tendered back to the ship for lunch, then back to Ketchikan for a walk around to shop and take photos at the very scenic Creek Street. Back on the ship, it was Informal night—and it was Lobster night (Our very good waiter, Ben and his assistant Alberto, brought me three very large lobster tails—I was quite a happy cruiser). The show, no I don’t believe it, was again the Celebrity Singers and Dancers with Encore. Okay, so they did get a little bit better as the cruise went on, but FOUR such shows on one seven night cruise is just a bit much!!! We were pretty much worn out and couldn’t stay awake for the Midnight Gala Buffet. Thursday Morning at-sea, I finally got to play Scattergories and Team Trivia. Only four of us played Scattergories and Amy, our wonderful Activities Director, awarded us all prizes—Celebrity Garment bags. Several groups showed for Team Trivia. I teamed up with my Scattergories mates and we won this competition—I got some sort of Celebrity Nylon Strap—not sure I know what I’m supposed to do with it. At 10:15 at night, they had the final Farewell Trivia. My kids insisted we play as a family. When Amy said they were giving out T-Shirts, my daughter Heather looked at me and said “We’re going to win those t-shirts”. She was right. Boy, I love Trivia. Now I have more stuff to add to my growing collection of Cruise key chains, water wallets, luggage tags, luggage locks, fanny packs and water wallets Okay, here’s the worst thing that happened all cruise: The ship had some sort of engine problem Wednesday evening and we did not leave Ketchikan at 7:00 pm as we were supposed to. In fact, we didn’t leave until very early the next morning as they had to wait for a part to arrive. No problem, they told us, there was ample time and they would still get us to Vancouver Friday Morning on schedule. No Problem, we got all of our ports in, and we got the same amount of time on the ship we were supposed to—BUT—because of the delays, we got a very different experience than we bargained for Thursday. Thursday was to have been our day for Cruising the Inside Passage. This was the day you were supposed to look forward to if, like us, you had suites or verandas on the STARBOARD side of the ship. With no ports to visit and the whole day to lounge around the ship, this was the day when magnificent scenery would finally appear on OUR side of the ship, when we could sit out on that oversized sky-suite balcony, get served by our Butler and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Inside Passage we had heard so much about—ALL AFTERNOON long. Unfortunately, by the time the now-delayed ship made it to the narrow passageway, we were in the middle of dinner and night was quickly approaching. The Summit cruise most of the length of the Inside Passage in the dark. I think we used our verandas maybe a total of an hour the entire trip. Alas. C’est la Vie! We did have the Guest Talent Show at 3:45 (which I gladly would have missed for the Inside Passage from the Veranda!) The show Thursday night was a variety hour of Comedian Cary Long, a capella group Soul’d Out and instrumentalist Samantha Jay. Somewhere during that evening, we slipped into our cabins, packed and left the luggage in the hall. Friday Morning, July 16, we disembarked the Summit in Vancouver around 9:45 and boarded a bus to our 2 night post cruise hotel (booked through Celebrity), the Sutton Place Hotel. I cannot picture a more perfect hotel for Vancouver. First of all, the rooms were quite large and comfortable, the furniture was beautiful 18th Century style dark woods and the hotel had an air of elegance. Our intent in Vancouver was to simply relax and unwind, eat—and the women wanted to do some shopping. Well, the location of the Sutton Place was perfect for just that—the corner of Burrard and Robson. Robson is possibly the trendiest of shopping streets in Vancouver and Robson, for about three blocks to either side of Burrard, has to have the greatest concentration of (largely unique) restaurants in Vancouver. The massive Pacific Centre Shopping Mall runs along Granville bordering on Robson about three short blocks from Sutton Place. My three women were in heaven. We also took a short walk and ferry (and taxi back) to Granville Island (Wonderful Farmers Market, cute shops, nice restaurants and great Photo opportunities) one day. Then, Sunday came and it was time to go home…The voucher for airport transit was good for the Airporter Bus from the hotel. We had a 3:57 pm flight on Alaska Airlines—3 hours later, non-stop and we were back in SoCal. At least I now have the Constellation next July to look forward to. A few notes: Simon, the Cruise Director, was first rate-one of the best. I can’t say enough about Amy, the Activities Director and Stephanie, the Future Cruise Consultant/Captains Club person. They were both exceptional The brochure says 2 Formal, 2 Informal, 3 Casual. It was 2/1/4. My wife MADE me dress up with the Sports Coat on one of the Casual days anyway. The male tablemates wanted to kill me for setting such a bad example and raising THEIR wives’ expectations. The Summit was beautiful. Celebrity never lets us down in that department. Always do the Land portion first. Vacations should get easier as they go along. Putting your luggage outside your door at 6:00 am every morning gets old fast. They do let you tag some of your bags with a different color tag and they’ll leave them on the bus so you don’t have to schlep all your luggage in and out every night. I packed all of my cruise only stuff—like the tuxedo, sports coat, long pants, etc in one case and tagged that for the ship only…I used my other case for only things I would need on the land portion. Unfortunately, my wife and daughters never figured out this method of packing. Ice Cream at the Waterfall Café makes each afternoon—except the day they ran out of chocolate and vanilla and all they had was Rum Raisin and Pistachio. I hate fruits and nuts in my ice cream. The After Eight (Mint Chocolate Chip) is outstanding. The Main Dining Room is great. We ate ALL of our meals there this cruise. I just wish they’d throw the Chocolate Souffle from the Normandie onto the Main Room dessert menu one night. That or Crème Brulee EVERY night. They had an invite only Elegant Tea in the Normandie one afternoon just for the Suite guests, I believe. Only nine of us showed up, total. It was still very nice. There are only so many T-Shirts, silly hats and ulu knives one man can take. Alaska was beautiful, but, if I had to choose, my preference is still the Mediterranean on the Millennium that we did last August. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
This was our eighth cruise and our second cruise on Infinity. Celebrity is our favorite cruise line and this cruise met our already high expectations. Overall this was a great cruise which we would recommend for all age groups. We did ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise and our second cruise on Infinity. Celebrity is our favorite cruise line and this cruise met our already high expectations. Overall this was a great cruise which we would recommend for all age groups. We did have some trouble getting to the ship. We flew from NY to Seattle and Celebrity picked us up to shuttle to Vancouver. We waited over an hour on the shuttle before we left. No one from Celebrity could tell us what was going on. There were several families with children and some smokers in the group who were very restless. When we finally got going our Celebrity hostess told us the trip would take 20 minutes. It actually takes over 2 hours. Once we got to the ship embarkation was a breeze and our luggage was delivered right away. The cruise itself was great. During our cruise Alaska was in the midst of a serious drought so there was almost no rain. We took 2 excursions. One was the white water rafting trip to the Mendenhall glacier. That was great but your feet get very cold. Be sure to bring extra socks to change into. The second excursion was a boat trip to see eagles. That was fun but a waste of money because there are eagles everywhere. You do not need to pay a guide to see them. The day at the Hubbard Glacier was wonderful. It is impossible to describe how beautiful it is. You really need to get out on the open deck to appreciate it. The crew had lots of nice warm blankets and hot chocolate. It was by far the best day of the cruise. There was a naturalist on board who explained everything we were seeing but in a low key, unobtrusive way. During the cruise we saw lots of wildlife including the aforementioned eagles, salmon, whales and penguins. The thalassotherapy pool was very popular because, of course, it was too cold to use the outdoor pools. The hot tubs were also in use a lot. However, we never had trouble finding a chair or using the facilities. The food was great. We usually had the buffet for lunch and breakfast. There were several stations and the lines were never long. Our dinner companions were pleasant. The United States restaurant was wonderful. Don't miss it. We usually like to use the Cova Cafe when on a Celebrity Cruise. I get a cocktail before dinner while my wife gets a cappuccino. For some reason, the bartender wasn't as friendly as on other Celebrity cruises. Our waiter was pleasant and attentive but not as outgoing as other waiters I've had. The headwaiter was wonderful and went out of his way to accommodate everyone at our table. The room attendant was really on the ball. Our cabin was cleaned several times a day and we always had ice and extra towels. My wife and I love to use the library on the cruise ship and the Infinity library is large (2 stories) with a good selection of books. It has nice big chairs which are great to curl up in to read or nap. It is conveniently located on deck 8. For some reason the librarian was very rude. She was a middle aged, American lady. My wife and I would sit there reading our books and watch her antics with the other passengers and the crew. She obviously hated everything about her job. One day she actually got into a shouting match with some poor soul on the phone. She was so unhappy I'd really be surprised if she was still there. The entertainment was pretty good. The comedian was hysterical and when the Celebrity singers and dancers did their review of Broadway, it was wonderful. The other review was tedious. The cruise director was OK, not the best I've seen. The Spa on this ship is first rate. My wife really loved everything about it. She even went to a clinic where they advised her on a makeover. The next day she had red highlights put in her hair which were very flattering. She also loved the haircut. This is the first cruise where I rented a tux. I can't tell you how convenient it was to arrive on the ship and have a perfectly pressed tux and shirts waiting. It fit, too. Overall, this was a very positive experience. We would not hesitate to sail with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our ... Read More
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our documents online, but still waited about 45 minutes between checking in and going to customs. My advice: Be early! (We thought we were, but I guess not) Room: Very nice accommodations! Our 1A cabin was perfect for the two of us. The balcony is essential if you like spending time alone enjoying the scenery. Early morning in the Inside Passage is not to be missed. We were on the ocean side of the ship, but our views and scenery were just as good as the land side, so starboard or port, either is great. Like a bus driver in Juneau told us, there is nothing on that ship that you have not seen before, so look outside! Food: Frankly we were disappointed. Food is supposed to be a highlight of most cruises, but not this one. Buffet: The buffet was never what we could call "good". The food was mediocre at best. We often joked that what was served in the main dining room one night would be found on the buffet the next. We were not wrong. Main Dining Room: Dinners were mostly just average. (We missed one night because we were too late, and one b/c of my wife's sea sickness) We had two "very good" meals out of five dinners in the main dining room. One of those meals was filet mignon- hard to foul up a good cut of meat unless you burn it. None of the meals were really bad, but not one single meal really stood out as excellent either. We tried a wide selection of main courses but found most to be bland. I guess the food was geared towards a less adventurous palate than mine. My wife and I enjoy wine with meals and ordered bottles off of the wine list. The list is not bad, but seems to be focused at persons who may not enjoy wine with dinner regularly. Wine also expensive (just like a restaurant, but with about a 20-30% premium). Surprisingly, lunch in the main dining room was where we had our best meal of the cruise. A creative curry lamb dish was excellent! Don't ever eat the buffet if the main dining room is available. Breakfast in the main dining room was the choice for my wife and I after the 2nd day at sea. Hands down superior to the buffet. Selections are constant throughout the week but eggs benedict one day and a bagel with lox and cream cheese the next is not a bad rotation. Sushi: Not a bad substitute when you miss your main dining room sitting. Good quality, but low selection. Highlight: The bread on the ship was all excellent. Every meal! Overview: Nothing was spectacular except the bread. Buffet was not good. Main Dining room should also always be the cruiser's first option on this ship. Service: The staff of the ship were all excellent at their jobs! The persons that we had the most contact with were our room steward and our wait staff. Both were excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were both top notch and would have been at home working in the finest restaurants in the world. I cannot say enough about these guys! Sylvanus (waiter) and Cosmo (asst. waiter) were both so attentive and helpful! They made sure that their end of the dining experience was all that it could be. Our assistant maitre'd was also very good at his job. He checked with us every night! Our room steward was attentive and efficient. We always returned to a clean room after breakfast and dinner. Very efficient. Shore Excursions: My wife and I both enjoy "going and doing", but we made some poor choices of shore excursions. Almost all are overpriced for what you get. We spend close to $1000 for 3 excursions for 2 persons. Too Expensive! This must be how they make up the profit margin for cruise tickets. We did enjoy the excursions we booked through the ship, but they were all a little too regimented and follow the leader for my wife and I. Crab feed in Ketchikan was not nearly as adventurous as it sounded. We enjoyed the experience, but we would try something else if we had the opportunity. White Pass Railroad in Skagway was beautiful, but 4 hours on a hot train with obnoxious people can be too much. Ditto about trying something else. We had the most fun on our independent and self guided trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Also the cheapest! Juneau is a do-it-yourself town, so save money and book activities when you go ashore. We also really enjoyed the ATV expedition in Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). This was "going and doing" as my wife says. The guides and the activity were fun and exciting. I recommend trying to do some excursions on your own through the independent operators on shore. Some excursions will not be cheaper, but some will save you money! In Juneau and Ketchikan, there are tour operators on or around the cruise ship dock. Skagway and Hoonah will be a cruise-ship-only excursion towns. Disembarkation: Painfully slow! There must be a more efficient way! Waiting in the corral area for your color to be called is not fun especially when things are running slowly. Help yourself and be late for this. After Cruise Activities: We were do-it-yourselfers after the cruise. We planned 4 more days of activities after the cruise and had lots of fun in Alaska. We fished and toured and had a great time. Don't be afraid to do it yourself. The only thing we fill we missed out from a cruisetour was the train ride north from Seward, but our activity schedule was more conducive to rental car travel. Likes: - Excellent wait staff!!! - Being catered to - Having our food arrangements made (even though not spectacular dining, no thought to where we were going was needed) - Having a room steward to answer questions and take care of our needs! - Seeing sights that can only be seen by cruising Disappointments: - Very regimented life aboard ship - Very expensive activities and excursions - Disappointing food and expensive drinks - Embarkation / Disembark slow and arduous Overall: We enjoyed some aspects of the cruise and grew to dislike others. Nothing against Celebrity, but we probably will not cruise again for some time. After you have a few drinks and go on some excursions, cruising is not such a great deal financially. The style of vacation doesn't really suit our interests or our desires. We were much happier on shore after the cruise when we had a loose itinerary and a more freewheeling approach. We are already thinking about our next trip to Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
We, along with about 60 others from all over Australia, travelled half way around the World to experience a cruise to Alaska (5th to 12th Sept '04) on the Infinity, and we, along with those we had chance to talk with afterwards, ... Read More
We, along with about 60 others from all over Australia, travelled half way around the World to experience a cruise to Alaska (5th to 12th Sept '04) on the Infinity, and we, along with those we had chance to talk with afterwards, unanimously voted this as simply one of the best holiday cruises we have ever had. There is little one can add to the previous glowing comments on the Infinity, we had an Ocean View Stateroom which we found very comfortable and was ample in size for the limited time we spent in it, as there is so much to see and do! The food was simply stunning, the service five star, the entertainment brilliant, and the views of Canada and Alaska defy description. The time we spent at the Hubbard Glacier was awe-inspiring, for a start it was a cloudless, crisp and clear sunny day, in fact we ended up getting sunburnt. The Glacier "calved" about 6 or 8 times while we were there, and I was told by some of the old-timers in the crew that it was one of the best days and best displays that they had experienced, we were just so lucky. There was nothing about this Cruise or the Infinity and her Crew that one could fault, nevertheless, I must say, and I will obviously get some "stick" here, that there were occasions when we experienced some of our "American Cousins" complaining about the most trivial of matters, some of which was obviously of their own making. I am so sorry to have to say that, but this has seemed to have crept in to the American pshysic over the past decade or so, not just on this cruise but everywhere one encounters Americans on holiday, sorry people but if your biggest problem is that the toilet paper doesn't tear along the perforated line, then I have to say you've got nothing to complain about! I am reminded of an Old Chinese Proverb, "Man with no shoes should grieve for man with no feet!" In all we had such a wonderful time we would have no hesitation in recommending Infinity, and the Alaskan Cruise, to even the most discerning of traveller. Read Less
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