My husband cruised on the Celebrity Solstice ship, May 24-31, round trip from Seattle to Alaska. On our cruise, we visited Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska, as well as visited Victoria, BC, Canada. We were supposed to visit Tracy Arm ... Read More
My husband cruised on the Celebrity Solstice ship, May 24-31, round trip from Seattle to Alaska. On our cruise, we visited Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska, as well as visited Victoria, BC, Canada. We were supposed to visit Tracy Arm Fjord as well, but unfortunately, there was no safe way to do so, according to our captain. Our stateroom attendant said such a departure from itinerary had only happened once before in his time working with Celebrity; we just happened to be unlucky in that regard. However, the other ports were excellent and we had a great time overall in each port. The highlight was taking the short walk (it's not really a hike) to the Nugget Falls near Mendenhall Glacier. Those falls were GORGEOUS, and in the unexpectedly hot weather (it was 70-75 degrees in our Alaskan ports), the cool mist from the falls was very much appreciated. The relatively low point of the excursion portion of our vacation was the Zodiac whale watching tour. We saw whales, which was great, but it took 4 hours to do so, in extremely cold and windy conditions; the waves were so bad heading back to the ship, that our ship captain had to ride in another boat's wake for calmer waters. Additionally, there was a scary period of time where our Zodiac boat completely stopped running. We were just floating in the sea. Our boat operator literally said, "it's no big deal" but he never explained the full situation to us - we were all left to wonder/panic, until thankfully, his peer came on the radio and offered assistance. We spent about 30 minutes pulling up to another boat, then waiting for our ship operator's peer to steer her boat full of guests over to us, before she (the other Zodiac operator) could help our boat operator fix our boat's issue. It was a stressful experience.
Now, on to the ship: it was beautiful! I thought it was the perfect size: roomy enough to not ever really feel crowded, small enough to not feel like a floating mall. It was well maintained as well. My favorite area of the ship was the Solarium. It was so beautifully done and very peaceful. The attendants did a great job of enforcing the age limit rule when the 16+ age limit was in effect. My husband and I also enjoyed the Sky Lounge/Observatory for the most part - it was a great place to have a drink with beautiful views, but some of the guests at the bar were loud and obnoxious; you could hear them throughout the very large observatory. Not only that, at one point, the kids' clubs were hosted in the observatory, and they played on the piano and use microphones, all the while the captain was announcing where to spot wildlife. Many guests, myself included, were pretty annoyed at missing all the announcements due to the loudness of this area.
We had a lot of other issues on this cruise as well, including a professionally trained singer SINGING at all times of day and night in the stateroom next to ours. We called guest relations several times to address this issue, but unfortunately, the guest relations employee stated that she had no real power to do anything beyond advise the woman to sing when we were out to dinner from 8:30 - 10:00. Of course our neighbor did not stick to this schedule, and we would have to endure her singing at all times of day still. It was infuriating. That leads me to another quirk: the soundproofing on the ship is just awful. We could hear our neighbors on the other side of us talking in their room at times, and we could tell that they were not speaking loudly. I'm sure they could hear my husband and I laughing as well. I have never been on a cruise ship where I could hear my neighbors talking at a normal voice level; ever. I also did not love the limited, included dining options on board. The menus in the main dining room each night were often uninspired and it would have been nice to have had another seated option for no additional fee. The soda package was a waste of money as well. I had no idea that the soda would be served warm each time we ordered. I could've bought cans of soda in my suitcase if I had known that was going to be the case. It would've been nice to at least have the option of getting cold soda from a machine, but of course, Celebrity couldn't collect a 18-20% service charge on that. The activities and entertainment on board were also pretty uninspired and not really geared toward active cruisers; the entertainment and activities were definitely for a more mature crowd.
Embarkation was a bit of a mess, but I could write another book on that. Disembarkation was great on the other hand. I was very impressed.
Overall, we will definitely be cruising to Alaska again soon, but not with Celebrity. I think I'm one and done with the Celebrity Cruise Line.
My husband cruised on the Celebrity Solstice ship, May 24-31, round trip from Seattle to Alaska. On our cruise, we visited Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska, as well as visited Victoria, BC, Canada. We were supposed to visit Tracy Arm Fjord as well, but unfortunately, there was no safe way to do so, according to our captain. Our stateroom attendant said such a departure from itinerary had only happened once before in his time working with Celebrity; we just happened to be unlucky in that regard. However, the other ports were excellent and we had a great time overall in each port. Here are my overall thoughts:
Cruise Port/Embarkation - 3/5 stars
The cruise port is a little ways away from the airport, which is typical for cruising, but it was easy enough to take a Lyft to and from the airport and the cruise terminal. I didn’t love the unnecessarily aggressive driving of the other drivers - reminded me of driving in NYC, but what you can do? The port employees were definitely the friendliest port employees I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. That was a lovely experience. They were happy, smiling, and conversational even in the cold and ugly, morning weather, with all the chaos of a typical embarkation day. The one negative - which is kind of a major negative - was that the employee handing out bag tags was terribly inefficient. He literally spent over 10 minutes talking to a man looking for a bag tag, about jewelry. He kept saying, “I LOVE jewelry” to this man, who happened to own a jewelry store. The cruise passenger finally took the hint and gave the bag tag employee a card for his store. Unfortunately by that point, the line had gotten pretty unruly - we had to stop some very frustrated cruise passengers from jumping ahead of us. Additionally, the luggage employees had NO clue what they were doing. There were other, senior cruise port employees yelling at several luggage employees, telling them how and where to take bags. Many of the luggage employees took bags too early, some weren’t checking for tags which were marked orange or blue to differentiate between the 2 ships at the port, etc. We only left our bags with a luggage employee that had a senior cruise port employee directly in front of him, telling him what to do. Our bags made it to us fine, so we think we made the right call there. Inside the cruise terminal, the line moved extremely slow for about 20 minutes, but then picked up considerably as the line extended impossibly far down into the lower level of the terminal, and it drew closer to 2:30 PM, which was the cut off for check in. I’m sure some upper level manager realized they’d never make it if the original pace kept up. I was extremely grateful for the change in pace.
We had never been to Seattle, so we explored Seattle on our own after leaving our bags at the cruise terminal. It was an okay city. The pros are that downtown is a very walkable area and there’s LOTS to explore and see for a reasonable amount of money. I was kind of shocked at the amount of construction going on downtown, the awful traffic with very rude drivers, and the lack of skyline.
Ketchikan was a very cute city and the downtown area was super close to the cruise port. We did the Unlimited Crab Feast excursion, booked directly with the lodge, and we LOVED it. We plan to go back. Our guide who drove us to the lodge took us on a short tour around downtown Ketchikan and even stopped at a beautiful waterfall for us to take pictures, on the way back to our ship. The crab at the lodge was amazing, of course, as was the cheesecake. The entire experience was great, with the exception of the time limit at the Lodge. They ended up rushing everyone out not even 5 minutes after handing out the cheesecake, stating that we HAD to leave because our ships were leaving soon. That was obviously not the case, but they were literally taking plates and rushing around the room to clean, so everyone cleared out. I scarfed down about 1/2 of my cheesecake and was the last to leave. It would’ve been nice to know in advance when we would need to clear out. I think we, as a crowd, would’ve paced ourselves, so we could all enjoy the delicious and creamy cheesecake they served at the end.
We were not able to visit Tracy Arm Fjord safely, unfortunately, so our ship captain made the executive decision to head to Juneau - we got to Juneau 2 hours early.
Juneau: Juneau was absolutely stunning. It was definitely the most beautiful place I’ve been to date. The weather was perfect too - actually too hot for what my husband and I packed, but I just stripped off a few layers and I was fine. We went to Mendenhall Glacier, on a narrated bus tour, and then walked to Nugget Falls, which were stunning. We hung out there for quite awhile, enjoying the misty breeze from the falls.
Victoria, BC, Canada:
We did very little here due to the short time in port. We did the Zodiac whale watching tour, which was mostly successful in that we saw a majestic humpback whale, and few Orcas. However, our boat stopped working at one point, and our boat operator was pretty unprofessional about the whole thing. Thankfully, his partner and another ship captain were able to help us out, and after about 30 minutes, we were back to whale watching. The entire tour was 4 hours long, which was way too long. The boat ride back was long, wet, dark, windy, and completely torturous. The ride was so uncharerstically bumpy, that our ship operator got in another larger ship’s wake so the ride was a little more smooth and we wouldn’t have to stop as often due to large waves.
Ship service: Excellent. Not a bad server in the bunch. Everyone was very responsive and friendly.
Disembarkation: This was an excellent experience. They were well prepared by this point. We waited in a bit of a long time that didn’t move for about 10 minutes, but when it started moving, we were off the ship in about 10 minutes. I was very impressed.
Overall ship experience:
The food in the buffet was excellent, as far as buffet food goes. The main dining room food was prepared well, but the menus were just not good. The lunch menu was so bad the first day at sea, my husband refused to go back, so we ate at the buffet for lunch for the rest of the cruise. The dinner menus were only marginally better - everything was prepared well, but the options were just so uninspired. I didn’t love anything except the last night’s menu option of lobster tail and rice pilaf. Additionally, the activities offered onboard were just not suitable for younger, more active people. My husband and I had nothing to do. We weren’t interested in seeing comedians night after night, or drinking at all hours of the day. The activities and entertainment seemed geared toward a more mature crowd/inactive people. That was a real downer of sea days. The positive was that the Solarium, which was an adult only pool area most of the time, was a wonderful retreat and beautifully done. Our stateroom cabin was nicely laid out, but Celebrity NEEDS to improve the soundproofing in their rooms - at least in the balcony rooms on deck 8. Additionally, Celebrity needs to do a better job policing their guests. One of our neighbors was a professionally trained singer who sang all times of day. Guest services could not do a thing about it, apparently, except try to get her to sing when we were at dinner for 1 1/2 hours, and the neighbor refused to do that. This made our experience overall pretty miserable, honestly. We had little to do on the other decks, besides eat and swim, but then couldn’t stay in our room because our neighbor was loud and inconsiderate. It was a terrible issue that I begged guest services to resolve by moving my husband and I, or by moving the neighbor. No one we spoke to had the power to do so, or so they claimed. The observatory was a beautiful, but rarely peaceful place, due to over served patrons in the bar area and the kids clubs coming in and using microphones while the ship captain announced where to spot wildlife. That was super frustrating too. The soda package was a waste of money as well. I had no idea that the soda would be served warm each time we ordered. I could've bought cans of soda in my suitcase if I had known that was going to be the case. It would've been nice to at least have the option of getting cold soda from a machine, but of course, Celebrity couldn't collect a 18-20% service charge on that.
Overall, we will definitely be cruising to Alaska again soon, but not with Celebrity. I think I'm one and done with Celebrity Cruise Line. Read Less