We just arrived home from the September 11, 2016, sailing to Alaska/Inside Passage. Celebrity did not disappoint. We splurged as this was definitely a bucket list trip - and we were also fortunate to get a good deal when we booked. Our ... Read More
We just arrived home from the September 11, 2016, sailing to Alaska/Inside Passage. Celebrity did not disappoint. We splurged as this was definitely a bucket list trip - and we were also fortunate to get a good deal when we booked. Our package included everything we wanted - a concierge class balcony room, the premium beverage package, internet, prepaid gratuities, and onboard credit. I feel quite certain that if we had not gone ahead and splurged (as was our intention), I would have been discouraged by the price of drinks, internet, etc., But since we planned ahead and booked a truly all-inclusive package - it was absolutely perfect! We never actually met or utilized a concierge, so not sure that the concierge class was necessarily a perk, but as it was our first cruise with Celebrity, it's hard to know. We were invited to a concierge hosted lunch on embarkation day - which was great, but didn't include meeting a concierge or hearing anything about one. We also received a special concierge invitation for priority disembarkation on the first port day, but frankly, that was a little lackluster as there were dozens of people waiting in the hallway of the 2nd floor without anywhere to sit. I'm not complaining - it was a one time event, and we did get off as soon as the ship was cleared. However, I did see several people who really weren't able to stand for that long unassisted, so for them I imagine it was more of an issue.
Our stateroom attendant, Eduardo, was outstanding. He was so kind, friendly, and efficient. Our room was always refreshed quickly and thoroughly in both the morning and the afternoon, and anytime we needed anything he was quick to respond. The stateroom was plenty big for us and we were pleased with the balcony. The room did show some signs of wear and tear in the internal cabinet/door hardware, but everything was functional and it didn't inhibit our experience. Hubbard Glacier was amazing - I'm so thankful we had the balcony for that experience.
We opted for the Celebrity Select Dining and made dinner reservations for the Trellis Restaurant 4 or 5 of the nights. We chose the "sharing table" and were seated at the same nice table near the back windows each time. Our waiter, Russel, was a delight. He called us by name every single meal and made us feel very welcome and valued. He gave excellent suggestions for starters, main courses, and desserts, and we never went wrong when we followed his guidance. Our Sommelier, Rudy, was also attentive and efficient. He called us by name as well, and never left us waiting. The assistant waiter, Alvin, was a table ninja.. moving in and out nearly unnoticed but always filling water glasses, removing plates, and taking care of the details. We met wonderful people at our dinners that we now consider friends, and it definitely made the whole experience even more enjoyable. I highly recommend "sharing tables" and getting to know your fellow passengers. The food was consistently excellent. One night I skipped Russel's recommendation and chose the "classic" option of a sirloin and it was a bit tough, but otherwise, we were very pleased with the selections, the quality, and the service. We did visit the buffet for breakfast and lunch some and that was more often than not a bit frustrating as far more people dined there than the other venues and it was often difficult to find a table. Even so, any frustration was generally due to other passengers and not a direct reflection on the ship staff or service. The dining staff were quick to clear tables and were frequently checking in to offer drinks, etc.,
We took advantage of many of the activities on board, and it was always a blast. We went to almost all of the nightly shows in the Celebrity Theater. They were all enjoyable and our favorites were the acrobats and the comedian, Darryl Joyce (sp?). The singers and dancers had great energy. We also participated in some of the celebrity life trivia events, and each round of Bingo (we won once!). We also watched a round of Bandaoke and listened to Bill Forester (sp?) do an Elton John set. There was never a lack of things to do and enjoy. We spent time several nights at the Martini Bar and enjoyed the silent disco there. We also spent some time in the Casino and won often enough to keep us playing :) I wish we could remember the name of one of the drink attendants there, he was great! We frequented the Café daily and the drinks were always superb. Although we often took our lattes "to go", when we did take time to relax there the atmosphere was great and the table service was friendly and attentive. The pastries/cookies were a treat as well. On the last "at sea" day we finally tried the Gelato - and it was definitely worth the extra charge. It was delicious - probably a good thing we didn't try it until the end ;).
We booked excursions through Celebrity for each port. We booked three in advance and one once we were already on the ship. In Icy Strait, we went on a whale watching tour and it did not disappoint. We were fortunate to see multiple humpbacks from a reasonable distance and got to see the spouts, humps, and flukes many times. It was a great experience. In Juneau, we had booked a helicopter/glacier hike, but woke up to a very wet and windy day, so were not surprised to find out it was canceled. However, the excursions team was outstanding at dealing with the situation and quickly offered us other options. Switching to the other excursion was fairly painless and the refund of the difference was made automatically. We had scheduled two excursions that day but when the first was canceled, the recommended replacement was a longer one that included a meal, so they said we could cancel both of the originals and be refunded. We did have to go to the shore excursions desk to correct the 2nd part of the excursion but they were quick to remedy it. Of course we were disappointed about missing the helicopter, but it definitely wasn't the fault of the cruise line, and we were satisfied with the way they handled the situation. Part of our replacement excursion included another whale watching boat, and although the weather wasn't great, we had the amazing privilege of seeing a humpback do a full aerial breach - it was worth every wet/cold moment. In Ketchikan, we drove on an ATV Wilderness ride to a scenic overlook and a waterfall. It was definitely an enjoyable experience - if you do it, take them up on the complementary raingear.. I took a rain jacket but opted out of the rain pants.. and wish I hadn't.. it was a bit muddy/wet - which was great for the experience, but not so much for my pants ;)
We traveled alone as a couple, but met many great friends through Cruise Critic and then just through various venues on the ship. We did not travel with children and there were very few children on the boat. The few children we did encounter were always well behaved and seemed to be having a great time.
We used some of our onboard credit to get a Persian Garden pass, and we took advantage of that area almost every day. We LOVED the herbal sauna, the heated benches, Turkish spa, etc., etc., etc., and we often enjoyed some time in the Solarium hot tub after a good visit to the Persian Garden.
In summary - we would definitely go again and highly recommend it. It was definitely the bucket list experience we hoped for. Any frustrations or complaints we had were minor and were always related to other passengers (which is just part of any crowd experience and not the fault of the ship). If you go with the intention and expectation of having the adventure of a lifetime -it's there waiting. And, if you can't go with that attitude, do everyone else a favor and don't go. Read Less