This was our second cruise to Alaska, we sailed on the Celebrity Mercury back in 2010 on a round trip out of Los Angeles and that trip was magical as it was in early May and everywhere we went it was great weather and lots of snow on the ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska, we sailed on the Celebrity Mercury back in 2010 on a round trip out of Los Angeles and that trip was magical as it was in early May and everywhere we went it was great weather and lots of snow on the mountains. This trip we took our son, his wife and our grandson with rooms next to each other on Baja deck. The steward opened the partition between the balconies and it really open up the space.
We sailed on June 20th from Seattle, embarkation was the fastest and smoothest I have ever experienced, this was probably our 15th cruise and from parking the car to on the ship was literally 30 minutes. Unbelievable. Don't know if Seattle Cruise Port is always like this, but I'm sold. Stopped in the room to drop off our carry on and went upstairs to the buffet and had lunch. BTW, this was the official Seahawks 12th Man cruise and being from Phoenix and a Cardinals fan, I was not happy when we found out. But overall it wasn't bad, the fans were a little over the top sometimes, but really a couple of hundred fans among 3000 people it was tolerable. Lunch was pretty good, especially the cheeseburgers and brats from the grill.the burger actually tasted like good ground beef and not some processed patty. The lifeboat drill was typical and we were soon underway.
Sailing out of Seattle, it takes a while before you reach open ocean, lots to see going by. The first night's dinner was the only miss of the whole trip. My son and I ordered the prime rib and it was a very poor cut of beef. Tough, funny taste and funny look. Everyone else liked what they ordered though. Our waiter was Marino and his assistant was Miguel. Outstanding service and attention. One thing we discovered on our last cruise is the late seating is by far a more pleasurable experience. You are not rushed, the service is better and the dining room is not crowded. If you can get used to eating at a later time it is well worth it. Marino entertained our grandson every night, magic tricks, puzzles, he even folded a dollar bill into a ring for him to wear. Marino sang to our daughter in law on her birthday and made her a rose out of a napkin. When we signed up for late seating, it was supposed to be 8pm, but once on the ship, we were told it had been changed to 7:30, which was even better.
The itinerary matched our 2010 cruise, so we wanted to do some of the same things and also try some other things. We went to Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm Fjord, Kethchikan and Victoria.
In Juneau, we took the Mendenhall Glacier/Salmon Hatchery/Salmon Bake excursion and it was excellent. We walked to Big Nugget Falls, whic I highly recommend. It takes about 45 minutes round trip, including time at the falls. You see the waterfall from the visitor's center, but unless you go to it, you cannot get a feel for the massive amount of water pouring over into the bay. It was our second trip to the salmon bake and it was just as good as before. The chinook salmon had a glaze on it and all the sides were excellent. They really do a good job, even giving everyone a bowl of clam chowder upon arrival. There is a stream and waterfall nearby, an abandoned mine and even an open pit fire to roast marshmallows.
Next up was Skagway. Last time we went by bus up to White Pass and with all the snow it was beautiful. This trip we decided to do the Kawasaki Mule ride up into the mountains. We were taken by ferry to Haines, and then by bus to the trailhead. We jumped into the Mules and were given a quick tutorial and warning about not going too fast. Once underway, we understood why, it is steep, with hairpins and loose dirt on the trail, we had to keep the vehicles in 4WD low all the way up. On the way up, the scenery is incredible. Waterfalls, streams, vistas, and more. Halfway up we stopped at a little cabin and were served hot drinks and fresh baked cookies. We got back on the trail and soon we were at the summit. We climbed over 1000 feet and the view at the lookout point was magnificent! We took a lot of pictures, they really gave us plenty of time before we started back down. We stopped again for lunch and it was a chicken dish and fresh halibut that was lightly breaded and fried. The fish was outstanding and the sides were really tasty as well. One of the guide's Mule broke down, and she asked if she could ride down with us. We really learned a lot from her as it was like having our own private tour guide. Great excursion, highly recommend.
Tracy Arm Fjord. Unbelievable. In 2010, we weren't able to get to Sawyer Glacier due to the fjord ding frozen over, which was disappointing. Since in was June 24th, we were able to make it all the way to South Sawyer Glacier. Although there weren't as many icebergs in the water and there was a lot less snow on the mountains this time (less snow also means fewer waterfalls), it was still the highlight of the cruise. The on-board naturalist was very informative and we learned a lot. Once we rounded the last corner and the glacier came into view, the captain really slowed the ship down. We were treated to amazing views as once he went as far as he could go, he slowly turned the ship in place 180 degrees, giving all on board perfect viewing angles. A side note: there is an excursion that you can do in the fjord, you board a smaller vessel and it it suppose to get you closer to the glacier. But our capitan got us so close, the smaller vessel only got a little closer than us.
Next up was Ketchikan and we were supposed to go on a Duck Boat tour, but we decided to stay on the ship. The kids went on a Zodiac Expedition and loved it. Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places in the US, and it was misty and rainy while we were there. One of the ships we followed was the Holland Westerdam and when we reached Victoria the next day we heard about the float plane that crashed in Misty Fjords and killed nine people from the Westerdam. The buzz went throughout our ship, especially since we left Ketchikan about an hour before the fatal crash.
Victoria was out last stop, we went whale watching in 2010 and since we didn't get to port until 7pm, with an 11pm departure, we decided to stay on the ship again. The kids went out for a walk on the pier, and enjoyed it.
Disembarkation was pretty smooth, we followed instructions, waited where we were supposed to be and were soon off the ship and back in our vehicle. All in all, it was a great cruise, the food was outstanding, the service superior, it really exceeded our expectations. Our very first cruise was in 1996, on Princess to the Western Carribean. We hadn't sailed on Princess since, going on Carnival several times, Royal Carribean and twice on Celebrity. The Celebrity Mercury was magical, smaller ship, we had a suite with a butler, 14 days RT from LA, incredible scenery, tough to ever top. Conversely, the sister ship, Celebrity Century was a disaster cruise. The beds in the balcony cabins are rounded on the ends, making them a foot shorter in the corners. The food was very average, sometimes terrible. We went with friends on their second cruise and it really turned them off on cruising. I will definitely think towards Princess for any futures cruises. In fact, we booked a cruise on-board...Panama Canal, partial transit, 19 days round trip from LA next November. A once-time only cruise, kinda like our 2010 Alaska cruise. Read Less