Summit - Alaska: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Rudy

Celebrity Summit 5
Member Since 2003

Overall Member Rating

Summit - Alaska

Sail Date: June 2006
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Vancouver

INTRODUCTION -- After planning on an Alaska cruise for over a year, we finally came upon an announcement in the church bulletin offering an Alaskan Pilgrimage cruisetour, the very cruise we were hoping to take. We signed up with thirty other prospective pilgrim cruisers with a priest as our spiritual guide and after months of preparing for this, our prayers were answered. This cruisetour was a 7 night cruise on Celebrity Lines-Summit ship from Vancouver, B.C. northbound to Seward, AK; 3 day land tour by motorcoach to Anchorage & Talkeetna & Denali National Park & by train to Fairbanks, then fly out to Seattle-to- Charlotte, NC & Jacksonville,FL.

June 3----Sat. (Partly Cloudy & Cool) -- This day had finally arrived & we all met at the Jax airport at 6:30am, for a long flight to Vancouver, B.C. The flight departed on time . After some 10 hrs., we arrived at 11:30am PCT. We were promptly escorted thru the More Vancouver air terminal in an orderly manner. Led thru the Pacific Passage area displaying the Vancouvers native cultural history in sculptured forms in wood, metal fabric weaved tapestry. We were assembled in an area for transporting by bus to the pier. After arriving at the pier, we walked up the long ramp to the Summits main lobby, with exquisite dEcor & met by a waitress offering Mimosa or Champagne which we opted out of & led by a white gloved crew member who showed us to our cabin-(forward & starboard- 7066) with a veranda. The cabin was slightly smaller than motel size but clean with mirrored walls & ceiling. More than adequate closet & draw space. Embarkation went better than we expected boarding the ship around 1:30pm PCT. After settling in, we headed for the the Waterfall Cafe(WFC). Lots of food with a selection similar to a cafeteria but oh so much better in quality & presentation especially the desserts.

After a self guided tour, we returned to the cabin. Vancouver was visible from the veranda as was the pier. At 5:15pm sharp we had to participate in a life boat drill. All ships crew & passengers assembled in the Celebrity Theatre & eventually led out to our boat stations for further instructions. Dining in the Cosmopolitan restaurant was delightful experience. Menu selection was superb&from soups to salads to entrees to desserts. Served in elegant style. WanWan a first class waiter as was his assistant Kusamo were both from Indonesia, we became fast friends to the last days serving.

June 4-----Sunday (Cloudy, Misty & Cool) -- Ship was cruising the INSIDE PASSAGE----[scenic pristine waterway reaching 1000 miles from British Columbia to Skagway, AK; viewed the fjords & mountainous/forested islands occasionally seeing sea lions, bald eagles]----for a good part of the day. After attending Sunday Mass, we had breakfast at the WFC..waffles were great as was the omelets prepared to your liking. Spent the remainder of the day socializing & viewing areas of the ship. Lunch time -- back to the WFC, but discovered the pizza shop so we lunched on pizza. For dessert, I had a delicious cheese cake & eyeballed the French pastry..flan. I returned to the cabin & all hell broke loose, upset stomach & got sick. Had a miserable evening & was not getting any better. Could I have contracted a "bug"? I skipped dinner that evening but Marie was fine & went to dinner. She was overwhelmed with the shrimp cocktail of which you could request additional servings. Our cabin attendant. Edwin (from Colombia), was concerned about my illness & had followed up on whatever I needed to make me comfortable.

June 5-----Monday (Cold, Windy, Rainy & Overcast) -- Ship docked at JUNEAU around 12 pm. Since I was not feeling too well, we decided to stay on board. Weather was not good for walking the area. Did see the the tourist traps in proximity to the dock & the cable car rising to mountain top. This being the capital of Alaska, it is only accessible by float plane.

June 6-----Tuesday (Partly Cloudy, Windy & Cold) -- Docked at SKAGWAY with three other ships. This town is typical of gold rush mining period of the 1890s with wooden boardwalks & wooden store front shops ready to take your money. We skipped the White Pass railway & did not get to the Red Dog Saloon; however, we did cruise the stores most of which were jewelry shops but displaying rather unique pieces. Marie spent quite sometime before deciding on a pearl bracelet with a beautiful setting. The main drag was populated with passengers from the four ships, seemed like 42nd St. in NYC. A couple of hours of shopping was enuf & on returning to the ship we were greeted with hot chocolate being passed out by a crew member; this was the norm at subsequent ports.

June 7------Wednesday (Clear, Sunny, Cool & Windy) -- Upon arriving near SITKA, the ship dropped anchor offshore. We had to assemble in the Celebrity Theatre to receive a numbered card for boarding a tender to shore. Once on shore we came upon a private tour operator offering a tour of areas bald eagle, sea lion(s) & general history in a 8 seat van. This proved to be a very informative tour; saw many eagles in their various habitats & a huge sea lion named Earl, who is the resident pet. The driver related a number of historic events that took place in past years. Returned to the ship to go to an evening dinner & take in the Cirque Du Soleil (35 min. long) which was fabulous. Production show of "Broadway Tunes" was quite good but not outstandingly original in dance routines. Singing of principal performers was great. Comic & magician was very entertaining. Also, the unbelievable stunts performed by an aerialist team of Rebecca & Phillippe were marvelous.

June 8-----Thursday (Clear, Sunny, & Cool) -- ICY STRAIT POINT --At this port the ship had to anchor offshore & again we were tendered to shore. Only one ship can anchor here which made it much easier to stroll leisurely around. Toured the salmon cannery museum & packing company. We had just missed getting a glimpse of Humpback whales feeding in the area bay. We attended a performance of the Tlingit natives in the theater as they acted out their ceremonial dances in colorful costumes & narrating the legends in their native language & English. We then boarded a bus to a remote bush river valley where a local native guide led us on a short hike to a wooden platform to view wildlife. Just in time to observe two grizzly bear cubs playing in the stream bed. Back to the ship with hot chocolate in hand.

June 9-----Friday (Clear, Sunny, Cold & Windy) -- Cruising toward HUBBARD GLACIER. This was the one of the highlights of the cruise. Viewing the mountains, ice flows & glacier was awesome. The ship was within 3 miles from the glaciers where you could hear the cracking & thunder like sounds of the glaciers moving & calving; viewed this from the 11th deck & our balcony as well. This was our last day to enjoy the ships amenities before packing. However, as the ship entered the Gulf of Alaska, we encountered rough sea swells putting the ship in a "rolling & pitching" motion. This prevailed thru the day & evening hours. Motion sickness pills were the order of the day. Trying to pack under these conditions was a challenge.

June 10-----Saturday (Cloudy, Drizzle, Cold) -- Docked at SEWARD around 3 am. Disembarkation was at 8:30 am, which went quite smoothly & well organized. After a 4 hour motorcoach trip, we reached ANCHORAGE in time for lunch. We happened on a very large & crowded flea market/craft show. Had the local fast food favorite&"Reindeer Sausage-dog"(consists of reindeer meat w/ some pork). This was the "BEST" tasting hot dog. On the motorcoach for another 3 hour ride to TALKEETNA ALASKAN LODGE (partly cloudy & cool). Scenery along the way was wonderful&&flora & mountainous ranges. This lodge is a luxury resort for skiers. Beautiful setting on a hill where you can view Mt. McKinley. It features a 50 ft. high stone fireplace in the lobby. Marie & a friend, opted for a plane ride (single engine) over glaciers & a landing near Mt. McKinley which was aborted due to turbulent conditions. Had a pleasant & relaxing evening here; spacious room with comfy bed.

June 11-----Sunday (Clear, Sunny & Cool) -- Today we continued on to DENALI NATIONAL PARK. We were led to a site to board a "school bus" for a 5 hour tour of the far reaches of the park to observe the vast Tundra & wildlife. Peering out the bus window, we saw moose, caribou, deer & an adult brown (grizzly) bear. Our driver was quite knowledgeable giving us a running commentary on the parks history. Later that day we were driven to the train station to board the Wilderness Express train for a 4 hour scenic ride to Fairbanks. Once in Celebritys dome car outfitted with large leather seats, we settled in for a comfortable ride. Bar service was available at reasonable prices. We then were led to the dining area below the dome car. Superb & elegant menu. I had prime rib which was the best I have tasted in sometime. Marie had baked halibut seasoned with herbs & lemon.

Arrived in FAIRBANKS & on to another motorcoach ride for a two night stay in Pikes Waterfront Lodge; this place was the worst we encountered. Room was o.k. but the temperature was 85 deg.F. & the A/C was not working properly. Hotel personnel were uncooperative & unconcerned.

June 12------Monday (Clear, Sunny & Hot) -- This morning we were bussed to the El Dorado Gold Mine for a mini-train tour of the old (abandoned) mining area. Given a demo on how panning was done during the gold rush. We then were escorted to an area where we had a hands-on experience of panning of gold. Between Marie & I, we panned $11 of gold once weighed. Marie had a pendant/bracelet made with the gold chips. Back to Fairbanks for lunch. Later that day we were bussed to the River Boat Discovery dock. This was a 3 hour paddle-wheel boat narrated trip down the Chena & Tennana rivers. Stopping at different spots to observe the Iditarod dog camp & native villagesgiving an narrative of tribal customs & life the natives had to endure. Back to the hotel/motel to prepare for the arduous trip back home.

June 13------Tuesday (Sunny, Clear & Warm) -- This morning we are scheduled for a 6:30 am flight to Seattle. Arrived in Seattle & trekked the terminal for our flight to Charlotte, NC. Two hours into the flight, an elderly lady had a heart attack; attendants called for an M.D. Luckily there were two on board with an EMT. Pilot had to make an emergency landing in Cedar Rapids, IA. On the tarmac for two hours & local rescue personnel removed the lady. We believe she did not survive. Obviously, we missed our connecting flight to Jax. Upon arriving in Charlotte at 11 pm, we were set up in a motel. With only a few hours of sleep, we were scheduled for a 8 am flight to Jax on the morning of June 14th. All in all, we had a very pleasant & enlightening experience on the Summit. May do again sometime soon.............. Less

Published 09/08/06
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