My first cruise with Celebrity was a pleasantly memorable one. My 14 year old daughter and I embarked in Vancouver following an overnight stay that I had booked on my own. Although my cruise packet indicated that we should not arrive prior to 2:45 pm, I took a chance and arrived at 1:00. To my surprise, there was a sign at the terminal stating that boarding would begin at 11:00am.
Embarking was short and quick, as I had registered online prior to leaving home. We were greeted with punch, drinking water and cookies prior to going through customs, then with a glass of champagne once stepping onto the ship.
The cabin was quite modern compared to the last two cruise ships I sailed on. I liked the interactive TV, where you can order complimentary room service, book shore excursions, and keep informed of daily activities. The water pressure in the shower was wonderful, and there was a great hand held shower head. There was an abundance of cabinets and storage, which was necessary for the additional clothing needed for Alaska. Also included were complimentary bathrobes (nice for going up to the pool and spa) and umbrellas for use at the ports (were needed most of the time).
Following a wonderful welcome aboard buffet, we took a tour of the premium Aquaspa. It was actually a sales pitch, and I ended up purchasing a week long Persian Room sauna package for $99.00. It was well worth it, to be able to relax in peace and quiet in a hot sauna following the cold temperature of the ports. It was also a nice place to retreat after a half hour or so in the Thallasotherapy pool. The pool was a plus, as it was indoors, and was not for use for anyone under 18 years.
Since my daughter and I did not feel like sitting at a table with strangers making small talk this particular cruise, we ate most of our meals in the Casual Dining room. Although the menu was not as elaborate as that of the main dining room, it was still a five course menu and the food was delicious. Reservations have to be made for the casual dining. It was a nice alternative for those of us who did not feel like dressing in formal attire, as there were two formal nights on the ship. There was no buffet for dinner, however the sushi bar, pasta bar, pizza bar, and hamburger/hot dog bar were open late. I also liked the dining option at the aquaspa, which offered low calorie choices. many of the items were quite tasty, particularly the fresh blueberry tart. Actually, all the food offered on the ship was made from scratch, including the breakfast pastries. First class all the way, in my opinion. No plastic forks and spoons on this ship! The ship offered numerous shore excursions at each port. There was something for everyone.
I had booked the shore excursion in Juneau independent of the cruise line, which was a whale watch tour with Captain Larry of Orca Whale watching. The other 2 shore excursions with the cruise line in Skagway and Icy Straight Point were booked online prior to the cruise. Some of the shore excursions were not displayed on the interactive TV. I'm not sure if it was because they were already full, but I would recommend reviewing the excursions prior to the cruise. The naturalist on board the ship was a native Hoonah who spoke mostly about his people who we would encounter in the Icy Straight Point port. The day we landed in this port was the first day of sunshine on our cruise. There was a wonderful beach to walk around on if you did not want to book a shore excursion. There really was not much else to do, so I would recommend booking an excursion. It was a very interesting destination. We arrived and departed from each of our ports on time.
The last day of our cruise was difficult. The water was extremely turbulent and the boat was rocking back and forth all afternoon and evening. I'm sure there were many ill persons that day, including my daughter.
Disembarkation was based on your activities following the cruise. Since we were touring independent of the cruise liner and not immediately for the airport, we were the last to leave the ship. Then there was a mad dash for the Hertz shuttle to pick up the rental car. Others chose to walk with their luggage to the area hotels. It should be noted however, that the hotels are not in the immediate vicinity of the port. This was my best cruise ever, and I would not hesitate to sail with Celebrity again.