My husband and I are in our early 60's, we travel a great deal on business and pleasure throughout the U.S. and have also been to the Med. on the Millennium. This was our third cruise to Alaska on the Summit. Our two prior cruises were 14 nights from San Diego. This year we selected a 7 night N/B with 6 night land package to Fairbanks May 25-June 7. Our northbound itinerary was Vancouver, Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Seward. One night at the Anchorage Marriott, two nights at Talkeetna Alaska Lodge, one night at Grande Denali Lodge and two nights at Fairbanks Pikes Waterfront Lodge.
We allowed Celebrity to book our round-trip flights from Los Angeles/Fairbanks(Air Canada & Alaska Airlines). Also booked one night pre-cruise hotel at the Fairmont Waterfront. It's a wonderful hotel with a great view of the water and Canada Place.
After great night at the Fairmont we were transferred to the Summit by bus late morning. Being Celebrity Captain Club members we breezed through embarkation and went directly to our stateroom with our welcoming glass of champagne. We booked a CC aft on the starboard side. We prefer aft because it seems quieter with less hall traffic. Our stateroom was immaculate and we immediately met our room attendants who I must say were the best we've ever had on any cruise. I asked for extra down pillows and they were on our bed by the time they were turned down that evening. We headed for the buffet lunch and for a look around the ship. I will have to say that we were very disappointed to see that our favorite lounge (Revelations) still has much of the ugly effects of Cirque du Soleil. Hopefully that will all go away when the ship goes into drydock. We sat outside on the rear deck for sometime and then went back to our room to unpack as all the suitcases were there (my 100 lbs. of clothing mostly). I take a long shoebag to hang inside the bathroom door where I can store lots of stuff.
Muster began just prior to sail-away and we noticed that many people were still boarding the ship due to flights that were held up from bad weather on the east coast. We have early dining and after muster went back to room to freshen up for dinner. We selected a table for six and were very pleased to see we had a huge window next to our table and we could also see out just past the Captain's table. Our tablemates didn't have dinner but one of them came in to let us and the waitstaff know they would be coming the next night. They turned out to be a very pleasant family that we spent many enjoyable evenings. We stuffed ourselves and then took a long walk around the ship before finishing our unpacking. It was a beautiful evening as we watched the ship sail away from Vancouver...our balcony was so comfortable we popped open our champagne and relaxed the rest of the evening. The bed felt great although I know they haven't replaced the mattresses as yet, and I have a bad back...slept like a baby.
We always have breakfast in our room and did so while we cruised the inside passage. We had made appts. for a couples massage that day so went to the T-Pool and then on to the Spa for our massages. Love that place! The T-Pool is free and reserved for 18 years or older. There were a couple of children in the pool but since there was hardly anyone in the pool it didn't have any impact. Had lunch at the Spa Cafe (our favorite). We played bingo and won a bit of money, went to the casino and surprisingly won a bit more. Dinners were exceptionally good and we think even better since our last Summit cruise in 2005.
I won't go into each and every port except to say that we rented a car in Skagway and drove up to Emerald Lake, etc. It's just a beautiful drive. In Juneau we did the whale watch and Orca Point Lodge excursion. Also had booked a private tour in Ketchikan to Misty Fjords. We saw lot and lots of whales, harbor seals, bald eagles and other wildlife. We particularly enjoyed ISP (Hoonah) as we hadn't been there on our other cruises. We took a private tour with Capt. Floyd and had a wonderful cruise around the island. Saw lots of humpbacks, brown bear (one in the parking lot) and also a mama bear with her cub frolicking on the beach. After a great week aboard the ship we disembarked at Seward and took a very comfortable drive on our "motor coach" to the Anchorage Marriott. Marriott was a very comfortable and lovely hotel. Our tour guides were great! They stay with you on the entire coach and train trip. They hand out your keys on the bus pre-arrival and your bags are waiting for you in your room. I had called the hotels ahead of time and requested a King bed non-smoking with a view of the mountains in each hotel and lodge. Celebrity made sure that we got what we asked for each time. That is where I think Celebrity is a cut above - OUTSTANDING SERVICE! Anchorage is a great little city with lots of shopping and we had really nice weather for late May early June. We then took the motor coach to Talkeetna. What a beautiful drive and a great lodge! Our room was looking right at Denali (Mt. McKinley). The clouds had lifted and we had spectacular views of the mountains almost the entire time we were there. We took a float trip down the river, very relaxing. Had a great night sleep.
We boarded Celebrity's beautiful Denali Express to Denali. There were only 32 of us so we had the entire train to ourselves, more than 80 seats. You ride up in the dome portion and the dining car is downstairs. Food was superb as was the scenery. Our guides were young, witty and fun. We arrived at Denali Lodge..very, very nice. As usual our suitcases were waiting in our room. We stayed up late every night as it never really gets dark that time of year. I took a picture of Denali at 12:30 AM and it was still light. The following day we took the Denali Park tour. Saw a huge mama brown bear with two cubs and also a mama moose with her two calves. As nature will have it, the mama brown bear killed one of the moose calves right in front of us. The moose escaped with her other calf by running into our group, never saw people move so fast.
After our tour we then boarded our train for the long trip to Fairbanks. We had a delicious prime rib dinner on board the train( before arriving at our hotel. The hotel is nice but it is located right next to the airport so the noise can be deafening at times. We took the paddlewheel and the goldmine tour...it was lots more fun than we expected. They take you by the Iditorod sled dog camp where they put on an exhibition...quite interesting. Then a bush pilot shows off his expertise by taking off and landing right over and next to our boat. We had planned to take the Arctic Circle flight but since we were pretty tired decided to rest up for our long flight home. If we ever do it again we'll forego the trip to Fairbanks and spend more time in Denali and Talkeetna. Talkeetna has bush pilots that land their planes (with skis) on the glaciers. It's quite an experience.
All in all, we'd say it was our best cruise ever on the Summit and we were very impressed with how well organized the tour was compared to other ships tours. We saw many others waiting in hotels to get their rooms, keys and transportation. We never had to do that. We can hardly wait for our next cruise with Celebrity!