This was my 6th cruise and my husbands 7th and our 3rd with Celebrity and we weren't disappointed. We had already sailed aboard the Solstice 2 years ago so we basically knew what to expect. We arrived in Seattle a night before the ship sailed away and stayed at the Holiday Inn and Suites Downtown Seattle. We had prearranged a Shuttle Express shared shuttle to the pier and the pickup was easy and it was very cost effective, I think 20 US a person. The pier is really crowded and it took about 15 minutes from the time we entered the gates until we were in a position to be dropped off. There is where they pick up your luggage and it's a short walk to the check in desk. Having been on so many cruises and especially with Celebrity we were a little disappointed with how long the wait seemed to be. This was the first time Celebrity had given us a "time" to arrive at the pier so we adhered to it but no where was anyone checking this. I wish we would've arrive a little earlier.
We got on the ship at 1:45 and our rooms were ready so we were able to drop our bags off before lunch which was nice and then we sat on the back deck and ate lunch. The food in the buffet was good all week and there are nice fresh buns and bread for a sandwich which is what I ate everyday for lunch. After lunch we had a drink and went to our rooms and our luggage was already there. We started to unpack and then there was the muster drill which was over very quickly and before we knew it we were sailing away.
We had select dining. In the summer we were on a Mediterranean cruise and used the select dining and booked all of our reservations ahead of time and had no problems with waiting or having a good table. We had been told on that cruise that you could request a section and/or server and they would do their best to accommodate that and we ate at the same table every night. On this ship they were unable to accommodate this request but we had booked our reservations ahead of time and did not wait at all for the dining room except on the first night. Most of the time we were happy with the service but once or twice it was really really slow. The food was hot when we got it so it wasn't the servers, it was the kitchen. I think we were maybe eating at the same time as one of the seating's downstairs and they take priority in order to get the second seating in. There are pros and cons to the select dining. You are able to book a different time if you're in port late but you don't get to know your servers the same way when you do in timed seating's. I would still do select on any sailing in Europe or anywhere where the port times are later.
The food was good, not great, while cooked well always the selection was not always perfect. It was the same menu as a few months before on the Reflection down to the dessert and they have a TOP CHEF night and all the food was really weird and we couldn't find anything to eat. We are not picky eaters-we eat all meat and fish-and were unable to find something to like even at the buffet, but at least there is pasta and pizza up there when all else fails. My mom asked for bread pudding one night and they made indivdual bread puddings for everyone at the table. Above and beyond in my opinon.
One thing we really enjoyed on this ship was the naturalist. We have never gone to a naturalists talks but Brent Nixon was not to be missed. He was engaging and passionate and it was infectious. We ended up buying his DVDs that were in the gift shop. Everyday there were 2 talks about relevant things about Alaska and we truly did learn a lot. Don't miss his talks, we looked forward to them everyday. One thing I like about Celebrity compared to some other cruises is that there aren't many kids on board and they don't gear the activities towards kids. I hate the constant announcements and when you're sitting outside you can't have any quiet time because the cruise director is on the horn every 5 minutes announcing something else. This was fabulous, Ben the CD and the captain Tasos were hilarious. He was very easy to understand even with the thick greek accent and he was very funny and approachable. I like seeing the officers around the ship. I also really like on Celebrity how everyone that walks by you no matter which position they hold on the ship they all greet you with a good morning, afternoon or evening.
The entertainment was ok. The first night was a comedian who was hysterical, I wish he would've performed again. The next night was a production show that left a lot to be desired. The Not Three Tenors were amazing. Their voices were really really specatcular and the production show Amade was pretty good. We didn't attend the Rock show or the mentalist. One thing I liked about Celebrity was their duets and string performers around the ship but this time they fell really flat. Their voices didn't mix together and they sounded more like karaoke than paid performers. They were really talented musicians but should've left the singing to someone else.
Disembarkation was really smooth and by the time we were off the ship our bags were already there for us. We had booked a transfer with shuttle express and spent over an hour waiting for them. I think they over extended themselves. The driver didn't seem to know how to load suitcases and asked for help from the passengers and took us down some strange alley before we arrived at our hotel first thankfully. It was worth the price but if we ever leave from Seattle again we will take a taxi when we leave the port.
In summary this cruise was fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone looking to see Alaska. We like Celebrity cruises and will continue to use them but aren't so loyal that another cruise company can't woo us away with a better itinerary and price. The ports were good and and the length of time in the ports was excellent on this trip. The ship was clean, our room and the public areas were well tended to. Never did I see anything that would've worried me around the ship. They're really finicky and chase you around with hand sanitizer basically. There are nice fleece blankets out around the pool so you can comfortably sit around the pool on the nice sunny days and the bar service is really quick. The elevators were fairly quick but on a cruise where not that many people sit outside its no wonder the elevators got more of a workout than we were used to. Overall this cruise was fantastic
We were stateroom 9131 on the port side forward and it was a nice room. About the same size as all their veranda rooms. The front of the ship tends to be a bit bumpy when the seas are rough but it was a good place to be in regards to the elevator. It was a quiet room no noise above or below and no noise from the elevators.
There is a lot of room to store things and the suitcases fit under the bed no problem
The layout is the couch next to the patio door
In Ketchikan we went to the Visitor's information centre and got the town map and followed their walking tour. It was a good way to see the town. There are a few museums and hot spots along the way to see but we felt like we got a good overview of the town.
We had booked the Celebrity Solstice Excursion which was a boat that we would get onto right off the tender platform once the ship had reached a certain point in the fjord. When we woke up in the morning (04:30) as instructed to us by the naturalist on board, Brent Nixon, we found out that we weren't in the Tracy Arm but the Endicott Arm due to too much ice in the passage. Inititally we were a little disappointed as we had done research on the Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glacier, but not the Dawe's Glacier however there was nothing to be worried about. The Endicott Arm was so beautiful and the scenery around was magnificient. The embarkation onto the smaller boat was easy and smooth despite the fact that the Solstice was not anchored and the water was smooth as glass. The crew aboard the boat were very knowledgeable and professional giving us information about the surrounding area. We then sailed up to the Dawe's Glacier and watched the most amazing calving I could ever have imagined. The crew on the boat said they hadn't seen a calving that big ever, it looked like 1/4 of the face of the glacier calved. The resulting wave was huge and the captain was very professional in steering us so we had the least amount of effect of that wave. We stuck around for a bit watching the calving and the lazy harbor seals on the ince that had fallen from the glacier then we started away towards Juneau. The crew told us they would be looking out for wildlife and we would be able to stop and see some on the way. We shortly pulled up to an area where there were Eagles and bears then kept going towards a pod of Orcas. The crew said it was very unusual to see orcas out here and they are really hard to track because their hunting ground is so big and their range is so long. We watched them for about 20 minutes or so and watched a ton of breaching and surfacing. It was amazing. The ride back to the Solstice took about 1hr30 minutes of pretty mundane ocean scenery so my suggestion would be to either bring a book or a neck pillow as it seemed that everyone on the boat slept on the way back. We met right up with our ship in Juneau and the transfer was very easy. I would recommend this trip to anyone hoping for an upclose view of a glacier and the chance to see some whales, although we did see quite a few whales from our cruise ship balcony.View All 50 Tracy Arm Fjord Catamaran Reviews
White Pass Railroad and Skagway Highlights
This was booked primarily because my husband and father really like trains. I had no way to know it would be the most beautiful scenery I've seen in a long time. We were really lucky with the weather that day, the temperature was about 70 degrees, sunny without a cloud in the whole sky. We boarded a bus for the ride to Jasper BC where we were to meet the train. All the while the driver gave us the background on the area and some interesting facts along the way. We stopped 3 times for pictures before getting on the train. The train cars were very comfortable with a restroom on each car however there was no drinking available because of the border crossings. You do need your passport you see Canadian and US customs officers on entry to each country. There are platforms on the ends of the trains where you can stand outside and take beautiful pictures. We even saw bears on the side of the railroad. It was a phenomenal trip and I would recommend it to anyone looking to see beautiful history of the area. There was a tour guide narrating at several points but it wasn't too much. On a cloudy day or rainy however it wouldn'tve been the same trip. You rely on seeing into the mountains for most of the view. There were several times where the train would curve around a corner and you could see the engine. It was fantasticView All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews