About me: Solo traveler, experienced cruiser (stopped counting around 20), second time on the Alaska cruise itinerary, first time on Celebrity.
This was by far one of the best cruise experiences I have had in a very long time. The staff and crew were all very friendly and accommodating, the officers were accessible, and Captain Tasos was one of the most entertaining captains I've sailed with - ever.
Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. We were docked next to the Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas. Looking over at the enormously long lines on that side as opposed to the Celebrity side, I was grateful to be on a smaller ship. The ship itself is a bit weathered but I would still call it well maintained considering its age. It did not take long to get acclimated to the locations of various venues throughout the ship, and although there were long wait times for elevators on port days, getting around was not difficult.
Cabin: I sailed in Aqua Class and the only drawback was that there was some sort of overhang over my balcony that I did not know was going to be there. Although it did distract from an overhead view of the sky a bit, it did not deter from the majestic views of the glaciers and scenery. More in the cabin review section.
Dining: Since I was in Aqua Class I dined mostly in Blu. The food there was very good, although advertised as "California Cuisine" or "a healthier alternative", I did not notice a difference in quality. For specialty dining, my favorite was by far Murano. Not only did they have a tasting menu that included wine pairings, the service and food were exceptionally outstanding. I also tried Sushi on Five, which for me was not so impressive since I have access to good sushi where I live. Although everything I had was tasty,the service was a bit lack-luster. I dined in the main dining room once for dinner, and found it to be above par compared to other cruise lines in this category. The buffet, well, it's a buffet. The food on the buffet was good compared to other cruise lines, however the typical difficulties finding a seat during peak times was not unusual. If I could have had all my meals in either Murano or Blu, that would have been fine by me.
Entertainment and Activities (and More Dining): I did not make it to any of the big production shows, but that's just me - sometimes they work with my schedule and sometimes they don't. This cruise, none of the showtimes were convenient to my personal schedule, yet I did not feel I missed out on anything. Silent disco - that was definitely fun to watch, especially when everyone started singing along. My absolute favorite activities - wine tastings, cooking class, and chef's table special dinner. What an experience! Again, this is just me, but I do love a good wine tasting/food pairing, and this cruise did NOT disappoint. There were the run of the mill wine/food pairing classes, a wine tour around the world (progressive wine tasting sampling multiple countries), a special Riedel wine glass class where you received a voucher for 4 glasses to be shipped to your home (mine have already arrived), and also scotch/whiskey tastings. I think I did all of them with the exception of the whiskey since scheduling did not permit. The sommeliers really know their stuff, and the cellar has an excellent variety of wines. Ah-mazing! There was a cooking class offered in Murano, where we put together our own appetizer in the galley and then were treated to a chef led demonstration of cooking sea bass and steak Dianne. It ended with us eating our appetizer and feasting on what the chef prepared with, of course, more wine pairings. The best experience was the chef's table. It is an add-on where you are part of a group of 10 or so people that receive a private galley tour, seeing the various galleys in operation during dinner service, and then ending up at a private table in Murano with a very extensive tasting menu with perfectly paired wines, and the chef joins you for the main course. It was definitely worth every penny!
Service: The service I received on this cruise was by far some of the best I've experienced in quite some time. Staff knew my name and I had no idea if I'd ever seen them before. I began to wonder if I'd done something to stand out, but I suspected they kept a pool behind the scenes to see how many of them could remember the most passenger's names. That extra little personal touch made it so much more enjoyable. My room steward was exceptional, all the wait staff was great, and I have to call out the sommeliers and cellar master as being phenomenal. Overall, service for me was top notch on this journey.
Ports and Shore Excursions:
Ketchikan: I took the Deadliest Catch tour, and it did not disappoint. The boat picks you up right next to the ship and the crew of that vessel was not only knowledgeable but also very entertaining. They took us on a little cruise to pull up some bait lines, pull a crab pot, and also had red king crab available for purchase to snack on during the tour. Overall it was an amazing time and I'd definitely do it again.
Endicott Arm: No excursions, just stayed on the ship as we sailed through the glacier area and took in the amazing scenery. They even circled around a few times so everyone could get the most breathtaking views. It is truly a thing of beauty to see this scenery.
Juneau: I opted to not take an excursion but instead go eat king crab at Tracy's Crab Shack by the port. It's something to partake in for the whole king crab eating experience. Not only are the legs huge, but they have a great bisque and some pretty tasty crab cakes if you can fit it all in. It's a LOT of food.
Skagway: Opted for the "Big Nugget" tour which included going to the dredgery for a tour, panning for gold, learning about mushers, meeting husky puppies, bottling our own root beer, and BBQ. Since our group turned out to be very small (I think may 6 or 7 total), it was almost like a personal tour. Our guide was great and the overall experience learning about the history was definitely worthwhile.
Victoria: No excursions there, just went into town and hung out a bit. The town has a lot of history and there were many options that I felt I needed to explore but just did not have the time.
Overall Impressions: I'm ready to go again! Same itinerary (same crew if I could have them), and same ship.
The cabin itself was well maintained and although there was an overhang over the balcony the view was still great. A bit about the advertised benefits for AquaClass:
Pillow Menu - I was never offered one nor did I ask for one. The pillows that were provided were satisfactory.
Blu Restaurant - This was a good bonus, being able to pop in for a meal without having to deal with buffet chaos or main dining room crowds was a big plus for me.
Spa Concierge and Private Spa Tour - I was never offered a private spa tour and when I asked about the spa concierge no one really knew what I was referring to. I did have a couple of services in the spa and did not run into any problems booking.
Exclusive Access to Persian Garden - I went in there a couple of times to take a look and all the beds were full, opted not to try again.
Sparkling Wine/Canapes - Did receive the sparkling wine, was a nice touch. The canapes each night were kind of hit or miss. Some nights were better than others but overall it was nice to have a snack available between wine tastings and nightly activities.
This was a tour to kill time after disembarking and included an airport dropoff. The tour was timed just right for each stop (panoramic view from a tall building, pike place market, and starbucks).View All 56 City Tour Reviews
I would highly recommend this tour - there is a nice little surprise that awaits, and my biggest tip is to bring your camera!View All 125 Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour Reviews
This was a combination of gold panning, meeting the dog sled dogs, bottling root beer, and bbq. It was full of history and information, and included a few flakes of gold.View All undefined undefined Reviews