Celebrity Infinity Pacific Coastal—Hubbard Glacier Cruise. May 2016
My wife and I took the eleven-day Celebrity Pacific Coastal cruise followed by the seven-day Hubbard Glacier Alaskan cruise in May 2016. The two cruises were a total ... Read More
Celebrity Infinity Pacific Coastal—Hubbard Glacier Cruise. May 2016
My wife and I took the eleven-day Celebrity Pacific Coastal cruise followed by the seven-day Hubbard Glacier Alaskan cruise in May 2016. The two cruises were a total of eighteen days filled with visits to iconic landmarks and views of magnificent scenery and wildlife. The Pacific Coastal is a repositioning cruise for the Infinity as it moves from its Panama Canal season to its Alaskan season. We embarked in San Diego, California, cruised north as far as the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska and returned to Vancouver, British Colombia in Canada for our return flights home. All of our travel, including the cruises, excursions, air fares and hotel were booked through Celebrity, the safest way we have found to reduce the risk of unpleasant travel events.
The Itinerary: The first cruise began in San Diego with stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco in California, Astoria in Oregon, Seattle in Washington, Nanaimo and Victoria in British Colombia, ending in Vancouver, BC. The second cruise began in Vancouver with stops in Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan in Alaska, a spectacular day cruising near the Hubbard Glacier, and a return to Vancouver for disembarkation. The infinity does this route twice a year as it repositions to and from Alaska. Delta airlines flights booked through Celebrity got us to San Diego and home from Vancouver. Our Celebrity booked hotel with transfers was the Embassy Suites, located very near the port in San Diego. Port-to-airport transfers got us efficiently from ship to air transportation.
Landmarks and views: We started with the hotel and port in San Diego which are near the famous museums, zoo and naval operations. Aircraft carriers, one a museum and two operating carriers complete with airplanes were docked opposite the Infinity. Santa Barbara was home to a lot of Spanish inspired architecture. Monterey was our opportunity to stroll along Cannery Row filled with colorful sights. San Francisco sights included the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz, Beacon Hill, the iconic Transamerica building and Fisherman’s Wharf. We could see the Space Needle in Seattle from the ship. Nanaimo, which was new to us, was the historic home to a flourishing, and now nonexistent coal mining industry. The scenery is beautiful. Victoria is the capital of British Colombia, complete with its government buildings. Downtown is interesting complete with a big Hudsons Bay department store, a modern descendent of the famous Hudsons Bay fur trading company.
Icy Strait Point has a new cruise terminal and an enthusiastic native American population. Our visit was late in the day, short lived and cold with beautiful scenery. Juneau is the capital of Alaska in a very scenic mountains (snow covered) and harbor setting. Ketchikan is a classic Alaskan small city with thriving fishing and tourist industries. Shopping was fun. They have a lumberjack show worth attending. Transportation around and between Alaskan cities is either by airplane or boat. Float planes and ferry boats were everywhere. The Hubbard Glacier is a special cruise ship visit. Ships enter the harbor close enough to the glacier to easily see and hear the ice cracking with huge chunks falling (calving) into the water. The glacier is three hundred feet tall and breathtaking in size and magnificence. The sounds are awesome. Ships stay, spin around and take a lot of time so all passengers get a shot at the views.
Ports have shuttles for passengers and numerous options for shore excursions. Float planes, boats, taxis and busses await to take cruise passengers to whatever adventures they desire. We always opt for ship sponsored events to lower our risk of problems.
We saw whales, seals, otters, deer and eagles along with a lot of birds we couldn’t identify. It is great fun scanning the shorelines along the Alaskan inland passage for wildlife as well as enjoying the incredible scenery. Snow and tree-covered mountains are the foundations for nearly every view. They are impossible to adequately describe and photograph. We tried.
The ship and service: The Infinity is a 2001 ship that underwent a major refurbishment in 2015. The interior of the ship was in excellent shape and had new venues added. The top deck movie area, Michaels Club and the Luminae restaurant for suite guests, QSine and the Tuscan Grill specialty restaurants are major changes. All great! The ship looked very good on the inside with new furnishings. The exterior showed some wear but nothing that affected passengers.
The service, typical of the Celebrity brand, was special! Crew members were always helpful. Officers were constantly present. The executive chef, for example, was around nearly every day. Senior officers were available for several events including receptions for past and frequent Celebrity passengers. Nice.
We selected cabin 6116, a sky suite, for the cruises. We are also members of the Blue Chip casino players club. This added to the already special service for us. Our butler, Albino, was there with afternoon snacks and made certain that our cabin was cleaned while we were gone. He provided great advice on ports and processes having been on numerous cruises. The Luminae restaurant is a giant perk for suite guests. A staff of about ten people serve breakfast and dinner daily as well as lunch on sea days. Cevrine, the receptionist, waiters Kavarij and Chitra, Arfin the assistant waiter and Bekir the Maître D along with the others made us feel special at every meal.
Food: The food was very good, nicely presented and well served. We dined on Filet mignon, turbot, shrimp scampi, halibut, cod, lobster ravioli, pork tenderloin, Australian sea bass, scallops, tilapia, roast turkey, pad thai, swordfish, lobster, lamb shank, veal loin, salmon and beef for entrees. Desserts were tasty. The buffett featured roast beef, pork, and chicken along with salads, sandwiches and a wide choice of entrees. Lunch, one day, featured thirty six cakes, all decorative. There was ice cream for every meal and for snacks. The QSine should be on everyone’s schedule. The food and presentations were unique. We found it a great opportunity to sample foods from several countries. Most were very good. Bistro on Five had a special crepe that my wife found to be her favorite. We tried the Tuscan Grille but steak is not one of our favorites.
Perks: We chose the multiple perk package, booked a suite and are Blue Chip casino members. More perks than we could possibly use. People should carefully select every perk they can afford and use. Complimentary drinks, internet minutes, gratuities, on board credit, laundry and specialty restaurant fees were among the choices. Makes the final bill much less painful.
The “booking a cruise on board” is also a significant perk if one plans to take another Celebrity cruise. Just pay attention to the offers. Ours included three hundred dollars of immediate on board credit to offset the three hundred dollar deposit for a cruise with date and itinerary to be determined.
Conclusion: The combined Pacific Coastal and Hubbard Glacier cruises offer a unique cruising adventure that includes major US cities and wonderful scenery. The refurbished Infinity was a very nice and comfortable ship. The entire Celebrity staff was professional and responsive. Many are knowledgeable world travelers and have a lot to offer in the way of information about ports and ships. Read Less