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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Our 44th cruise was with a river boat company, American Cruise Lines, but it was not on a river. We sailed around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, aboard the American Constellation for 10 nights and 11 days. It is a very nice boat, ... Read More
Our 44th cruise was with a river boat company, American Cruise Lines, but it was not on a river. We sailed around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, aboard the American Constellation for 10 nights and 11 days. It is a very nice boat, quite new and offering a good range of river boat amenities, a hardworking and a very pleasant crew. But we felt it was overpriced, and had some weak points. Embarkation We boarded shortly before noon at a marina in Seattle, and the check-in was very fast. We were handed names tags on a ribbon and encouraged to wear them all the time. We were given the usual room key, but were not asked to provide a credit card imprint – a first in our experience. The Captain was there to greet us; and helped with the luggage. We had a snack in the main “Cascade” Lounge on deck three and then went to our cabin. The Stateroom, This is a quite new ship, and the stateroom was in excellent condition. It was quite roomy for a river boat with plenty of drawer space and a small but adequate closet. The bathroom was about the same size as on most cruise ships. The verandah has a sliding glass door, two chairs and a small table. The walls were painted a nice beige shade. There were two armchairs as well as a desk with its chair. Almost all the staterooms were the same, the price differential was according to location. We were on Deck 2, but since it is a small vessel, it was not inconvenient. We were just a few steps from the center of the boat. The Ship If you are on a cruise ship, you are told to call the river vessels “boats”. But American Constellation really looks like a small cruise ship with six decks and a sharp prow. It was built for sailing on open waters, and, as we saw on our visit to the bridge, is controlled by a navigation system that matches the oceangoing vessels we have been on. The top deck is open, with a small putting green. Deck 5 has the “Owners Suites”, a fitness room and a rear sun deck. Deck 4 has staterooms with a library/computer room and the Sky Lounge aft with an open deck. Deck 3 has the main Cascade Lounge forward and staterooms as well as a lounge. Deck 2 is all staterooms except for a lounge. The Main Deck has the Office and Dining Room, as well as some rooms without verandahs. All the decks except the top deck were connected by two roomy elevators in addition to a stairway. The Crew The crew, with one exception, was entirely American. Captain Brown had served in the Coast Guard for many years. He was most pleasant and helpful for the entire cruise. The Cruise Director, Annie was also outgoing and helpful, and most of her comments on the ports were accurate. The wait staff in the main dining room was cheerful and tried their best, but still lacked the skill of those found on the major cruise line. The only non-American on the whole ship was the pianist, from England, appropriately named Jon England. Fellow Passengers As noted, all our fellow passengers were from the United States. We were actually provided with a list of everyone’s names and staterooms. Those who had sailed with American Cruise Lines had their names marked with a star. While the ship would carry up to 175 passengers, we only had 112 on board. Of these 73 had sailed with the cruise line before. Since the company has only been around for a few years, this shows a high degree of loyalty. Since it is easy to forget the names of one’s fellow passengers, the list was quite helpful. As usual, virtually all our fellow passengers were of “a certain age”. The meals were all with open seating, but after a day or two we found a small group with whom we usually ate. The name tags and passenger list did help with recalling people. By and large we were a cheerful lot, and happy to share our differing port experiences and past cruising histories. Dining This was the first cruise in which all meals were served by the wait staff. Each diner was provided with an individual menu, and the back side asked for our choices for lunch and dinner. There was a partial buffet for breakfast, but the hot items were obtained only by ordering them. Actually the breakfast had the widest selection of “main” servings. The lunches were somewhat inadequate in term of choices offered; but it was possible to order items not on the menu. One of our table regulars always had chicken tacos for lunch. I tried them, but this Arizonan with a wide experience in Mexican food, found the Constellation version to be lacking in true south of the border flavor. The dinners were generally pretty good, although no boat this size can match the cuisine on a cruise ship; even smaller ships like the Oceania Regatta or the Crystal Serenity and Symphony. In fact, these smaller cruise ships, including Marina and Riviera as well as the Viking ocean going vessels, set the mark for cruise dining. But the efforts on our trip were commendable, with three main dinner entrée choices plus a vegetarian option for my wife. Desserts were limited, but the baker did an excellent job, and treats were available almost all the time all over the boat. One nice feature was the ability to order half-size portions. As we noted in the “Crew” section, the inexperience of the wait staff led to some mixed-up orders, and on one occasion, a delay of half an hour in getting the lunch main meal served after the appetizers. Shipboard Entertainment This facet of the trip was not bad for a riverboat. We had three pretty good female singers and a five piece band in addition to Jon England and his piano offerings. There was supposed to be a Dixieland band the final night but they did not make it. The Ports Ports and their excursions are normally the highlight of “river” cruises. However the options offered in the Puget Sound area were somewhat limited for first time passengers and the complimentary excursions very restricted, unless you were a prior passenger. We received a one page “Captain’s Sailing Instructions” sheet which detailed all our various arrivals and departures. As on all river cruises, there was a session in the main lounge each night with Annie going over all the shore options for the following day. We had already received a printed sheet of these choices in our cabins after dinner in the daily “Ship to Shore” sheet. We had also been provided on arrival with three pages of all the off-ship offerings and another document showing the prices. Many of these options were too strenuous for me, but the ones we took we did enjoy. Our highlights included a visit to an alpaca farm in Friday Harbor, and a “game farm” near Port Angeles where we fed a variety of large animals such a bears, llamas, bison and deer from the bus. Anacortes, north of Seattle, was our first stop with an interesting history and some tours. We arrived at 8:00 P.M. the first day after a 1:30 P.M. sail-away, stayed all the next day and sailed the following morning west for a two hour trip to Friday Harbor. Whale watching was offered there twice a day, in addition to the alpaca farm, but only the afternoon group saw more than one kind of whale. Friday Harbor is on San Juan Island, one of the San Juan group of islands which are actually northeast of Vancouver Island and Victoria, B.C. The islands became part of the United States after a long running dispute with Canada. It was here we did a tour of the island which included a delightful visit to Krystal and her alpaca farm, where we got to feed and pet the alpacas. We also had a visit to a lighthouse and the town of Roche Harbor. We stayed overnight at a small harbor nearby and then sailed south the next day to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula arriving in the afternoon. There we enjoyed a view of the snow covered Olympic Range. The following day was spent in Port Angeles, because this was the spot from which people could take a boat to Victoria and visit Butchart Gardens, a somewhat pricey trip requiring a passport. Since we had seen the gardens a few years prior to this cruise, we skipped this adventure and instead enjoyed the visit to the game farm in nearby Sequim [which should always be pronounced “Skwim”]. We left Port Angeles early the next morning and sailed east to Port Townsend, which is at the northeast corner of the peninsula, arriving at 10:00 A.M. and again spending the night there. Not too much was offered there by way of excursions except a complimentary walking tour. We sailed early the next morning to Paulsbo, just off Puget Sound, where we tendered ashore on a small ship’s launch and visited the Squamish Museum and Chief Seattle’s grave site. This is a small but very well done museum containing a great deal of history concerning the Native American tribes which inhabited this area. We left Paulsbo in the afternoon and sailed south, arriving in Tacoma at 6:00, spending the night and the next day there. This is a good sized city, but the ship offered only a complimentary excursion and two museum tours. The excursion was by bus and was enjoyable. We left the next morning, sailing north to Bremerton on the west side of Puget Sound. We arrived at noon and left at noon the next day. The only item of any interest in Bremerton is the Puget Sound Navy Museum (free), and that is a somewhat limited venue. Annie had said there was a nice shopping area, but one of our table companions who visited the area said most of the shops were closed. We had a small rain shower here, the only bad weather we encountered on the cruise until our return to Seattle the next day. Back there in the afternoon we took a complimentary bus ride (with a very inexperienced bus driver) to the Pike Place Market area, which was of some interest. We returned to the boat for the final evening and packing. The next day we simply got aboard a complimentary bus (with a much better driver) to the airport and home. We had received our statement the night before with three excursions, and no other charges on it. They have just today appeared on my computer credit card listing. Overall As we noted at the beginning of this review, we felt this cruise was very expensive for what was offered. We have been on some higher end cruise ships; but felt that we got our money’s worth on them. Not so on this cruise. The simple fact is that the food selection was not up to that of an ocean going ship, and it never can be on a riverboat. The entertainment was also far short of what one gets at sea. A friendly crew is nice, but this is true on ships in which the skill and experience of the crew is far better than what we experienced on this cruise. The fact that we were at small ports limited our on shore options. It is also true that most American ports offer fewer tours that can be booked on linethan overseas venues. We noted on our European river boat trips that the vast majority of shore excursions were complimentary, with only a few trips carrying small extra charges. All this being noted, did we enjoy this cruise. Yes, we did. American Constellation is a very nice boat with lovely staterooms, a delightful crew and very attractive small towns on its itinerary. The food was quite good, and the entertainment not bad. We are glad we took this cruise and would recommend it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose the cruise of the San Juan Islands because we were wanting pure relaxation, not non-stop activities. This cruise was definitely relaxing. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth. The ship has plenty of room for the ... Read More
We chose the cruise of the San Juan Islands because we were wanting pure relaxation, not non-stop activities. This cruise was definitely relaxing. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth. The ship has plenty of room for the passengers to not feel crowded. Each floor has a small midship lounge to read, play puzzles, or gather with friends. The 3rd floor has a large lounge where everyone could gather for evening beverages and entertainment. The 4th floor lounge was my favorite. It's at the back of the ship and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Snacks and beverages are available here 24/7. The chairs are comfortable and warm cookies are delivered here twice daily. The crew was always friendly and helpful. Meals were outstanding. Breakfast is a self-serve buffet of cereals, fruit, and yogurt (sometimes salmon as well). Then you sit down to order what you'd like- omelets, quiche, made to order eggs, pancakes (try the banana ones!), French toast, oatmeal... just about anything you can think of. Lunch and dinner are 'ordered' at breakfast time so the chef can prepare enough of each dish, however, he makes extra so if you change your mind it's ok. There are two or three appetizer and main dish choices for each meal. Don't be afraid to request substitutions. The chef handled special requests beautifully. Shore excursions were satisfactory. The Puget Sound/San Juan Islands offers several museums, cider tasting, city tours. We didn't find most of these too enticing and ended up doing our own walking tour of most of the cities. The main exception was in Port Angeles, where we took the tour to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. It involved a 90-min. ferry ride and a 30 min. bus ride. The bus ride was narrated so we were able to learn a bit about Victoria and Butchart. The Gardens are spectacular. Don't miss this tour! We had a room on the 3rd floor, near the elevators. Elevator noise was never a problem, but we could hear the evening entertainment from down the hall. It never went later than 9:30pm, so it didn't bother us. There is a self-serve laundry room (2 washers/2dryers) on the 5th floor. Detergent and dryer sheets are provided. There is a small "gym" with bikes. Water and towels provided. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to take a cruise of the Puget Sound. We took a 10 day cruise on the American Cruise Line Constellation. Prior to that we spent a few days in Seattle where I had never been before. We have taken many cruises and the crew on ... Read More
We wanted to take a cruise of the Puget Sound. We took a 10 day cruise on the American Cruise Line Constellation. Prior to that we spent a few days in Seattle where I had never been before. We have taken many cruises and the crew on this cruise was the most friendly and helpful. The ship caught fire in Tacoma WA. All passengers were evacuated at breakfast time and were able to get back on board for dinner. The ship was docked in Tacoma for three days before the Coast Guard gave permission to leave. At no time did we receive any information about the cause of the fire or reassurance that it would not occur again. American Cruise Lines never contacted passengers regarding the fire or made any offer of compensation for not completing the cruise itinerary. The most interesting excursion was to Victoria Island and the beautiful Butchart Gardens. We had the most expensive cabin. The walls were paper-thin. When the cabin next to us turned on it’s TV we could hear every word as if there not a wall between the cabins. The food was mediocre. I would not recommend American Cruise Lines to anyone. I would advise anyone considering American Cruise Lines to get the Coast Guard report on the fire on the Constellation in Tacoma. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We were hoping to see Orcas and Humpback whales, but we only saw a couple of Humpbacks from a long distance and no Orcas, so this was the only disappointment. This was our third cruise with American Cruise Lines so we were pretty familiar ... Read More
We were hoping to see Orcas and Humpback whales, but we only saw a couple of Humpbacks from a long distance and no Orcas, so this was the only disappointment. This was our third cruise with American Cruise Lines so we were pretty familiar with the way this cruise line operates. We’ve really enjoyed cruising with them because it’s small ship cruising, only about 153 passengers on this trip, and it’s really nice to get to know many of our fellow passengers. Dining is very casual, which is just the way we like it. All the ships in ACL’s fleet are made in the USA and all the employees are Americans, so we love supporting an all American business. The staterooms are really nice, the lounges are attractive and comfortable, as are the decks. The food is delicious, with adequate choices, however, we both agreed that the kitchen on this trip wasn’t quite up to the standards set on the previous two cruises. Still, we really enjoyed the ports we stopped in and especially liked our visit to Victoria, BC in Canada, where we visited Buchert Gardens. Fabulous! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
The Constellation is a lovely, small ship and our cabin was spacious, clean, and very comfortable. The young American staff was delightful, warm, enthusiastic, and helpful. We chose the cruise primarily for the itinerary, and enjoyed the ... Read More
The Constellation is a lovely, small ship and our cabin was spacious, clean, and very comfortable. The young American staff was delightful, warm, enthusiastic, and helpful. We chose the cruise primarily for the itinerary, and enjoyed the tours and the scenery. Some of the guides were terrific. Getting off the ship at some ports was a bit difficult because of the steep gangplank. Another negative was that we sometimes had to walk quite a distance to the tour buses. The soups were the best parts of the meals. All were delicious. The entrees were a bit uneven, however, and the fish often over-cooked. The entertainment was pretty pedestrian, but OK for the older crowd these cruises attract. Actually, we had a pleasant cruise. But …..we will never travel on the American Cruise Line again and this is why. Before we even left on the cruise, we signed up, paid for, and then canceled a trip to Victoria, B.C. and Butchart Gardens when we realized it conflicted with another trip we preferred. On ship, we also had to cancel the transfer from the dock to the airport because our airline changed our fights necessitating using a cab. So, we had a total of $330 to be refunded and it took 4 calls and 6 ½ weeks to get a check in the mail. Although they used my credit card for additional charges incurred on ship, they said “security reasons” kept them from using my credit card for a refund. Didn’t keep the credit card number, they said, and a refund typically takes 5 weeks, requiring multiple signatures! Hello? This is the digital age. How about crediting my VISA account like everyone else? “This is our policy,” was the only explanation I got. So, that ruined the experience for us and we’ll go back to the American Queen Steamboat Company which we have used before with 100% satisfaction. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was a small ship cruise in the truest fashion. The ship's crew went overboard to make our cruise as enjoyable as we have experienced on any previous big ship cruise. When you are recognized by your name and at Happy Hour the ... Read More
This was a small ship cruise in the truest fashion. The ship's crew went overboard to make our cruise as enjoyable as we have experienced on any previous big ship cruise. When you are recognized by your name and at Happy Hour the staff knew your drink of choice, what a different experience for a discriminating passenger. Meals were a gourmet dining experience, no questions there.The dining stewards always aimed to please and near the end of the evening meal, the head chef would go from table to table soliciting comments. Where else can you have an experience of the ship's captain coming to sit with the guests for a meal. On a small ship you give up several big ship amenities, but the trade-off is to get acquainted with the other guests on a more personal basis which we did. The ship interior was clean with plenty of hand sanitizers available. The evenings entertainment was a local musical group usually. Some of the shore excursions were the basic city tours, but others were more involved and well worth the fee, especially Victoria, BC. This cruise is not intended for young children. We do plan to take other American Cruise tours as we heard many positive comments from other passengers about other cruise experiences. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our first experience with cruising US inland waterways. The Puget Sound area was on our bucket list and we wisely opted not to try and cover it by auto. After looking over the ACL information with all the particulars about ... Read More
This was our first experience with cruising US inland waterways. The Puget Sound area was on our bucket list and we wisely opted not to try and cover it by auto. After looking over the ACL information with all the particulars about destinations, port's of call, sightseeing options and schedule options we decided to take a flyer. We were cautioned by our European river cruise travel agent not to expect the same quality of service as in Europe. In fact we were pleasantly surprised with the generally first class service we received on the American Spirit. The staterooms were comfortable and more spacious than we had expected and everything worked. TV reception was marginal but we didn't care. The food and table service was simply exceptional. Some of us really appreciated the half portion entree option. We (our party of eight) had a wonderful table server who attended to most of our meals by our choice. This was her first cruise but she performed like a seasoned professional. The evening cocktail hour was a nice bonus and gave us the opportunity to meet new people. We had a naturalist on board for most of the trip who provided several outstanding lectures on the history of the San Juan Islands in addition to teaching us much about the resident Orcas. Some of the after dinner entertainment was exceptional but none were poor. From the captain on down the ships crew was attentive, responsive and committed to making the cruise totally enjoyable. With one exception the on-shore excursion guides were well prepared and did a fine job communicating and highlighting important aspects of their particular tours. All-in-all it was a fine experience which we hope to repeat in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
Stepping aboard the ACL ship at the Seattle dock, I was instantly transported back in time to the dock in Florida for the first cruise I took on ACL with my husband. The feeling of ‘coming home’ filled me with comfort and anticipation ... Read More
Stepping aboard the ACL ship at the Seattle dock, I was instantly transported back in time to the dock in Florida for the first cruise I took on ACL with my husband. The feeling of ‘coming home’ filled me with comfort and anticipation for the Puget Sound cruise. I love islands and this cruise fills that desire. Not only do I get to visit the islands, but the in house lectures giving background information and history of port stops is entertaining and informative. The programs each night are well planned. Then, there are the delicious meals, I get so spoiled on these trips, I don’t even want to cook when I return home,plus this was a wine tasting cruise. Such fun! The ship’s employees, whether it is the hotel employees or the ship mates, are helpful and much like a family. This was my 6th cruise with ACL, three with my husband and three after his death. I can’t think of another cruise line that would welcome me and make me feel so included after my husband’s death like ACL has done. There is something about the ambience at ACL that makes the cruises exceptional. This is reflected from the administration to the employee—it shows! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
The catalog seems to be different from what we received on the cruise. We complained when the air conditioning did not work properly, toilets did not flush, could not get a bottle of water and public bath room was dirty. There were four ... Read More
The catalog seems to be different from what we received on the cruise. We complained when the air conditioning did not work properly, toilets did not flush, could not get a bottle of water and public bath room was dirty. There were four couples that complained and the cruise line sent a director of hotel operations to talk with us on the fifth day of the cruise. He listened to our complaint and said he was sorry and would see if he could do something for us once he talked to the home office and would get back to us after the cruise. That was 9 days a go so I feel like I was lied too. We were told the college age people working the ship were on 12 weeks contracts and than let go, that's why we felt service like eating at a IHOP and the place was dirty. We have been on river boat cruises in Europe that cost the same $10,000 that have been fantastic and twice as long for the same amount of money. The food was OK but for the cost of the 7 days I thought it could have been much better. We felt this cruise was a waste of money. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Weather was great. Scenery was beautiful. Small towns were nice to walk through. The jet boat excursion and whale watching were two of the favorite extras. Food and accommodations were excellent. Quiet relaxing cruise..not a fast ... Read More
Weather was great. Scenery was beautiful. Small towns were nice to walk through. The jet boat excursion and whale watching were two of the favorite extras. Food and accommodations were excellent. Quiet relaxing cruise..not a fast pace cruise. Enjoyed meeting the other travelers during the meal times. The entertainment was average except the young violin player. She was excellent and we could have listened longer to her. The ship itself is showing some age/use in the common areas, i.e. the couches could use some sprucing up. The food and room service was for the most part very good. Overall, we had an excellent cruise...lived up to our expectations! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We loved our Northbound Voyage of the Glaciers. The scenery was stunning - even more so than I imagined. The cabin was all neat and ship shape.The room was clean and staff helpful and friendly. I found the bed particularly hard and ... Read More
We loved our Northbound Voyage of the Glaciers. The scenery was stunning - even more so than I imagined. The cabin was all neat and ship shape.The room was clean and staff helpful and friendly. I found the bed particularly hard and requested and extra duvet and blanket which I folded under my bottom sheet to create a little more softeness. Staff were friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves. A couple of negatives though. 1. Photography is difficult. The main viewing decks have blue glass all around with small gaps. You have to lean forward and try as best you can to stick your camera in this gap. The blue tint to the glass was very annoying because you couldn't see the actual colours of the scenery. For this reason alone I would not go on Coral Princess again. 2. There was very little information about where we were. We just sailed out and had no idea of the ship's position in relation to the beautiful scenery. I have been on other boats that have a gps screen similar to those shown on aircraft. 3. Getting off at port was confusing - either on decks 5, 6 or 7 depending on the tide. There was no information regarding which deck it was, you just had to try each deck out and see. Surely they must know in advance which deck it will be. Even I can work out the tides at a give port at a given time. And surely they could post the information near the elevators so you don't have to run around each time. 4. Getting into town was difficult if you couldn't easily walk 2 kms or 1 mile. Each town was quite a long way from the ship and they would not hire out wheel chairs. There was no other way to get into town other than walking. No taxi, and a shuttle only in Ketchikan. There were many people hobbling on and off the boat with sticks. Princess call themselves consumate hosts, but there is no way I would treat my disabled guests in this way. 5. Advertising. Grrrrrrrrr. They can't give information, but boy can they advertise. The last straw for us was when my husband was filling in an evaluation form and they asked for our income. Too much Princess. Next time I will try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my 5th cruise with ACL. It happened to be in my neck of the woods so didn't have to fly to get there. The scenery was spectacular. I would have been content to just sit on the boat and sail around looking at the scenery. ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise with ACL. It happened to be in my neck of the woods so didn't have to fly to get there. The scenery was spectacular. I would have been content to just sit on the boat and sail around looking at the scenery. The food, as always, was excellent with plenty of choice and if you didn't see something you liked the kitchen seemed quite happy to fix what you wanted. The servers seemed a little inexperienced so service was not as good as I am used to on ACL. Same goes with the cleaning the cabins. They could have been more meticulous. Most of the senior management was excellent, with the exception of the Activities Director who seemed scatterbrained and unorganized. I felt that sometimes it was because of her that we left late for excursions. Entertainment was so so. I guess I could say it was adequate. The shore excursions were terrific except for the bus overheating on the way to Hurricane Ridge. And even that was interesting because we had 2 deer come down and were very friendly. The onboard naturalist was excellent and very helpful. After all this carping, I have to say this was my 2nd favorite cruise with ACL and I will certainly use them again!!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
Let's begin at the beginning. We stayed the first night at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. This beautiful hotel, a gem in downtown Spokane, has been restored to its former glory. It was opulent in every respect, a fun way to begin the ... Read More
Let's begin at the beginning. We stayed the first night at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. This beautiful hotel, a gem in downtown Spokane, has been restored to its former glory. It was opulent in every respect, a fun way to begin the cruise. Not only was the hotel beautiful, it was efficiently run with a very gracious staff. Check in for the boat was offered at the hotel with many time slots available. This meant that all that was necessary to do upon arrival at the boat was to present your ID and walk to your room where your luggage awaited you. The room, while small, provided more than adequate storage space and was decorated very nicely. The service onboard was excellent. Our room was always refreshed while we were at breakfast and turned down while we were at dinner. The Godiva chocolate on the pillow was a nice touch!. Dining was a pleasure. The wait staff was very accommodating. Austin and Anton, you were great! Now to the food...Excellent is the only way to describe our dinner each night. Dinner was gourmet dining at its best! I certainly hope that the chef remains with the boat because he was excellent.. Shore excursions were also well run. Each port offered as free hop on hop off option as well as a premium excursion. We took both and were pleased with each. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience on the Columbia River on the American Empress. OUr port of embarkation was Clarkston, Washington. However, this was not a choice above. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our seventh cruise with ACL. As always, they didn't disappoint us. The highlight was taking a shore tour to Olympic National Park and the scenery from Hurricane Ridge. It was 46 degrees in June but the view was well worth it, ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise with ACL. As always, they didn't disappoint us. The highlight was taking a shore tour to Olympic National Park and the scenery from Hurricane Ridge. It was 46 degrees in June but the view was well worth it, along with the deer grazing on the hillside. The American Spirit is one of the older boats but the staff kept it clean and neat throughout the trip. Plenty of room in our cabin with lots of places to hang clothes and drawers for other things. Stewards kept rooms clean and neat. Some of the entertainment was better than others. They have local talent from the port we are in come on board to entertain. Food was plentiful and if you didn't like what they had the menu you could ask for something else and if they didn't have something they suggested a similar dish. Being on a small boat (93 passengers) is a plus. Even though some of the people were a little older than us we were able to learn many things from their vast experiences. This is not a cruise for children or young adults. There isn't a lot for them to do. For people who just want to sit and enjoy the scenery while traveling along Puget Sound and seeing a few orcas along the way, and a seal in one of the ports, this would be a trip for you. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
The ship was clean, the dining room was well lit, the crew was marvelous and the cruise was very interesting. The food was well above average, however the way the last dinner was served was not so good. The lobster tail was split but it ... Read More
The ship was clean, the dining room was well lit, the crew was marvelous and the cruise was very interesting. The food was well above average, however the way the last dinner was served was not so good. The lobster tail was split but it was a chore to dig out the meat...A knife slid under the meat of the tail should have happened in the galley. The clothes hangers are a disgrace and hooks on the door of the head and wall of the cabin would ease the crush of clothes in the closet. More FREE excursions would be nice. All in all we had a wonderful time and look forward to our cruise of the Hudson River next year. Namaste', Tom and Phylis Abate Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
This was my first cruise on American Cruise Lines. In comparison to large ships that I have been on, the accommodations are bare boned and stark. Do not expect luxury. The furniture resembles something from a University dorm room. But the ... Read More
This was my first cruise on American Cruise Lines. In comparison to large ships that I have been on, the accommodations are bare boned and stark. Do not expect luxury. The furniture resembles something from a University dorm room. But the bed was comfortable and the shower always had plenty of hot water. The rooms are serviced twice a day so there are always fresh towels and no accumulation of trash. One of the biggest advantages was the window sliding open for fresh air and a very small balcony for close up viewing of marine life. (The balcony was so small it was hard to sit on without crushing your legs but two people could easily stand outside.) This is the perfect cruise for the over 60 crowd and there were about 25% on board with special needs or disabilities. By that I mean the need for walkers, canes, assistance getting on and off the ship. The ships crew is very accommodating for people requiring help. However, they only had two wheelchairs on board. If you think you may need a wheelchair I suggest you bring your own. The average age I guess to be about 73 on the cruise that I was on. There were about 80 passengers on board. There were several cases of 50 something adult children traveling with 80 something year old parents. I loved the ports that we visited. My travel agent had not informed me however that the shore trips were an extra expense. (From other cruises I had been on, I knew this was not going to be the case.) In fact, she erroneously told me that she thought all was included. There was only one complimentary walking tour. Everything else ranged from $15.00 to $90.00. One pays for the shore excursions at the end of the trip along with a standard tip which they consider to be $125.00 per person. If one forgoes the shore excursions, you will miss a lot the areas have to offer such as the two trips to Olympic National Park. Some individuals on our trip hired a private cab at the ports to drive them around. While the staff was friendly, some of them seemed stressed out at the amount of work they were doing. It was also the beginning of the season and possibly they had not gotten the hang of it. The food was above average but not superb in my opinion. Sometimes it was not served at the proper temperature. My French toast that I ordered for breakfast was usually lukewarm. The final dinner on the ship, had some moldy rolls in the bread basket. The wait staff did special things for Birthdays-singing and a cake. The big advantage to this ship is the casual atmosphere, no dressing up for dinner etc. Another advantage for some would be the relative small amount of cruising on relatively calm waters. Every night the ship was docked in a port-the longest cruise time between Islands is 4-5 hours. Not much chance of getting sea sick on this boat. I guess it is all about expectations. If you are expecting a room like you might have with Cunard you will be disappointed. If you expect some beautiful sights, marine life, Native American history of the region and friendly people with similar interests you will have a great time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We embarked from the Shillsole Marina about 6 miles north of downtown Seattle (some taxi drivers seem to have a hard time finding it). Ports visited were all in Washington state -- Anacortes, Friday Harbor, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, ... Read More
We embarked from the Shillsole Marina about 6 miles north of downtown Seattle (some taxi drivers seem to have a hard time finding it). Ports visited were all in Washington state -- Anacortes, Friday Harbor, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Poulsbo, and Seattle. Poulsbo was the only tender port. This was a small ship, with 86 passengers on board. The room was reasonable size, with a small bathroom. Food ranged from average to good, with a lot of salads at lunch, and sometimes even at dinner. The daily free cocktail hour was a big hit, as usual. Crew was very friendly and helpful, and the hotel manager, Chelsea, was exceptional, somehow seeming to be almost everywhere at once. Tours were not great, mostly walking tours of ports. But, we did our own walking tours in many ports. There were also two premium tours offered -- a day in Victoria, B.C. and a whale watching cruise. From the ship, docks, and tours, we saw whales, eagles, deer, and harbor seals. Embarkation and disembarkation were both extremely easy, which is one of the selling points. As this was an "Eagle Society Cruise" for frequent cruisers on American Cruise Lines (ACL), many of the passengers had done 5+ cruises previously on ACL (as my wife and I had also). All in all, we had a good time. Weather turned out to be great, and we enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers, nearly all of whom were very experienced travelers, with numerous prior cruises - both ocean and river. The average age of the passengers was probably in the 70's, with only a few passengers under 60. This is the age group that ACL markets to, and our fellow passengers also seemed to enjoy this cruise as well as most other ACL cruises. You can also get a discount on a future cruise by booking it and putting down a deposit before leaving the ship. So, if you enjoy small ship cruising, with passengers in their "golden years", this would be a good cruise for you. If you are younger and/or looking for active shore tours, this is not the right one for you. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Embarkation in Seattle was good. The Solstice is a beautiful ship. The décor was simple and elegant. The inside stateroom was spacious and comfortable. There was plenty of closet/storage space. Our cabin steward, Peter, was superb. He was ... Read More
Embarkation in Seattle was good. The Solstice is a beautiful ship. The décor was simple and elegant. The inside stateroom was spacious and comfortable. There was plenty of closet/storage space. Our cabin steward, Peter, was superb. He was very attentive to our needs and concerned as my husband didn't feel very well most of the trip. We visited the onboard medical center and was very impressed with the facility, state of the art equipment, and quality of care received there. My husband's Xray showed fluid on the lungs and he received antibiotic and diuretic . The cost was less than I expected. We had purchased the trip insurance, so it will be covered anyway. The food in the café was excellent, with many food stations and a great variety. I do miss the trays that Celebrity used to have. The main dining room Epernay was hit or miss with the food. Some was to die for and some was just so-so. Service was great and we enjoyed interaction with our servers. We had a table for 10 and enjoyed our dining companions. I agree with the reviewer who thought the Americas Cup theme was a misnomer. We did view the two races they had on Sunday in SF. It was very exciting to see, but that was all. There was very little information about it and no enrichment lectures. I'm not a racing enthusiast, but would have liked to learn something about it. The ports along the coast of CA were beautiful. We live in CA so didn't need to book excursions or plan too much adventure ashore. Tendering was an adventure in Monterey, but Mother Nature sometimes just doesn't cooperate. Ensenada to the border was horrendous. My husband is diabetic, so 8 hours without food was concerning. Bus toilets were fllthy or nonworking. Many passengers missed their flights from San Diego. We barely made ours. Will not debark in Ensenada ever again. Just not an option. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We sailed from Seattle on Celebrity Solstice on September 13th on a Cruise that was advertised as an 'Americas Cup' cruise. Have been on Celebrity several times in the past but this was the worst organized I have had the mis ... Read More
We sailed from Seattle on Celebrity Solstice on September 13th on a Cruise that was advertised as an 'Americas Cup' cruise. Have been on Celebrity several times in the past but this was the worst organized I have had the mis fortune to be on. Boarding in Seattle was a breeze. After the first day at sea to San Francisco I noticed the standards and service were not up to the ships I had been on 6 or 7 years ago. You had to try and juggle a dinner plate, soup, coffee, cutlery etc to a table in the buffet. No staff to help, no trays. Dining room of course, you had waiters staff. On our 2nd night in the dining room, our waiters disappeared for 40 minutes between soup and mains. We didn't stay for the rest of the meal and insisted on a different table for the rest of the cruise. The only excellent part of the cruise was our cabin attendant. Above and beyond good service. Now for the biggest complaint. This was advertized as an America's Cup cruise but it soon became evident that either: Celebrity advertised it this way just to fill the ship which would be very dishonest as they seemed to have no intention of giving guests anything in the way of America's Cup information except a day in San Francisco to watch one or two races live and after that..NOTHING. Or perhaps the dope back in head office that decided to call this an America's Cup cruise had no idea that there were more than 2 races, had done no research on it and had not made arrangements to have any kind of TV broadcasts when the ship was in port, or even to have up to date postings on board. There were some day old postings after the service (?) desk received many, many complaints. But they cared less about it and said they had notified head office. I met many people who had come from New Zealand just because of the misleading advertising Celebrity had posted. Then the final kick in the @88 was the bus ride back from Ensenada to San Diego. Do not believe what the Celebrity staff tell you about the trip. I asked several different people on guest service desk and got a 2 hour, a 3 hour and a 4 hour trip.We left at 7am from the ship and it took 6 hours to get to the airport. Our driver got lost and we nearly ended up in the zoo. Fortunately we had a Spanish speaking guest on board who got the driver back on the road to the airport. When you have over 2500 guests in a bus convoy all going through the border at the same time.... Friends, do not EVER go on a ship that disembarks in Ensenada. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
My husband and I have just retired in our early fifties and have been scoping out cruise lines, trying to find "the one." I think we've found "the one" that we will cruise with most often--that is, Celebrity. We ... Read More
My husband and I have just retired in our early fifties and have been scoping out cruise lines, trying to find "the one." I think we've found "the one" that we will cruise with most often--that is, Celebrity. We cruised the Pacific Coast, leaving from Seattle and going all the way down to Ensenada, Mexico. The Pacific Coast cruise on Celebrity Solstice was an excellent experience overall. We had a fabulous time and high recommend the Celebrity Solstice to all interested cruisers. Let me start from the beginning. We boarded at Seattle, Washington. We were met at the airport and bused to the ship. This process was smooth as silk. We did not have to wait too long in line before we were given our ship identification cards. Once inside, we were greeted with champagne and mimosas and were able to go to the Oceanview Cafe' for lunch. It was a bit crowded because everyone was waiting for their luggage and access to their staterooms. Once in our stateroom, we were delighted with its amenities. Although we had only a balcony stateroom, it was well appointed and seemed larger than the stateroom we had on the Princess cruise line. The room had ample electrical outlets, both European and American. It had a couch in addition to a nice size bed. It was pretty and fresh in appearance. The bathroom, in our stateroom, only had a shower but it was glassed in, and didn't have the nasty shower curtain we had in one of our previous cruises. The only down side to a cruise ship room is the hard (extra firm) mattresses. Although our mattress had a mattress pad on it, the mattress itself was so hard that I rarely slept through the night. I asked for extra pillows so that I could sleep on top of them for more comfort. Because the mattress had no give (and I mean none), I woke up with a back ache every morning. I never got a good night's sleep. The hard mattress phenom, however, is not unique to Celebrity. I haven't slept comfortably on a cruise ship mattress yet. When will a cruise line offer a "real" heavenly bed option (something like Sleep Number)? The only thing that could lure me away from Celebrity is if I find a cruise line that offers a comfortable mattress. Our room attendant, Mario, kept the room refreshed, was always available and eager to assist. I asked for extra towels on the first day and he kept the room continually refreshed with towels. Mario refreshed the stateroom twice a day (after we left for lunch or an excursion in the morning) and after we left for dinner in the evening. Mario was always helpful and met every request promptly. He kept the room spotless and neat. We dined at all the restaurants on this ship--Epernay, Oceanview Cafe', Bistro at Five, Tuscan Grille, Silk Harvest and Murano. All of the restaurants offered excellent food. The Epernay had the best grilled New York strip that I have eaten in a long, long time. It was seasoned and cooked to perfection. It also offered escargot daily and a variety of selections throughout the week. The Oceanview Cafe', cafeteria style, was also very good. It had a carving section, with freshly prepared meats. It also had a least a half dozen salad choices, with a regular salad bar. It gave lots of choices--Italian, Asian, Indian, Mexican--with many fresh preparations available. For example, one could choose a fresh stir fry or freshly prepared waffles and so on. We ate at Oceanview frequently and never had a sub par meal. To me, the best meals were found at the Tuscan Grille. Although billed as an Italian steakhouse, this restaurant was that and much more. The appetizers--steak tartare, beef carpaccio, crab cake, etc.--were extremely well prepared and delicious. The main courses--the steaks, the pasta--were also excellent. Most important, the service at Tuscan Grille was superb. If you like crepes, you must go to Bistro at Five--try the banana nutella crepe. Murano's, the french restaurant, was also delicious. We had the chateaubriand--it was cooked perfectly. Silk Harvest, the Asian fusion restaurant, offered a whole barramundi (fried or broiled), that was off the hook good. Silk Harvest had traditional Japanese and Chinese offerings but the barramundi was a dish I tried on a whim, that turned out to be one of the better meals I had on the ship. Definitely try to specialty restaurants but don't turn your nose up at the Epernay which offered great service and great food. We didn't do a lot of excursions. This cruise left from Seattle, stopped in San Francisco, Monterrey, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Catalina Island and Los Angeles. We paid for the hop on/hop off bus excursion in San Francisco which allowed us to tour San Francisco at our own pace. If you choose this option, I suggest choosing a 48 hour pass, not just a 24 hour pass. The ship docked in San Francisco for 2 days. We spent the first day at the piers --watching the America's cup, the seals at pier 39 and going to Ghiradelli's. I wish we had chose a 48 hour bus pass so that we could have explored all of San Francisco in more depth. We were able to go to the Golden Gate Park and China Town. My husband walked across the Golden Gate bridge which I believe was a big highlight for him. The next excursion we took was a trip to the San Diego Zoo. We got there early enough to avoid large crowds and were able to see all part of the park, except for the pandas (very long lines there so if you want to see them, go there first). San Diego Zoo is a must-see if you haven't been there before but it takes all day, thus no other excursions can be taken if you choose it. It required a lot of walking but did offer bus tours and stops as well as ski lifts from one side of the park to the other. My husband insisted on walking the whole time so by the end of the day, I was totally worn out. We did not go to Monterrey, Los Angeles or Santa Barbara as we preferred to relax on those days and simply enjoy the amenities of the ship. We did tender into Catalina Island and were pleasantly surprised by the Arts and Craft Fair they offered. It was a very pretty place and definitely worth the trip. I was able to take some wonderful pictures of the Celebrity Solstice as well as the picturesque island. The ship offered dozens of activities within a 24 hour period, so many in fact that the average cruiser will not be able to partake of all of them. The big highlight for me was the cruise entertainers. Many cruise ships offer average or mediocre entertainment but not Celebrity Solstice. The comedians were really funny, especially the one who did imitations. The ship also gave a cirque de soleil type show that was simply fantastic (Celebrity: The Show) and I definitely recommend it to all. The singers and dancers were superb. Singers were found in almost every lounge and bar area. I particularly enjoyed Jonny Mantra--who had an unusual voice and exceptions musical abilities. Celebrity also has a separate movie theater--passengers can watch the movie there or in their rooms for free. The movie showings were quite good. The Sin City Comedy show (offered late at night due to adult content) is very funny, unusual and a must see. We did not take advantage of bocce on the lawn but I think I'd try it the next time I go on a Celebrity cruise. My husband and I did not go to the casino but it seemed very busy and a large number of people were drawn to it. The Celebrity's attempt a karaoke didn't seem to work well. Often fostered in Quasar, few people showed up or one lone singer would be belting out a tune (often poorly) and it scared everyone out. I hope they can fix the logistics because in a crowd of preferably inebriated people, I like to do karaoke occasionally but I don't want to the be sole attraction. Numerous self-help seminars and educational talks were available on the ship. My husband and I went to the gym every day. The treadmill machines were out of date. It was hard to set them up for interval walking and to also watch television. They were functional at a minimum level and I was glad to return home to my regular gym. We did not take advantage of aqua class activities but I would like to do so in the future. The Celebrity Solstice is a beautiful ship. It is well-designed, and beautifully decorated. For a large ship, it does not feel crowded even in the cafeteria. It is restful and peaceful in the staterooms but plenty of action outside for those who want it. The Sky Observation room offers great views and a wonderful place to read a book or take a nap. On the last day of the cruise, the ship before our departure offered us breakfast. We could get breakfast between 5:30ama nd 7;00am. We all really appreciated this so that we could be fortified for our journeys back home. The only downside to this cruise experience was the trip from Ensenada to Tijuana. We boarded a bus, traveling from Ensenada, Mexico to the Tijuana border crossing, at 7:30am. We waited in the bus, at the border crossing, for about three hours and didn't reach the San Diego airport (via bus) until 1:00pm. My husband and I, as well as many other passengers, feared we would miss our flight. This was not a perfect end to an otherwise perfect cruise. Passengers were frustrated and angry. I hope Celebrity will find a solution to this problem. We were told that the journey would only take two hours. Spending the day on the bus was less than desirable. I definitely plan to cruise with Celebrity again. It was a marvelous ship and crew. Bon voyage!   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
My wife and I have been home for two weeks or so and have mellowed from our anger. Time really does heal all wounds. We are both avid Ocean Sailing fans and, to us, the America's Cup Yachting event in San Francisco was theWorld Cup ... Read More
My wife and I have been home for two weeks or so and have mellowed from our anger. Time really does heal all wounds. We are both avid Ocean Sailing fans and, to us, the America's Cup Yachting event in San Francisco was theWorld Cup Soccer Championships and the superbowl, all rolled into one. As beautiful and world class the celebrity Solstice is, it is a Business. Businesses are run from other places, in other cultures that, I have now learned, may not have an understanding or appreciation for my sports passion. But, to highlite the event in the title of the cruise does set up certain expectations that were grossly unfilled. We boarded two days in advance of our overnight in San Francisco, where the Regatta was staged. The Challenging nation, New Zealand had, the previous week, put the American boat all but on the ropes; needing but two more victories to walk away with the revered trophy. The first of those two races was scheduled during the day that we were sea. There was no television coverage (NBC Sports) and You Tube made the entire race available), no information in the daily newsletter, no "Brain Candy" prepared for the more than 800 passengers who were of common interest. The one point of light was the sailing expert who lectured in the great hall. "Celebrity", your ships are great, your programs are run of the mill, your food is good, your service has its ups and downs. BUT, Your program planning my be lack creativity and culture sensitivity. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Had I read their description on your site, I might have been a little more prepared for what I experienced and may have decided not to take the trip. The attraction for me initially was the Puget Sound/San Juan Islands itinerary. The ... Read More
Had I read their description on your site, I might have been a little more prepared for what I experienced and may have decided not to take the trip. The attraction for me initially was the Puget Sound/San Juan Islands itinerary. The delightful time I had last year on a European riverboat cruise drove me to replicate the experience in the U.S. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges, but my expectations were driven by my experience last summer. The cruise is quite expensive based on the amenities. American Cruise Lines attributes that to higher American salaries and higher taxes on the cruise line than boats/ships registered under foreign flag. Also, I'm not sure there's another American cruise line to drive competition. As it states in the profile, it truly does have a niche market with an older demographic. But I mean MUCH older, probably averaging 80 years old. The excursions are tailored to that age group as are the onboard activities/entertainment (or lack thereof). The boat is really QUIET by 10 p.m. The crew, though really friendly and helpful, were young people for whom this is not necessarily a career. With the exception of the "managers," the remainder of the crew have a 3-month contract, so there's a lot of turn over and not much depth. I agree with the person who described the cabins as reminding them of a hospital room. That really captures it. I had thought sort of as a relatively inexpensive motel room. So in terms of value for $$, I won't be traveling American Cruise Lines again. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
First, a little about ourselves. We are experienced cruisers, and this was our 24th cruise on Celebrity and our 3rd on Solstice. We are in our late 50’s/early 60’s, and while we enjoy meeting new people our real goal is relaxation more ... Read More
First, a little about ourselves. We are experienced cruisers, and this was our 24th cruise on Celebrity and our 3rd on Solstice. We are in our late 50’s/early 60’s, and while we enjoy meeting new people our real goal is relaxation more than socialization. It was our first cruise on the California coast, as our other cruises so far have been to the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mexican Riviera when that was an option. It was our first experience in Aqua Class. As I have a lot to say in general, I will skip overall definitions of the ship and its facilities as those can be found elsewhere. Overall cruise comments " A fantastic itinerary, a beautiful ship, and an overall great time. For this ten day cruise the average age in my estimation was 65-75. I literally saw only three children onboard, but there may have been a couple more. Pros: Nice itinerary with some very interesting American cities with a lot to do, ship still in very good condition, service excellent in most cases, food good, and the usual entertainment. Cons: Three tender ports (one of which was a great adventure " see below), a so-so experience in Blu, takes up to 2 hrs or more to tender everyone from the ship which causes difficulty to those renting cars to go on their own, worst casino on any Celebrity ship. As many of these ports rarely see cruise ships, and even more rarely the size of Solstice, they were not as prepared to handle the crowds as other ports we have been to. In most cases if you wanted to rent a car it was a logistical challenge, if not nightmare, especially considering the limited time in port and extra challenge of tendering. Aqua Class " We had never tried this before and since it was not much more expensive, we chose it primarily for Blu. We had room 1580, on the 11th floor under the pool deck. It was so cool outside most days we could not really evaluate whether the location would be noisy. When on our deck we could hear footsteps above us. We did not like the large overhang which shaded the balcony at all times and did not allow us to see up into the foothills of ports like San Francisco. We only had two sea days so really did not make much use of the spa, which was in no way big enough to accommodate the number of AQ passengers. We also did not enjoy being on the 11th floor as elevator riding was an exercise in patience. Our room steward was great " no issues there at all. Blu " We expected a lot, and were disappointed in some ways. The food was very good (only one so-so dish) and the asst. waiters were excellent. The regular waiters ran hot and cold. Sometimes we got really good service, other times poor " we had to actually get up and talk to the hostess one night to get service. We did not like how the” two tops” were crammed together, making it impossible to have a private conversation and awkward if the couples on either side of you were not inclined to chat. There were three large tables that were often empty, despite the fact that on several nights the wait time was as much as half an hour to get a table. More practical would be all two top tables which could be put together as needed - this would have helped solve the problem. I suspect also that suite guests are no longer seated as available’ but are given the same chance as the AQ folks. I do not like this, at use of this restaurant is a key perk of AQ, the room for which it was designed. There were usually two sommeliers, one of which was horrible (complete lack of service), and one of which was ok. Elite events " We had vouchers, which overall we liked better, although we miss the days of quiet social times in Michaels Club. My one complaint is that with the number of Elites onboard, they really should have also extended the social hours. Between 5 and 7 the bars were sometimes literally so crowded seating was hard to find (including the Sky Lounge!). We did like the fact that they offered us more choice of drinks " within a certain dollar amount rather than just a few options. They need to up their beer allowance, though " why are beers only up to $5 but other drinks $8? Not fair I think. And one last comment " anyone who thinks being Elite is of little advantage has never taken a cruise with so much tendering! Being able to leave the ship on an early tender was a very, very valuable perk. San Francisco " We had an overnight stay which was great " allowed us to take our time and not feel rushed like we did in the other ports. The ship docks right down the road from Pier 39. Easy walking distance there, and to Ghiradelli Square and that general area. The second day we took a private tour organized by someone on our roll call which we enjoyed. The Americas Cup was running, and the finish line was literally in front of the ship. We got to see two races, one of which the USA boat won. A once in a lifetime for us. Monterey - A nice pier right next to where the tenders unloaded. We rented a car (Hertz, who picked us up but not without hassles), and drove the 17 mile drive, stopped at Pebble Beach, and spent some time in Carmel and at the Mission. All in all a great time until we got back to the pier and saw the 45 minute line to get the tenders. Why? The wind and subsequently the seas had picked up " seas were up to 10’ . What a roller coaster ride " have never experienced anything like it. The boat was rocking and rolling like you wouldn’t believe and water was pouring through the side door where one of the zippers was broken. I do not exaggerate! Our tender half-unloaded once we finally arrived and then one of the ropes snapped and the captain of the tender yelled at the crew to detach the other. Thankfully we had already disembarked the tender. Someone could have been killed had they fallen in when the rope snapped. That tender boat and the remaining additional two had to ride the waves for close to half an hour while the ships’ Captain turned on the thrusters to create a small area of calm water next to the ship so the tenders could unload. The port is so beautiful I am glad we were able to have our day but I question whether in retrospect that was the correct/safe decision by the Captain, presuming the weather was forecasted. Kudos to the crew for handling the challenge so well! Santa Barbara " Tendering again " no issues this time. A beautiful town we had never visited before. Word of caution " there was only ONE public trolley running that day. We bought tickets online ahead of time and were happy we got to the trolley stop very early. Others had done the same but could not board as it was full " they were quite unhappy as the trolley only stops near the dock every hour or longer. We could not use it as we had originally intended (hop on/hop off) as we knew we would have issues trying to get on again. On a cruise day, I cannot honestly recommend this option. Rent a car or cab it. We loved the mission, the town, and the funk zone. A beautiful area. Catalina Island " Tender #3 " again no issues. I guess we had not learned our trolley lesson as we took the trolley up to the botanical garden. The trolley was inexpensive, but again there were significant issues with overcrowding. The garden itself is small but nice " we have a reciprocal agreement with a local garden so got in free " not sure I would pay the regular price. The town has some nice shopping and cute restaurants in easy walking distance of the pier, and the casino is a short walk as well. I would love to visit again. Los Angeles " Ugh. Traffic as bad as expected. We had been there before (albeit years before) so rented a car and skipped the usual touristy spots. We drove to a museum we had always wanted to see " the Autry Museum of the West I believe it is called. A very, very nice museum, but plan up to 1 ½ hours to and from. The ship actually docks in San Pedro, which is a considerable distance from…...well, almost everything. They did have a free shuttle to Long Beach which has a number of attractions and an inexpensive shuttle bus in-between. Unless you have a must-see in LA I would do that next time for sure. Renting a car and driving is an exercise in patience and frustration. San Diego " A lovely town with a lot to see. We had been several times, so rented a car and took in Old Town and some other sights. They have a great zoo, but be advised it is quite pricey. We had seen it before so did not want to spend the $$ for such a short day (onboard at 6 if I recall). Same for SeaWorld. Too much $$ for such a short time " we wish they could overnight here as well. Disembarkation in Ensenada " What can I say " we were on a very early bus so our transit time took around 3 hours and our bus and driver were decent. Others on our roll call had horror stories to tell " from buses full of ants, to overflowing toilets, to 3 hour waits at the border crossing, to bus drivers getting lost. This is completely unacceptable and Celebrity needs to do more to fix it! I would hesitate to take this cruise again because of the issues still experienced by many. Celebrity also needs to change their literature to NOT tell cruisers the transfer takes two hours. Ours went very smoothly and took longer than that. The ride itself should take two hours " no way of knowing what the border crossing time will be. I know their hands are somewhat tied as they do not control Customs but I would think they could negotiate a more smooth process with the governmental powers that be if they tried. They need to try. In summary, this was a very enjoyable cruise, if not necessarily that relaxing due to our own desire to cram too much into each port, while dealing with tendering, car rental, etc.. I wish Celebrity would consider more cruises along the west coast. Once Vancouver can handle S class ships (or has that happened?) I wish they would run some cruises up and down the coast and expand their choices beyond Alaska or Hawaii. Hopefully if they start or end in Vancouver they could avoid Ensenada - presuming that would satisfy the government regulations. The ports all have so much to see and do in nice, clean, safe, and beautiful areas I suspect they would sell-out regularly. We would definitely be one of the first to book if that happens based on this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
After cruising 17 times with Royal Caribbean, we decided to try Celebrity. Our research found several "west coast" offerings, which would be so convenient, as we live in Las Vegas; and east coast departures often require ... Read More
After cruising 17 times with Royal Caribbean, we decided to try Celebrity. Our research found several "west coast" offerings, which would be so convenient, as we live in Las Vegas; and east coast departures often require preceding-day travel. The 11-Nights Wine Cruise appeared terrific! Celebrity Century is older, smaller, and less "flashy" than the newer ships . In addition, this itinerary included ports such as Astoria, OR and Monterey, CA that we would not necessarily visit otherwise. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, this cruise proved to be the worst of our 18 experiences. Positives first: Because we normally book junior suits on RCCL, we accepted the fact that our C2 cabin (1025) would be much smaller. However, the cabin was neat, had adequate storage, was very well maintained, and supplied plenty of high-pressured hot water. Our stateroom attendant was excellent, as were the amenities. Secondly, Celebrity is known, supposedly, for a higher-quality dining menu. We found the dinner meals to be different from those on RCCL; but in terms of higher-quality, we saw no difference. However, as compensation, the dining room is beautifully appointed, and our waiter was second to none. From there, everything was downhill. Cabin 1025 is partially situated just beneath a storage area/cooler for the poolside bar. We were awakened between midnight and 12:30 AM the first two nights by heavy pounding, rolling, and scraping noises from above, which lasted about a half-hour. On the third night, we reported the problem to the concierge, who immediately sent an officer to our cabin. We explained the situation, and all was rectified. The next afternoon we found a bottle of wine in our cabin. On the fifth night, we experienced rougher than normal seas. Something fell from a shelf in that area above us and rolled back and forth for some time. Reluctantly, we just dealt with it. "Morning announcements" were frequently made between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM--obviously, we missed most of them! What a disappointment the buffet turned out to be! For starters, there was no coffee for five of the mornings. Most mornings had no mugs--paper cups had to be used. This was most startling, considering the fact that patrons were encouraged to use trays since plates were considered too hot to handle. What's hotter than coffee/tea in paper cups! On two occasions, I had to argue with personnel about carrying my own plate without a tray. On a third occasion, I was not handed my bacon and eggs without a tray. During most of the lunches we had on board, only one of the four ice machines dispensed any ice. The line for ice cream was often 15 to 20 people long, and the line for pizza was most baffling. Despite line length, fresh pizza was not placed into the oven until the last baked piece was distributed. This, I learned, after a really bazaar experience: One afternoon, I asked a chicken-caesar salad. There was no romaine lettuce. A request had been sent to the chef. While I waited, the buffet director strolled by and asked what the problem was. After talking to the salad maker, the director called someone on his cell phone. Ten minutes later, no lettuce and I walked away and went poolside to get a hot dog. There were six people ahead of me in that line when I heard the cook tell the first person in line that her hot dog/hamburger would be another 5 minutes or so. As such, I went back into the buffet for some pizza. The specialty of the day was pepperoni, and there were three people ahead of me, and no pizza under the warming lights. A pizza was shortly pulled from the oven and cut into six small pieces, two each to the three individuals ahead of me. At that point that I became number one in line, and a fresh pizza was put into the oven. Not wanting to wait any longer, I went back to the chicken-caesar preparer only to learn that he was still waiting for the romaine. He apologized, and after several minutes picked out romaine from the larger bowl of mixed greens and made my salad the best he could. However, the plat de résistance was one morning when the buffet had no cups, plates, bowls, flatware. Employees just stood around and said, "we have no...." Speaking of employees, at no time did any of the cruise staff smile and ask if we were enjoying our cruise--something unheard of on RCCL. The cruise director was horrendous, and was only most enthusiastic about promoting his past working experiences with the late Steve Irwin. Activities were minimal during the day, and nearly nonexistent in the evening. We frequented the "Martini Bar" after the show each night. Our server from Ukraine--her first cruise--was an absolute charm! She had more enthusiasm and pleasantries than all the other staff combined. However, the bartender was more concerned with his imitation of Tom Cruise juggling unopened liquor bottles--dropping and breaking three of them in our presence alone--than he was doing his job. Each evening, we had to request the piped-in music to be toned down because we couldn't hear one another. As "Elite" level members, we attended the predinner cocktail event the first two evenings. The lounge was so short staffed that we had to obtain our own drinks from the bar. Apart from that, we were unaware of any other "special events" for "Elite" members. Guest entertainment was very good, with the exception of a trite magician; but the production numbers were mediocre. Embarkation was smooth. Leaving/reentering the ship at the various ports was often slow and problematic. Metal detectors were much too sensitive, going off for no reason and holding up the lines. In Astoria, while reboarding, 217 (I stopped counting) stood in the misty rain for almost a half-hour waiting for cruise personnel to come down the gangway assisting an individual in a wheelchair. We stood, despite the fact that a second gangway was set up and operational; but personnel were shorthanded and believed the second gangway to be too steep. Disembarkation was crazy! We requested 8:00 AM departure, but received 8:30 tags. Although the ship was to be cleared by 10:00 AM, cabins had to be vacated by 8:00 AM. We found little, if any, breakfast and insufficient seating capacity in the assigned lounges. In summation, on our last RCCL cruise, we booked an Alaskan cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. Having convinced friends of ours who have never cruised before to join us, we made reservations for them the second night about the Century. Needless to say, when we got home, we cancelled both reservations and booked an Alaskan cruise on Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was not our first cruise but our first with Celebrity. Having heard great reviews from many, I was astounded when the Solstice fell so short. I was told the food was great. It was mediocre in the dining room but the specialty ... Read More
This was not our first cruise but our first with Celebrity. Having heard great reviews from many, I was astounded when the Solstice fell so short. I was told the food was great. It was mediocre in the dining room but the specialty restaurants were nothing short of wonderful! Traveling with a wheelchair, I encountered several problems. First, the elevator door didn't sense my presence and jammed into my wheel, taking a chunk out of the wheel and ripping off my foot rest. Needing to check with guest services early on for departure, I disembarked in my wheelchair to the surprise of the ground services and had to have things rearranged to accomodate me. Excursions were really disorganized. I am used to Princess. People are preassigned to buses and there is always staff to lead you in the right direction. Not so with Celebrity. You get off the ship and you might see staff and then no one until you get near the buses. (If you are lucky, they are nearby!) Not all was bad. We had the best room steward EVER. Most of the onboard staff was extremely helpful, courteous and friendly. Never saw so many smiles. Jury is out whether we will revisit Celebrity. Read Less

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