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12 Seward to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

This was the third cruise on NCL for my husband and me. Previously we've cruised aboard the Pearl (our first-ever cruise, in 2010) and the Jewel (in 2011). We would've rated both of those ships excellent. We are a bit ... Read More
This was the third cruise on NCL for my husband and me. Previously we've cruised aboard the Pearl (our first-ever cruise, in 2010) and the Jewel (in 2011). We would've rated both of those ships excellent. We are a bit concerned that either the Sun has not been maintained to the level of those other two ships, or the entire maintenance of NCL has slipped in the intervening four years. The Sun shows some obvious "wear and tear" and a lack of some good thorough cleaning in the public areas (like around the gorgeous panoramic lifts on deck 8, where the carpet was very dusty and the hallway was used as a staging area for housekeeping's linen carts and cleaning supplies). The observation lounge on deck 12 shows some serious damage at the very forward set of seating, looking out over the bow, where the wood at foot level is broken and chipped in several spots. All that said, we LOVE the freestyle cruising and all the options aboard any NCL ship. The food is really excellent, whether in the main dining rooms or the Garden Cafe. (We don't use the specialty restaurants because of the cover charge.) The staff in every area and venue is friendly, always smiling and greeting us (the cabin steward called us by name from the first day, and recognized us in the halls!) The spa is great, and I enjoyed my exotic hand ritual from Mandy. The entertainment choices were awesome. We especially enjoyed Amber Strings, a trio from Poland who played several times a day in the Atrium on Deck 5 - an amazing range in their repertoire, and all of it just excellent. We submitted a commendation on them, and purchased a CD. We also enjoyed Into the Drift, playing in the Observation Lounge. Our shore excursion to Icy Point Strait, Hoonah, AK, was just simply awesome. We took a whale watching tour on the American Eagle, and saw a pod of whales. Incredible. They also had a Tlinget cultural historian on board, Kevin, who gave an excellent talk on his people and the history of Hoonah, Icy Point, and how the Native corporation that owns Hoonah achieved a place on the cruise ship ports of call. Our opinion: this is the BEST port of call in all of Alaska, with a Zipline, ATV and wilderness cruises, boat cruises, excellent shopping (all Alaska products and local artisans), delicious food, nature trails in the rainforest and on the beach, Tlinget history and culture -- just can't say enough about this port of call. We spent more money here than in any other port on any other cruise, getting our holiday shopping done 6 months early with good value for our money and nothing "made in China." This cruise was coupled with a land tour of Denali National Park first, and that 4-day excursion was also excellent. We had a great NCL tour guide for the entire four days, Michael Krudwig; were housed at three very nice lodgings in Anchorage, Denali, and Girdwood; and had several great excursions associated with this (an 8-hour wilderness tundra tour with an Alaska resident, Lisa Frederic, who was full of interesting facts, history, and knowledge, including having run the Iditarod once; a visit to an Iditarod kennel owned and operated by Martin Buser, an Iditarod champion; a visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center; a tram ride to the top of Mt. Alyeska.) Altogether, this would have been an excellent cruise rating were it not for the maintenance issues we observed on the Sun, and they did not markedly detract from our enjoyment of "cruising like a Norwegian." Of two cruise lines with which we're familiar (Princess and NCL), we will choose NCL again without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at ... Read More
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at both the McKinley Village Lodge and The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. I went straight to the front desk at McKinley, and nicely asked if there were any river front rooms available. Dear Ricky immediately obliged me and moved my bags. I spent the rest of the day in heaven, right in front of the river, loving that view! Thanks Ricky! At the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, after seeing the parking lot room, I went to the front desk and asked about a Denali range view, such as my fellow travelers were given, only to be told there were rooms available, and I could have one for $100 upcharge. Rather insulting, since I was being charged same as a couple on this trip. Eventually, it was worked out, and the $100 upcharge was waived. So, then, I was able to love the view of the entire Denali range, clear as a bell, incredible!!! Otherwise, the land tour was really great, my favorite part of the trip, really. On the ship... This was the second cruise of the season for Radiance. Many of the employees didn't really know what they were talking about. First night we ate at Park Cafe, as we were told Cascades was closed. Incorrect information. Breakfasts in dining room, just ok, rancid bacon one day, food never actually hot, service indifferent. Dinners were very good, and we ate in Cascades, main dining room, every night after the first mis-direction. Really enjoyed our evening waiters, Norberto and Ariel. Really worked hard for us, great magic tricks, Norberto! My cabin was 9074. Very nice with a fantastic view of the most beautiful scenery! I would have that cabin again, if I were ever to go on Royal Caribbean again, which I won't. I would get my coffee room service every morning, WONDERFUL!!! I would sit out on my balcony bundled in jacket and socks over jammies and watch the beautiful world go by!Room service for coffee was wonderful! The only really royal feeling I got! I had a good room attendant, Rosli, who kept my room neat, so did I, and made several different towel animals, which I liked very much. The bathroom was tiny, tiny! size of a small rv head, really, and smelled like any little boat head. Having owned several sail boats, it reminded me of old times. HINT, get some lysol before you board, and keep it in the head, this helps a little. Now, here is where I notice all the little corners being cut by RC. The only toiletry in the whole cabin was made in China bar soap in the head. What is Royal about that! Glad I had already read this, and brought my own. Also, in the buffet, cheap, tasteless, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! Try something else. Once the norovirus hit, everything changed on the ship. To use the buffet, all employees were there to serve you from plastic gloved hands, many of these employees had never served before, it was an all-call to action! I have been taking probiotics for a couple of years, now, and suggest it for anyone thinking of cruising. Although I got it, I only had mild symptoms for a day. I will always believe it was food poisoning from the rancid bacon. Everyone who reported their case were isolated for a day. I've read that it takes longer than that to become free from being contagious. Most of us didn't report, and just dealt with it. We were told constantly to wash our hands (with the cheap chinese bar soap?) Which was a good reminder for some, I guess. Mine became raw from all the washing, but was more than happy to comply! Went to several shows, the Motown show was really very good, the Showman piano player was also very good. The other one a review medley sort of thing was lousy. Enjoyed listening to Rosario strings very much. They are two fellows, one on acoustic guitar, the other a violin. They play some classical and some music from musicals you may have seen. In the Schooner lounge, in the evenings. Nice. I felt very, very lucky not to have smokers near me, as RC allows smoking on balconies. That was very worrisome for me, and was a great relief to have nice, fresh air! Oh, my tracfone worked clearly all over Alaska, at every hotel on land, in all the ports, and on the ship at port, just not out to sea. All the hotels had wifi, and it was usually free, if not in all rooms, in all lobbies. It was easy to stay in contact with my elderly parents, until Canada. My phone no longer worked in Canada, and had to rely on e-mail. I just loved Alaska, and will probably go back, but will try a different cruise line, for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We picked up the Statendam in Seward after a week in the interior (independent travel). Our B&B host (Walk About) dropped us at the rail station early in the morning. As we were standing in line to check-in, HAL people walked up and ... Read More
We picked up the Statendam in Seward after a week in the interior (independent travel). Our B&B host (Walk About) dropped us at the rail station early in the morning. As we were standing in line to check-in, HAL people walked up and asked us if we were on the Statendam. When we answered "yes" they took our bags to a separate area and told us we would see our bags in our room. We didn't expect this since we were not on a cruise-tour with HAL. What a pleasant surprise, we just went in doors and got our tickets. The train ride to Seward was very pleasant. The guide pointed out animals and points of interest along the way. We even saw some Beluga whales in Turn Again Arm - a first for us. When we got off the train, we found Major Marine for their tour. By this time it was starting to get drippy but we took off anyway. The gray clouds were very low so although we saw anything in the water (sea otters, humpback) or immediately on the shore (seals, eagle) we didn't get to see the mountains. By the time we got to the glacier, the weather was getting pretty bad (rain, wind, cold), so most people didn't go out of the main cabin. Going back was very rough (they wouldn't have sailed if it had been this way earlier). Several people were getting seasick which kept the staff busy. They did a great job cleaning up after those who got sick. When we got back, a bus took us to the Statendam. We had to make a pit stop but a bus was still there for transport. Boarding for the Statendam was OK. On previous cruises we've boarded from major cities, not a small town. I guess they were as well organized as possible since most everyone got to Seward by bus or train, arriving about the same time. Our stateroom was ready when we got on so we settled in after living out of a suitcase for over a week. It's nice that we don't need to take our life vests to muster before we sailed. Our first day was a bit rough, but we were going through the Gulf of Alaska with unprotected waters. It was quite chilly, gray with rain at times. Good day to explore the ship. Weather improved for the rest of the trip allowing us to see Glacier Bay. Didn't see many animals but heard others say they saw whale, bear and seal. While parked in front of Marjorie Glacier got great pictures of ice calving. In Haines we went on the ship's excursion Alaskan Wildlife Tour. Steve is amazing with the animals. We had seen him on TV before so were anxious to see Banff and/or Jasper, the wolverines. Steve was able to hug and kiss these normally vicious animals. I got to feed a banana to a moose and willow to reindeer. After that tour we took a bear watch (privately booked, just 2 of us). We did see a brown bear near the river as well as salmon swimming upstream. Later our guide took us to see a bald eagle's nest (with all 3 in the nest). In Juneau our private tour never showed (Corey Mann/Stories & Legends). So we asked one of the vendors at the end of the pier if there was something we could do and still be back in time for our scheduled salmon bake. We ended up on Last Chance Tours for a city and Mendenhall Glacier tour. The glacier has really retreated since I had been in Juneau 28 years ago. The Gold Creek Salmon Bake was just as good as I remembered. If you don't like a sweet sauce for your salmon, you might want to try a different on. On our last port call, we were supposed to take the Adventure Kart trip (privately booked with 2-4-1 coupon). This was the same tour that HAL had listed as one of their tours. I guess everyone on the ship decided it was too pricey because we were the only two to book it. Too bad they didn't let us know until we got to the pier and asked around for it that they canceled it. We had an afternoon tour booked and most of the other tours had departed so we asked one of the vendors (Jimmy) if he had anything that would get us back in time for our 2nd tour. He made a phone call to Ketchikan Site Seeing. Amber & Vicky picked us up for a two hour sea cycle tour. These are two women just starting up to do tours and were willing to do very last minute tour for just us. It is like sea kayaking only you don't sit with your legs straight out. You pedal like a paddle boat. We saw eagles, a black bear and seals. It was a beautiful day - sunny and about 62. Think I even got some sun on my face. Our afternoon tour (booked privately) was a nature/city tour. This also turned out to be just the guide/owner (Rita) and the two of us. The rest of the trip to Vancouver had clear skies and calm seas. Very nice. Entertainment on board: we missed the first night. First comedian was quite good (impressions). We enjoyed the Broadway night with the regular dancers and singers (and special male singer). The second comedian (ventriloquist) was also entertaining. We also showed up the last night when everyone performed. Food: We had sailed HAL previously but it had been a couple of years. In between we did Princess and Oceania, so my memory is a bit rusty. But I think HAL has dropped just a notch. Their cold soups are still great, but some of the meals seemed salty to me. This is not to say the food wasn't good, just not as good as I remembered it. It would not be a reason to sail or not sail on HAL in the future. The staff was good although we didn't require extra attention except to bring us two wine glasses. We soon learned to hide them after use because they didn't replace them, they just took them. Beds are still good. Yes, we will most likely sail HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
The 4 of us, 2 adults (early forties) and two girls (ages 7 and 10) boarded the Statendam in Seward for a 7 night Alaskan cruise to Vancouver. This was our first cruise but will certainly not be our last, Our first 2 nights were ... Read More
The 4 of us, 2 adults (early forties) and two girls (ages 7 and 10) boarded the Statendam in Seward for a 7 night Alaskan cruise to Vancouver. This was our first cruise but will certainly not be our last, Our first 2 nights were spent in hurricane force winds and 50 foot seas. This was a frightening introduction for us to cruising but the Captain was wonderful in terms of keeping us informed as to what was happening. We found the centre of the ship the best place to be and were glad to have one of the lower cabins. After this ordeal the cruise was magical. I found the Statendam to be in excellent condition and well appointed. The food was fantastic in all restaurants. The quality was very high. The staff were predominantly of Indonesian and Filipino descent. HAL did not apologise for this but rather celebrated it. We found everyone to be incredibly friendly and helpful. It is worth remembering that these people are away from their families for almost a year at a time. Even with this in mind and having to clean up the ship after a hurricane, they were still smiling and cheerful. We boarded in Seward - beautiful. First port was Haines. We did the wildlife park which was fantastic and a great chance to see some of the animal we hadn't seen yet. Next was Juneau. We took a helicopter onto a glacier and were so glad we did. Ketchikan - The weather Gods were now smiling on us and it was a warm and sunny day. We did a self-guided hike which we loved. There weren't many kids on the boat but that just meant that ours were treated like royalty. They loved the 2 girls in Club HAL and all the activities that were organised for them. All of us had a great time and I now scratch my head when I read some negative reviews of this same vessel. I would go again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Arrived at Seward for "priority " boarding ,travelled 16 hours: After 20 minutes were told room had been given to someone else: Eventually we were whisked on board after an hour and told to go to front office; Without telling ... Read More
Arrived at Seward for "priority " boarding ,travelled 16 hours: After 20 minutes were told room had been given to someone else: Eventually we were whisked on board after an hour and told to go to front office; Without telling us, our onboard cards were switched from designated dining room seating to scramble for all. i asked 3 timess to speak to a manager, no one came to discuss with us. 3 days later we had opportunity to be greeted by the captain who shrugged us off in his broken English, but someone was dispatched to see us several hours later. Our dining experiences as a whole were poor, food re heated, cold meals, wrong meals, dirty table cloths, food encrusted dirty fork at the italian restaurant. we were not the only ones who experienced the bad food service, one lunch time the entire table returned there meal, which was burgers served as hard as hockey pucks The Captain was rude and uncaring to not only ourselves, but others who were not travelling with us. Obviously there is a common denominator: Zaandam and Holland America My advise is give another cruise line your money Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Airport arrangements, hotel transfers, baggage handling- all with precision. Embarkation took at most 30 minutes shuttle to on board. Land touring a week before cruise included Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage.Wildlife trip to Denali ... Read More
Airport arrangements, hotel transfers, baggage handling- all with precision. Embarkation took at most 30 minutes shuttle to on board. Land touring a week before cruise included Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage.Wildlife trip to Denali magnificent, breathtaking view of mountain that day. Land tour director was a pro, even assisted in crisis when wife packed ALL my clothes and sent ahead to the ship. Our group of 40 were all punctual cooperative and affable. One day flight to Anaktuvak Pass village was worh note. The flight up and visit into tundra very good. The village itself was difficult. The locals 'subsistence traditional life' is now all western supported, by importing everything-EVERYTHING- by air. Educate yourself before deciding to spend a large amount of money and full day. This was our 2nd HAL trip. Layout identical to previous Noordam. Odd to round a corner of a new place and know where you were and what you would see next. This means no adventure in exploring a new vessel. I am a physician, and visit to Med Facility and listening to shop talk stories from ship's Doc an extra treat. (unlike Cunard). Staff very attentive, but HAL needs to assist them with English skills-room service, bar. Table waiters and wine steward were absolutely top notch, no issues there. Dining room staff made us feel special. Pinnacle Grill evening another home run. Our Noordam had been just ok. Food varied and good. Portions smallish- but waiters would suggest double portions when needed, and brought extra 'tasting' dishes out. The liberal policy of allowing passengers to bring wine on board made our trip more fun and saved us money. Between us we had Cunard, Norwegian, Princess as well as HAL previous experiences and we agreed this was best to date. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our 4th Regent cruise and it was as we expected. The food choices were excellent and the food quite good although we detected a slight reduction in the availability of higher price food items; no doubt a result of higher food ... Read More
This was our 4th Regent cruise and it was as we expected. The food choices were excellent and the food quite good although we detected a slight reduction in the availability of higher price food items; no doubt a result of higher food costs, generally. The liquor selections are top shelf and the house wines were very well selected. The wine stewards could be a bit on the snotty side, however. Staff is friendly and most are more than capable with a few clearly in the "training" stage. Our housekeeper, Janice, was a delight and remembered out names every time we saw her. The rooms are always spacious; yes, there were some creaks but the interiors are mostly wood and the creaks were certainly not constant, nor annoying. (We creak, too!) Our cruise had a good mix from multi-generational families with children to young couples to middle-aged to older folks. The library is well-stocked and the casino is active (when open). Regent offers a very broad range of tours, most of them free. We especially recommend the White Pass railroad tour and any tour to view the wildlife. We will continue to use Regent whenever we cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We started our land part in Fairbanks on June 6th. We had a great time wandering around the waterfront in Fairbanks. We had our first adventure with a real musher. Great conversation with her. The Gold Dredge Mine was ok. Panning for ... Read More
We started our land part in Fairbanks on June 6th. We had a great time wandering around the waterfront in Fairbanks. We had our first adventure with a real musher. Great conversation with her. The Gold Dredge Mine was ok. Panning for gold was hard work. We make about $45 between the two of us. The stern wheeler trip was great. We enjoyed it much more than the panning for gold. Beautiful scenery and great narration. Saw cute puppies from Susan Butcher's kennel. We had booked the Alaskan Salmon Bake and were very disappointed. We didn't realize it was outside. Lots of flies and mosquitoes. The Palace Theater was funny and entertaining.June 8th Trip on the train to Denali was relaxing and good. Food on the train was very good. Accommodations in Denali were ok. Again mosquitoes were plentiful. Did the glacier landing by float plane. The greatest experience we have ever had. Our flight was the first one up for the day after several were cancelled. We got extra time on the glacier and superb views of Mt. McKinley. Everyone needs to do this. Cabin Nite was good. More singing and dancing than the Palace Theater. June 9th and Tundra Wilderness Tour was good. Long ride on the bus, but lots of great scenery and narration. Guide was very knowledgeable. We could have done with it being a couple of hours less time. Pretty much everyone fell asleep on the ride back. We had purchased a box lunch based on reviews we read, but didn't eat them. The "snack" pack was more than enough for us. That night we did the Stampede Trail. DH loved it; I hated it. It was cold, rainy, muddy and way too far out in the wilderness for my tastes. Hot dogs and hamburgers thrown on an open fire and burned were not my thing. There were no facilities except the woods. I couldn't wait to get back to the lodge.June 10th started with the Husky Homestead Tour. What a great tour. We got handed a puppy as soon as we got off the bus. Great information by the daughter of Jeff King. We learned so much. Beautiful place. Got on the train again and headed to Anchorage. Had a great dinner that night at Orso restaurant across from the Westmark.June 11th had us on a bus to head for Seward. Bus ride seemed long, but maybe we were tired. Too short a stop at a very small place that was packed with other cruisers. Restroom lines were very long and there was no way to get any lunch. Discovered drinks, cookies, chips were available in the gift shop. Pulled into the Windsong Lodge early evening. The lodge was great. We had the best meal at the Resurrection Roadhouse. Beautiful views, friendly people, incredible food. We would have liked time to go into downtown Seward, but found that others that went were disappointed with their meals.June 12th had us off to catch the ship. The Exit Glacier Tour was interesting and entertaining. We figured the different tours were staggered to allow everyone different times to get to the ship. The check in at the cruise terminal was longer than we thought. It didn't seem to be very efficient. Finally got on board and couldn't believe our suite. It was way larger and spacious than we thought. We couldn't even begin to fill the closets and drawers and we thought we had over packed. We were still having difficulties with the lack of dark nights and were wiped out from a too packed week on land. Had a nice dinner and off to bed shortly after we sailed. Checked out the Neptune Lounge and met lots of fellow passengers.June 13th: Great cruising through College Fjord. The ship rotated several times to let everyone see everything. Had our first dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. It was excellent. June 14th: Glacier Bay was wonderful. The park ranger that came on board was very knowledgeable. We opted to stay on our balcony and had the best views of calving ice. Sea gulls landed on our railing and entertained us. Ship rotated around several times so everyone could get great views. Had dinner in the Rotterdam. Impressed with variety of menu selections, wine selections and quality. Service everywhere was efficient and friendly. We felt totally pampered throughout our time on the ship.Will save rest of comments for each port. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We booked a Celebrity 7-night cruise for Alaska after enjoying our Mediterranean experience on Celebrity's Solstice. We purchased a package that also included a 5-night land tour, beginning in Anchorage and ending in Seward, where we ... Read More
We booked a Celebrity 7-night cruise for Alaska after enjoying our Mediterranean experience on Celebrity's Solstice. We purchased a package that also included a 5-night land tour, beginning in Anchorage and ending in Seward, where we embarked for the southbound leg of the ship's Inside Passage loop. My husband and I are in our early 60s and this may be our only visit to Alaska, as there are just so many places to go. If you've read a lot of these reviews, as I have, you appreciate that they are very subjective. I offer the following observations for what help they afford to fellow travelers. Visiting Alaska is, in several ways, a lot like visiting China. There is a a tourist route. If one hundred tourists spend a week each in New York City they'll likely have 100 diverse experiences. If 100 tourists go to China for a week, they'll all see the Wall and the Forbidden City. And if you go to Alaska with a tour you'll see a somewhat predictable pattern of glaciers, mountains and fabulous sea and land animals. Moreover, you'll have your adventure within a 4-month timeframe - tourist season runs mid-May to mid-September. Many of the folks with whom you interact may not even be Alaskans - young people come from the world over to staff the tourist venues, restaurants and hotels. So, do some research before you book. What do you really want to see and do in Alaska? If what's covered in the tour route (sea and/or land) is sufficient, great. If not, you'll want to pay a little more to 'get out there'. Our Millennium 7-night Southbound tour from Seward to Vancouver took us to within 2 miles of the Hubbard Glacier and to 4 Alaskan ports - Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, & Ketchekan. I'll review the ports separately elsewhere in Cruise Critic, suffice it to say that they are all 'staged' ports, colorful little tourist sections of town lined with shops and more shops. If shops aren't your thing, well, again, do your research. Each port offers a hundred opportunities to really see Alaska. Celebrity offers some great excursions and there are many private companies with competent, trustworthy staff to help you plan your adventures. Aside from the ports what is really nice about cruising Alaska is the opportunity to see whales - several kinds of whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, --- and maybe walk out on your veranda, as we did one morning, just in time to watch a bald eagle fly overhead. Wow! Cruising the Inside Passage, mountain ranges on both sides of you, is just awesome and using your 'floating boat' to explore different areas and do different things is what makes the Alaskan cruise a good choice. What did we think of Millennium? Frankly, we found it a bit small and tired-looking, after cruising on Celebrity's Solstice 2 years ago. Millennium's crew, however, are first rate. You'll see them everywhere on board, they'll remember your name and they'll be every bit as geeked as you are when you see that baby whale. All the services and amenities are just fine and Celebrity's website does a great job of giving you all of the details. (well - except for it's shore excursion section, which is about the worst online 'tool' you'll ever encounter.) If you want to pay, I recommend the seating option that allows you to walk into the dining room any time you please (between 6:30-9:30). It was wonderful not having to watch a clock for dinner seating and we never waited even 5 minutes for a table. By all means spend one night at the Olympic Restaurant. It is an absolute bargain -- food and service are delightful. What one thing would I change on Millennium? Same thing I would change on Solstice -- rethink the Ocean Cafe -- the buffet section of the ship. On Celebrity this place is always crowded, always chaotic. No one helps with seating, folks often walk endlessly just looking for a table to share. Beverage lines are long and no one comes by with refills - even of water or coffee, yet there are plenty of staff selling cocktails. I never, ever enjoyed eating there -- in fact I ate a lot of pizza just to avoid Cafe food lines.Final observation. If you want a richer Alaskan experience, couple your cruise with a land excursion. In fact, I recommend booking a Celebrity cruise just so that you can book the Celebrity Land Excursion. We did the 5-day excursion beginning in Anchorage. Our tour director (Leah) was terrific -knowledgeable and energetic. She was with us every leg of the trip and this trip had a lot of legs --- Wilderness Train from Anchorage to Talkeetna (the Royal Celebrity train cars are fantastic and we saw our first brown bears and bald eagles while sitting in the dining car), --- overnight at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (perfect), ---train again to Denali for 2 nights that included an 8 hour tour of Denali and our siting of grizzlies) --- bus ride (Royal Celebrity buses are beautiful) to Fairbanks, --- overnight and flight back to Anchorage and down to port Seward by bus to board our ship. Everything well organized, well executed every step of the way. Just wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
After much research, and the advice of a trusted friend and travel agent, we decided to go on the Millenium. My wife had been on two previous cruises; one to the Caribbean with RC, and last year in the Med with Regency for two weeks with ... Read More
After much research, and the advice of a trusted friend and travel agent, we decided to go on the Millenium. My wife had been on two previous cruises; one to the Caribbean with RC, and last year in the Med with Regency for two weeks with her mom. I had no interest in either locations; being from Hawaii I like going places on vacation that are different, and enjoy fall colors in particular. So we decided Alaska was the ticket, and Celebrity would provide the quality that we are used to. I should add that we own a 5 star timeshare that has gotten us used to top flight accommodations, i.e. Hyatt, Marriot, Hilton Grand Vacations in locations like Incline Tahoe, Park City, Whistler, etc. So it was with some excitement that we booked a suite, figuring that we would want the extra space and the promised level of extra service that the Celebrity website bragged about. So we arrived in Seward and got on board; that part was easy, we had beat the rush that was soon to come. We went to our cabin, and it looked quite nice, and then left to explore Seward, which is a fascinating town, and did not seem to have the endless jewelry stores that we would encounter in the next ports, which is another story. The aquarium was interesting and recommended. At any rate we returned to our cabin to bathe and get ready for our first night on board. The first bad sign were the pubic hairs in the tub; then my wife took a hand towel and wet it down, muttering that the floor was filthy. I didn't believe her until she got off her hands and knees and showed me the once clean towel covered with dirt and grime on the bathroom floor. Not the sort of dirt from one or two missed cleanings; caked on dirt. Not an impressive start. We had been invited to the Olympic the first night, their special dining room, and that was indeed a highlight. In fact, although it's an additional $30 pp in retrospect we should have eaten there every night. Exceptional service and food. The next night we ate in the main dining room, and the food was good, but the service was not, and the crowds were noisy. Afterwards we walked around the ship and discovered an undocumented feature, the Water's Edge dining room, apparently an experiment on the 10th deck port side. This was where we ate the next two nights, and found it to be much more relaxing than the main dining room. I'm not sure if they will continue it, but it was a much better option than the main dining room. My wife did say the food was much better than the other cruises that she had been on, and I will say the breakfast buffets were quite good, and many people were at the buffets at all hours. Back to the cabin; on our third morning I went to the bathroom and was overwhelmed with a strong stench of urine. Could I have been sleepwalking and missed the toilet? Nope, a towel washing the floor didn't help. Told our steward about it and went ashore. Came back on board in the afternoon and found two maintenance guys outside the cabin replacing some part of plumbing. Great, I thought, I wasn't hallucinating. Unfortunately, this didn't fix the problem, and the bathroom was still filled with a disgusting stench. Called the steward, he said maintenance would come back. Two hours later, called the concierge and complained. An hour later a maintenance fellow tapped on the door and said they'd fixed it, a pipe was unsealed. The smell persisted, and I called to complain again. By this time I was more than frustrated. Their solution was to have housekeeping bring a bunch of cleaners into the bathroom and flush and overwhelm the smell. I should point out that at no time did a manager get involved, nor was there a followup inquiry. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations in service on a cruise ship versus a hotel. Celebrity certainly was clueless, and I was definitely dismayed by this experience. At the least there should have been a visit from a manager, along with a bottle of champagne and an apology for the inconvenience. However, with the exception of the Olympic room, this ship seemed to be focused on one thing; getting as much money as possible from passengers from selling shore excursions, jewelry, and gambling, as well as alcohol. Our suite was on the sixth deck, directly above the lifeboats. We like to rest on our vacations, which typically are in a Hyatt or Marriot or Hilton timeshare with fireplace and Jacuzzi tub, etc. This includes catching up on sleep, so imagine our dismay when in our second port they had a lifeboat drill for the crew beginning at 10 am. So much for relaxing in the room, the noise was enough to drive us out of our cabin. And there was a halogen lamp between the lifeboats pointed directly at our cabin so you couldn't see a thing at night, and had to close the curtains carefully to get a dark room. The fact is they don't want you spending time in your cabin at all; most of the television was devoted to shore excursions and the sale of jewelry and spa experiences. A clue to this was the vcr player under the tv. So much for playing a dvd for a romantic evening in bed; in fact they've set up the tv's so you can't hook up an external device, and I don't know what the heck the purpose of having a vcr in the room is, unless it is to hearken to a distant past before cell phones and the Internet. Ah yes, the nostalgia of the golden age of VCR's, courtesy of Celebrity. We kept the tv on the chart showing our location, and did a lot of reading. Oh, and speaking of the Internet, I was told there was wireless in the room, and bought the $99 package for it on the first day. This was another falsehood; there were wireless hot spots, as well as a room with pc's in it running internet explorer 6, which most people stopped using four years ago for security reasons; heaven only knows how many people on that cruise used those pc's and now their email and other passwords are probably being spread across eastern Europe right now, and if they were foolish enough to put credit card info into one those pc's the smart thing to do would be to close that card immediately before getting charged for a few flat screen tv's lol..... at any rate I'd take my notebook to the 5th deck, and use the exceptionally slow internet there. As I'm a puter geek I checked network speeds, and they were slower than a 14k dialup. My blackberry worked on most of the cruise, and I should have just used it and left the notebook in it's case. The highlight of our shore visits was Skagway. As the onboard naturalist, who was a hoot and quite informative put it, the ports have "metastasized" into jewelry malls. Store after store after store selling jewelry. I took a picture of a row of them in Skagway with hawkers standing in front of each one trying to get passengers to come inside; this was far worse than the timeshare booths that used to wreck Hawaii until laws were put into place to control them. I really feel sorry for the residents of Alaska who have to be dismayed at what has happened to their ports, and I am surprised they have not had the desire to control these aggressive salespeople. It was with some relief that we went on the Skagway White Pass rail trip; a highlight of the trip, and highly recommended. Celebrity has done their own private stop, as I am told is something they do in the Caribbean..... at Icy Strait which was a nice stop. Of course on the ship they did not mention the extensive hiking opportunities, as they were too busy pushing the zip line excursion. Once ashore we found that there were some excellent hikes, but by that time we had no time for it, as we had not planned on it based on the lack of information about them. The Celebrity profit machine was razor sharp in their focus, and self guided tours were anathema to them. So we went to the Olympic again, had another marvelous and memorable dinner, and the Waters Edge as well. That and the railway and a truly awesome viewing of Hubbard glacier on a day that the captain said was the clearest of the season were the three best things of the cruise. We were quite lucky weatherwise, and enjoyed the Alaskan vistas, but could have done that on a ferry for part of an Alaskan vacation. I did get great pictures and as a photographer was quite pleased with that. Disembarkation in Vancouver can only be described as complete chaos. First we're told to go one place, then another, and the hordes trying to escape were pushing and shoving; my wife said it was quite unlike her other cruises, and I certainly hope so. Once we got off the ship and to Canadian customs, things improved markedly. We walked across the street to our suite on the gold floor at the Fairmont and thanked heaven that we were off the Millenium. In summary, I was unimpressed with the ship and crew, excepting the Olympic. They seemed short handed in housekeeping, and had obvious quality control problems that senior management didn't care about. At the resort I work at we have mystery shoppers quarterly, judging all aspects of the resort, and bonuses for staff are on a quarterly basis are based on a variety of scores from the shoppers and comments from our guests, many of whom return year after year. I'd say the hotel side of the ship should be sacked, at least on the housekeeping side; random checks by competent managers of rooms would have disclosed problems that should be fixed. But I suppose on a ship it's harder to get good help that sticks around. I had to laugh at their attempts to get people to buy future cruises at a discount. Still, the ship gets good reviews in the 3 books I purchased prior to deciding on her, so perhaps the fact that it was their last Alaskan cruise of the season prior to heading south and the crew was burned out may have been a factor. This is not an acceptable excuse. My wife, by the way, is delighted that I have now experienced a cruise, and won't be asking to go on another. Give me a relaxing two weeks with a five star resort and a staff that is properly trained and I'll be quite satisfied, and will never suggest a cruise again. She can't wait to go back to the Fairmont Pacific Rim, where they understand what quality hospitality is all about. Oh well, live and learn. What might have been a great experience for someone a couple of years ago when they reviewed it certainly was not for us. However, things change; think about a restaurant that you used to love, and then went downhill. Unfortunately, this was not a restaurant, and we were on board for a week. At least the weather was good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Day 1: Arrived in Fairbanks. Celebrity representatives met us in the baggage claim area of the airport. Transferred to Sophie Station Hotel via Motorcoach. Greeted by Tour Director Jennifer for a brief overview of land tour and when to ... Read More
Day 1: Arrived in Fairbanks. Celebrity representatives met us in the baggage claim area of the airport. Transferred to Sophie Station Hotel via Motorcoach. Greeted by Tour Director Jennifer for a brief overview of land tour and when to meet the next morning. Very well organized. Tiring day from air travel and 4 hours time difference. Day 2: Fairbanks. Breakfast buffet on our own at Zack's in Sophie Station Hotel. I would not recommend this buffet as it's very expensive at $13.95 and not worth it. If you arrive in time, you could walk to Fred Meyer store on Day 1 and get something to eat for breakfast. Met at 7:45am to board bus. Met our driver Ewing. Stopped by Alaska Pipeline en route to El Dorado Gold Mine. The Gold Mine tour was about 3 hours. This is a working mine. We learned about Alaska's Gold Rush history and saw a gold panning demo. We panned for gold which was fun. I found $10 worth of gold flecks. We stopped for lunch on our own in downtown Fairbanks. Jennifer made several recommendations. We ate at the Cafe Promenade. Had time to walk to the Visitors Center. After about 1.5 hours in downtown Fairbanks, we set out for the Riverboat Discovery tour. This was an excellent 3 hour tour aboard a sternwheeler riverboat. We saw a bush plane taking off, saw kennels of Iditarod winner, learned about the ancient Athabascan Indian culture. Got off riverboat for a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village. Got back on riverboat for return trip. Returned to Sophie Station Hotel. Dinner on our own. We walked to Bruster's Pub which was very good. Day 3: Fairbanks/Denali Departed at 7:40am for the Wilderness Express, luxury domed railcar. Traveled to Denali. Fantastic breakfast onboard the train. Arrived in Denali National Park about 12:00. Explored Visitor Center. Had about an hour before boarding bus on the Tundra Wilderness Tour. This is about an 8 hour trip but it's well worth it. We were fortunate to be in the 30% that actually see Mt. McKinley. We saw lots of wildlife including moose, Dall sheep, a grizzy with 2 cubs, and golden eagle. They serve a snack box that included canned chicken salad with crackers, cookie, roll, carrots and water. It was actually pretty tasty. Stayed overnight at the Grande Denali Lodge. A previous reviewer called this place a dump but I do not agree. Perhaps they have renovated since his trip in Aug. 2009. The lobby was very nice and the restaurant very good. Day 4: Denali/Talkeetna Check out time was 10:00. We departed lodge for the Wilderness Express at 11:30AM. There was time to go to Denali Village or take an optional land excursion but it was so windy that we opted to stay at the lodge. Today we had a great lunch on the train during our 4 hour trip to Talkeetna. We arrived in Talkeetna and had the rest of the day on our own. Stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge which was beautiful with a cozy lobby with large stone fireplace. If it had been clear, we may have been able to see Mt. McKinley from the hotel deck. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy. Jennifer recommended Twisted Creek for dinner but it was packed so we went to the Roadhouse. It was good too. I had quiche and the guys had pasties (like a pot pie). The lodge provides shuttle service to town. Day 5: Talkeetna/Anchorage Check out time was 11:00 so we had the morning free for excursions. We walked on the trail behind the lodge. Apparently we came very close to a moose as others from our group saw us from the lobby. We did not see the moose but just the droppings! We also took a River Float Tour down the Talkeetna River. Had time afterwards to get a famous cinnamon roll at the Roadhouse. It was HUGE and sinfully delicious! At 12:00, we departed for Anchorage on the motorcoach. We made a stop at a small general store for ice cream. We arrived in Anchorage about 3:00 for a couple of hours of shopping/leisure time in downtown Anchorage. We checked in the Downtown Anchorage Marriott, a very nice hotel. Dinner on our own at Glacier Brewhouse which was within walking distance. Had King Salmon which was outstanding! Day 6: Anchorage/Alyeska Had breakfast at Snow City Cafe per Jennifer's recommendation. Very Good! Departed Marriot around 10:00 for the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here we learned about Alaska's first people and the many native cultures. We were there about 2 hours which was sufficient time for me but some would like to have had more time there. It depends on what your interests are. You cannot see all of the presentations, films, dance performances, storytelling and tour the museum in 2 hours. This was also our lunch stop but we skipped lunch as we had a good breakfast. At 12:30 we departed for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where we saw some grizzly bears, moose, caribou, musk ox, porcupine, eagle and great horned owl up close. These animals cannot survive in the wild due to injuries or some other reason. We were there about an hour. We arrived at The Hotel Alyeska about 3:15. This was definitely the best place we stayed....a 4 Star Resort. We took the shuttle to Girdwood where we ate dinner at the Double Musky. This was another excellent suggestion by Jennifer. Day 7: Alyeska/Seward Check out was at 10:00 but we did not leave for Seward until 2:00. We enjoyed the Alyeska Tram Ride where we soared 2300 feet above the valley. The views were breathtaking. Afterwards, we walked about 2 miles round trip on the Winners Creek Trail behind the resort. This is a rainforest with beautiful trees and waterfalls. Said goodbye to our Tour Director Jennifer. Ewing drove us to the pier in Seward. This took about 3 hours. We had our first view of the Millennium. We were off the bus and through security and on the ship in less than 30 minutes! Celebrity did a GREAT JOB! This was our first cruise. The food on the ship was not as outstanding as we had hoped. People always talk about the great food on cruises. It was good but certainly not lke a 4 or 5 star restaurant. Also, they had a Dessert Extravaganza one night but this, for us, was a disaster. The cruise director said to be sure to bring your camera. It was total chaos. Very dark, noisy and crowded in the Cosmos Lounge. This was one BIG PARTY geared more toward a younger crowd in my opinion. We could hardly walk through there. We stayed about 5 minutes and left. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Food: The buffet generally was quite good. One night, prime rib was served and it surpassed any that I've had in recent years -- not to be missed! Salad offerings were always wonderful. Main dishes were sometimes so-so. Breakfast ... Read More
Food: The buffet generally was quite good. One night, prime rib was served and it surpassed any that I've had in recent years -- not to be missed! Salad offerings were always wonderful. Main dishes were sometimes so-so. Breakfast buffets have to work at being bad so, of course, we always enjoyed breakfast -- many choices. My husband ate smoked salmon every morning and loved it. Desserts were over the top and they always had great ice cream. We ate in the dining room for lunch one day and thought it horrible -- never went back. But, we met some good friends there at a group table and enjoyed their company for days afterward. We also tried the Italian restaurant and found the dishes highly salted -- never went back. We never tried the Pinnacle Restaurant that charged an extra fee. We found it troublesome that formal nights provided some higher quality food where formal attire was required. We did not take formal wear with us. Activities: We played Bingo, got into a slot machine tournament, and attended shows. The game Bingo is always fun and had very good winnings but the Cruise Director really got on our nerves. Slot machine tournament and gambling is enjoyable before the smokers take over. The shows and musicians were unbelievable -- wonderful music and technically skilled stage productions. A classical quartet from Australia kept us well entertained in the late evening. We encountered other musicians around the boat on occasion who were also quite good. Many spa options are available though they are particularly spendy. They were 20% cheaper at port but still expensive. They sell them as though they expect to solidly book throughout the cruise -- but, when I had to cancel a massage because I became ill with a cold, they immediately asked if I wanted to re-book. Other amenities: We were not provided with a promised discount booklet to use on board. Our cruise was booked through Alaska Airlines. Holland America refused to honor the agreement. Strange in this day and age, I'd say. Shore excursions: The stops along the Inside Passage are just wonderful but tours booked through the cruise can run 30% more than booking at a Visitor Center on site. We chose to use the City Bus where we could access places to see. We found that it doesn't hurt to wheel and deal a little at the various kiosks, though, if you choose a tour. Walking around the towns is fun. Doing a little research in advance will save you and get you to the local interests. It's always fun to shop in these coastal towns but try to buy local if you can. If you get to Skagway, you may be filling corporate pockets -- that's not a reason to miss Skagway, however! Other: Generally, we enjoyed the cruise but found the amenities were not always on track. The only thing that was consistent was the entertainment -- absolutely wonderful! We overheard many complaints about the ship (bathrooms, heat, services, etc) but shared great conversations with people who had nothing bad to say at all. We had a particular aversion to the Cruise Director but found many of the staff interesting and enjoyable. By the way, most of the staff are not American so communication can be challenging. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010

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