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25 Alaska Spa Cruise Reviews

Just returned from a 12 day Alaska cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. Having taken over 15 cruises. This one ranks as one of our best. It was also our first Alaskan cruise. The Century was an old but elegant ship and she did show signs ... Read More
Just returned from a 12 day Alaska cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. Having taken over 15 cruises. This one ranks as one of our best. It was also our first Alaskan cruise. The Century was an old but elegant ship and she did show signs of her age, but it reminded us of ships from our earlier cruises. our stateroom was really nice and spacious (Cabin 1069) compared to the newer ships and our veranda was larger than some staterooms we had on other ships. The overall service was excellent, Our stateroom attendant was outstanding as well as the wait staff in the Grand Dining Room. Murano's, the only specialty restaurant on board was exceptional and one of our favorites. We were sad to hear that this ship has been sold and this was its last Alaska voyage. It was not all bed and roses though. The check-in at the Pier in San Francisco was sheer chaos. We had Priority check-in which was completely disorganized. There were 3 couples in the Priority area and it took almost 45 minutes to check us in. Staff seem unprepared for the multitude of passengers and those in the regular lines seem to be serviced faster than us. When we finally got on board, they did not have a record of our beverage package that we pre-purchased, requiring me to take my documentation to the desk to straighten out. Then our keycards would not work causing another trip back to the desk to have another set made. Once inside though, everything turned about for the best. Met our Stateroom attendant Edy and our Butler, Santorsa. Both were motivated to please us. That night in the Grand Dining Room (we had the late seating), we met our servers Shobith and his assistant Naik. They were also very attentive and friendly. We split our 12 days between the Grand Dining and Maurano's. I can't say enough for the crew aboard the Century. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and made us feel welcome. As previously stated, Shobith and Naik were always waiting when we came in for dinner and on those rare days when we ate lunch in the Dining Room (which was open seating), Shobith would always check on us even though we weren't his table. As for the food in the Grand Dining Room. It was well above average compared to some of the other cruises. I neglected to mention, the theme of this cruise was 'Top Chef' . The menu featured dishes from the latest season of the show. We enjoy wonderful Gazpachos, Frog's Leg, Seasoned Pork and Macaroons' to name just a bit and these were in the Main Dining Room. On to Murano's, the Century's only specialty restaurant. We had a number of meals there including The Wine Dinner, Chef's Table and Champagne Tea. Again, the staff was exceptional and gracious and the food superb. Our chef de cuisines, Marco and Tris as well as, Arif and Anessa Our Wine Steward, took excellent care of us. I could go on for pages about the food. The Goat Cheese Soufflé was one of our favorites, The Pork Belly (an appetizer) was a meal in itself, followed by the Chateau Briand and Lobster. I thoroughly enjoyed the Loin of Venison and the Veal Tenderloin. Desserts were also excellent. The Grand Mainer Soufflé and the Banana Crepes were not to be missed . We couldn't wait most nights to go back to our cabin and see what new towel animal our Cabin Stewart Edy made today. Each day Santosa would leave some delicious treat in our cabin and if we happened to be there he would bring us tea and sandwiches. We also found the ships Officer's to be friendly and approachable as well. Captain George was more visible then any ship's Captain encountered on any vessel. We saw the Food and Beverage Director Koray Savas several times a day. He always stopped to say hello not just to us, but other passengers as well. The only thing we found a bit lackluster was the entertainment. The best of the entertainment was in the main dining room, where Shobith and Niak taught me how to entertain the masses. It was a laugh a minute in trying to move a soda can out of a glass and into a container without touching it. You really had to be there, but I certainly was entertained and most of the guests who were near us also were. For the most part though much of it was geared towards a much older crowd Doug Cameron and Marc Preston, very talented, but not our taste. 'A touch of Broadway' was upbeat and Reva Rice actually sang while Roller Skating on a moving vessel, kudos to her. For a 12 day cruise, we wished for a little more time in each port. It seemed we only spent a few hours in each port. Our favorite highlight was the Helicopter ride up to the Mendenhall Glacier, where we were able to walk along the ice beds. Victoria, BC was beautiful, again not enough time to really enjoy, would have preferred staying there rather than stopping in Astoria, Oregon.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Top 5 BEST things about cruising Alaska on the NCL Pearl: 1. Alaska -- WOW! Amazing views of Glacier Bay, snow-capped mountains, temperate rain forests, and a little bit of tundra along the White Pass railway. Glimpsed a few whales, ... Read More
Top 5 BEST things about cruising Alaska on the NCL Pearl: 1. Alaska -- WOW! Amazing views of Glacier Bay, snow-capped mountains, temperate rain forests, and a little bit of tundra along the White Pass railway. Glimpsed a few whales, porpoises and seals from the ship. Then during port excursions we saw orcas and humpbacks up close, sea lions and dozens of eagles. 2. Bayardo the room steward was awesome! He greeted us by name every day, kept our cabin clean and well stocked, surprised us with a variety of adorable animal towel sculptures, and was consistently the most friendly and polite crew member on board. He truly made us feel special and well taken care of. 3. The thermal suite was our haven 6 out of 7 days. For about the cost of one spa treatment we each purchased a pass for access to hot tubs, steam bath, sauna, and heated tile loungers. No more than 84 passes were sold during the cruise and people came and went so the spa was thankfully never crowded. The views from the spa were incredible, perhaps the best on the ship. No kids allowed. Pure bliss. 4. The variety of activities listed in the daily newsletter offered something for every type of traveler… art auctions, bowling, dance parties, comedy shows, dining and beverage specials, fitness classes, internet access, karaoke, kids clubs, library loans, live musical entertainment, magic shows, port shopping tips, spa services, trivia games, and more. The four string trio and Second City comedy shows were among my favorites. Anyone who says they get bored during an ocean cruise has probably never cruised like a Norwegian aboard a Freestyle NCL ship. I managed to sample about half the activities of interest to me. Would have done others but opted for a more relaxed, less scheduled vacation experience. 5. The quality of the food was consistently above average in terms of flavor, freshness, presentation and taste. Service was excellent most of the time, though not always. Summer Palace and Indigo complimentary restaurants were equally enjoyable in different ways. Preferred Le Bistro over Cagney’s; didn’t try any of the other cover charge specialty restaurants. Garden Café buffet was yummy though crowds of grabby passengers led us to choose table service restaurants for most of our meals. The few times we went to the buffet, we enjoyed dining in the Great Outdoors and La Cucina seating areas. The Blue Lagoon 24 hour café came in handy for an early breakfast one morning, as did room service. However, the scrambled eggs smelled odd and didn’t taste quite right, perhaps powdered instead of fresh, so we ate them only once. Genuinely appreciated the smiling crew with bottles of hand sanitizer greeting passengers as we boarded the ship and/or entered dining areas. Would definitely have purchased a “happy happy, washy washy” T-shirt or tote bag in the gift shop if those items had been available. Top 5 WORST things about cruising Alaska on the NCL Pearl: 1. Too many people; Most of the fellow travelers we met were pleasant, truly. But more than a few were unbelievably rude and self-entitled. Some pushed their way through crowded areas of the ship, talked loudly in otherwise quiet spaces, and allowed their offspring to run wild. With NCL Freestyle cruising, there’s no dress code. Even in the specialty restaurants where smart casual is suggested, some folks wore T-shirts, sweat pants and ball caps. Can’t imagine cruising on a larger ship with even more passengers. 2. Tiny stateroom was a challenge for 2 people to share. The balcony and mirrors helped open up the space visually yet 200 square feet still felt confining. Except for occasional hallway noise the room was quiet. Bedding was crisp, clean and comfortable. Artwork was ideal for a Caribbean cruise but didn’t fit the Alaska itinerary. The design of the bathroom supposedly allowed for concurrent uses though we took turns because it would have been difficult for two people to get in and out of the lavatory at the same time. Though I applaud the efficient cabin design with a place for everything and everything in its place, I would have appreciated a little more square footage as well as an updated neutral décor. 3. NCL boasts the newest fleet of ships sailing to Alaska. The Pearl, which launched in 2006, appeared a bit dated and worn in some areas which made me wonder how other ships compare. Overall the vessel seemed well maintained; no major concerns. Noticed minor repairs were taken care of quickly with minimal down time. Still, NCL should consider scheduling a renovation, or at least strategic aesthetic updates. 4. I would have preferred a more tranquil environment instead of the cruise director’s failed attempt to cultivate a party atmosphere. Based on noticeably lackluster passenger participation in certain activities, apparently other travelers felt the same way. Perhaps part of the reason was interest in the World Cup which was projected on the big screen in the crystal atrium. Another factor could have been the sheer number of programs offered because it was impossible to do everything since multiple activities overlapped. Timing was rarely sensible. Karaoke was scheduled sporadically but only for an hour at a time so not everyone who signed up to sing had the opportunity. Library hours were frustratingly limited. And productions usually had only one showing so acts were easily missed. 5. The little things, lots of little things. No robes in the cabin; only in the spa. No afternoon tea. Shopping guides and a few videotaped activities looped endlessly on the tv but none of the entertainment acts were broadcast so there was no opportunity to watch a show in your cabin if you didn’t go into the Stardust Theatre. Art auctioneer Eugene was likeable but beware of his staff’s upsell pitches which are relentless. Although gratuities were pre-paid, we happily tipped extra when service was impressive. While 80% of the crew was fantastic, 20% were condescending and contemptuous toward passengers, including cruise director Archie and his assistant Richard (Rick). Jefferson (Jeff) and others were much nicer. The Trade Winds gift shop staff lacked customer service skills, especially the blonde woman who spoke with a European accent. When we saw the weather forecast for Glacier Bay listed as 80 degrees, it was clear the newsletter editor mistakenly Googled Glacier National Park in Montana, not Alaska. Bless his/her heart. Overall it was an enjoyable vacation. No regrets. One lesson learned is that 7 days is a long time to spend on a floating resort with other travelers and their children. Next time we’ll likely cruise for a shorter duration on a smaller ship with fewer passengers and hopefully fewer young families. Willing to cruise NCL again. Also want to try other cruise lines to see how they compare.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Pacific Princess Alaska Review – 13-20 May 2014 We booked the Pacific Princess about 6 months in advance, to celebrate of my wife’s birthday. We were intrigued by the concept of a small ship since our days at the rock-climbing walls ... Read More
Pacific Princess Alaska Review – 13-20 May 2014 We booked the Pacific Princess about 6 months in advance, to celebrate of my wife’s birthday. We were intrigued by the concept of a small ship since our days at the rock-climbing walls and zip-lining are sadly behind us and we don’t really desire a huge activity schedule. Reading out on the balcony is more our speed. We have taken 20 + cruises on several different lines, including one other cruise on Princess. We are both customer service providers and are interested in how well cruise staff is trained to respond to travelers. We booked a full suite, which was excellent. The ship just came out of drydock and we were a bit concerned that the smell of paint, carpet glue, etc., might bother us. We found none of this. Previous reviews indicated that the ship badly needed freshening. The only thing I noted was that the pillows on the lobby sofas looked like they were smashed down and lost some stuffing. There were no faded or torn upholstery, peeled wallpaper or other marks visible. We arrived around 11 AM and there were only three porters available at Canada Place. One was tied up with a large group, so it took about 10 minutes to take our baggage. Check in was very efficient and took less than five minutes. We were told that boarding would start around noon and by 12:10 we were on the ship. We heard about the Sanctuary in reviews of other Princess ships and went to the spa to see what it entailed. On this ship there were around 20 chaise lounges surrounding a thalassotherapy pool. The pool had no water, but we were told that it would be filled by the next morning. They charged $99 for the week. Later we found that they charged $99 for the previous 12 day cruise, so we felt a little cheated. As suite guests, they waived the cover charge for the Steakhouse on the first night. The steaks were good, but the vegetables (mushrooms, creamed spinach, asparagus) were excellent. I like to go to a coffee shop (both on and off ships) and have a mint mocha cappuccino. It always amazed me that no ship carried mint syrup but, to our surprise, the Pacific Princess had the alcoholic version. Since I brought my own flask of the non-alcoholic syrup, I was pretty set anyway. They also carried Vitality brand lemonade, our favorite. Then we went to Sabatini’s for breakfast and had a great breakfast. I have always enjoyed a couple of canned figs, when available, for breakfast while on the cruise. Can't get them at home. I asked our waiter, Sandro if he could get them. He said that they didn’t have it but would try to search them out. By the time my wife’s juice arrived, he had the figs in front of me. Nice customer service, Sandro! The food in the main dining room was slightly above average and fairly good (but not spectacular). The TV had the usual channels but the quality of reception, although not HD, was exceptionally good. Never saw a better picture on the ship. Only on one night (the second inside passage day) did the satellite drop out for a few hours. The first day at sea (Inside Passage) was foggy and there was nothing to see. Kind of put a crimp in our plans to sit out in the Sanctuary or our balcony and read. Instead we hung out in the beautiful library, the lobby and the room to read. The sun peeked through about 2 PM but there was still a chill in the air. The next few days (Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Ketchikan) – sunny with temps in the high 60’s and low-mid 70’s on our thermometer. Rather unusual for the first cruise in May. On our last Alaska cruise, the temp never got above 55 degrees. The lowest it got was the low 60’s during inside passage cruising. We had no rain for the entire week. The first inside passage day had a light misty morning. We don’t do much in the way of excursions (already been there, done that in Alaska) so we usually take a long walk around town. We found nothing really special in Juneau and Skagway. Ketchikan had Creek Street, which has some lovely shops along with the usual trinkets. The small size of the ship lends you to see the same passengers over and over again. You can also find many quiet places to stay by yourself or with your significant other. The ride was a little bumpier than we saw on larger ships, but no one appeared seasick. Overall, the ship had a rather dowdy décor, with a crew that gave great customer service. It appeals to folks (like us) who just want to spend time on our own. It was perfect for us.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. ... Read More
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. Hawaii to Vancouver on Millennium 4/15/16 with our new friends Aaron and Edmond. Dining for us was primarily in blu although we did have a dinner in Tuscan and a lunch in Murano. Service was great and the food in nearly every instance was phenomenal. For drinks we tended to stay in the Martini and Molecular bars. Sergei and Adrian in the molecular bar became really good friends over the course of the cruise and they have our contact info to show them around Seattle at some point in the coming weeks. Also won a bit in the casino one night and got a new watch. The excursions we took were great. Weather in Skagway was incredible. Juneau and Ketchikan not so much. Icy Strait was alright but the carving house in Hoonah was definitely the highlight there. The room was great as was the housekeeping staff. Menino always took care of anything we needed without us even needing to ask. Guest Relations took care of a couple gift order questions quickly and efficiently. The spa staff was great as both I and Nick got manicures one night. Only saw a show one night. Solstice the show was fantastic. The broadway reviews etc didn't interest us but Solstice was great. Awesome Cirque Du Soleil feel to it. Bummer about Tracy Arm but that can happen this early in the season and Endicott Arm was a nice last second addition. Not sure what happened with the advertised inside passage cruising but usually going from Seattle we were more used to the open ocean through that stretch Anything I would gripe about? Service was a little slow a couple times in Blu. Nothing too bad but noticeable compared to some other nights that ran like clockwork. The buffet being nearly shut down entirely by 2pm seemed too early. 3pm seems a better time to allow more people a chance. The only big thing I have though was on Juneau afternoon we were in the hot tub and the one we were in was warm but didn't have working jets. We stayed in there around 20 minutes until another had everyone leave and we moved to it for 20-30 minutes. Kinda cool whole being rained on. As no food or other issues lining up had mutual issues for anyone else and it was gone as fast as it started I can only assume what happened within an hour of getting back to the room was a result of over chlorination - Likely due to the fact it was not bubbling and steaming out of the first one due to the broken jets. Everyone else was fine but I got very sick and rather projectile for about 20 minutes back in the room. No other symptoms. Totally done after that. Felt fine again. Everyone else unaffected and anything I ate at least one other person had. I know what to do if it were noro and it most certainly was not. I have shown signs of reactions to strong levels of bleach once before and think this was along the same lines. Next time maybe they ought to just shut off and empty the broken one. I don't blame Celebrity for this as I should have been a little more "in the moment" about it myself as well. Other than that though I would have to say this was a near perfect cruise and Nick (DH) and I can't wait to get onboard another Celebrity ship. We are now HOOKED with the experience they provide! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
EMBARKATION.... was a breeze! We took 2 friends aboard on the Bon Voyage Package and got on the ship before anyone else. It included a tour of the ship and lunch. We were finishing our lunch before most of the others were onboard the ... Read More
EMBARKATION.... was a breeze! We took 2 friends aboard on the Bon Voyage Package and got on the ship before anyone else. It included a tour of the ship and lunch. We were finishing our lunch before most of the others were onboard the ship! LOTUS SPA....I visited the spa the first day at sea for a Thai Poultice massage. But an odd thing happened, the person who started my massage was not the person who finished my massage! Ariana started my massage and Martha finished!! I was not told about this either and when the massage was over, someone else was standing there! Just a little strange. This has never happened to me before!! But the massage was good. I did NOT like the hard sell of products after the massage either! It took away from the blissful feeling! How many times do you have to say NO! I booked a second hot stone massage for another day and also got the same hard sell for products again! Whatever..... I also had a haircut and style from a delightful girl from South Africa. RJ gave me a wonderful cut that I'm so very pleased with! FOOD.... The food on the ship was ok. Better than Carnival by far, but just ok. I got all the pizza I ever wanted. The Horizon Court had good salad bar. The lettuce could have been drier. The desserts were good there also. The service was here was prompt, my iced tea glass never went empty. We went to The Crown Grill one night and the food was devine! The waiters seemed to speak better english here and the service was quick and very courteous. Next time I will eat here every night!! CANCELLED PORTS OF CALL....of course I realize that you can not control Mother Nature! I commend Captain Perrin for getting us safely back to shore. He and his crew did a perfect job of keeping us up to date on the foul weather conditions in store for us. However, I am as guilty as most. I never dreamed it would have gotten THAT BAD! But it did, right at dinner time! We had the good presence of mind to get back to our room and scratch our dinner plans for that night. My husband and I could stand to miss a meal anyway! No biggie! Safety was more important. Glad we did. The next day I heard about windows breaking on the ship and ladies breaking their legs in the storm. So due to this freaky weather, we missed out on Ketchikan and Victoria. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I booked this cruise about a year ago as a way to celebrate my wife's 35th birthday this September. She had always said that she "wanted to see the ice before it melts", so a trip to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl seemed like ... Read More
I booked this cruise about a year ago as a way to celebrate my wife's 35th birthday this September. She had always said that she "wanted to see the ice before it melts", so a trip to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl seemed like a great idea at the time. Flash forward to this year, and I'm sitting here a week and a couple days after returning from this cruise, wishing we were still on it. Sure, there were unbelievably rough seas on day 6 causing us to miss our Port of Call in Ketchikan, but this truly was the trip of a lifetime! The Suite: We had a forward facing port-side corner Owner's Suite on Deck 10. The suite itself was amazing: large bedroom with the forward balcony; one full double-vanity bathroom; a half-bathroom; living area; mini-bar area with a espresso machine and 3 bottles of liquor; dining area; and large side balcony. We had the usual suite perks with a butler, concierge, etc. The suite perfectly suited this trip. Half the awesomeness of cruising Alaska is seeing the views from the ship, and this suite gave us the best vantage points as we pulled into each port and particularly on the day we cruised Glacier Bay. The Itinerary: As we had never been to Alaska before, we were very pleased with the itinerary - although, I suspect, we would've been pleased with any Alaskan itinerary. The key was in the excursions we booked in each port. Missing Ketchikan gives us another reason to go back sooner rather than later; but, with the dangerous weather conditions we encountered, I think NCL made the right call skipping the port. The itinerary included stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria BC in addition to a cruise through Glacier Bay. I will write reviews of each excursion later; however, we booked the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier excursion in Juneau and the White Pass Railway and Laughton Glacier in Skagway. We hiked onto a glacier, and it was awesome. Can't recommend these two excursions enough! The Food: As with most NCL cruises, the food was decent. We skipped the Chef's table yet again because silly NCL has the same menu on each ship for Chef's table. This being our third NCL cruise in 13 months, it just wouldn't have been worth the almost $90 per head to do the same menu again. We ate at Cagney's for breakfast most days (a suite perk) and ate their for dinner, which was quite good. We really enjoyed our dinners at Le Bistro and La Cucina. The meals in the regular dining rooms and buffet were certainly reasonable. But, with the buffets and main dining rooms being so overly crowded, it was worth it to us to spend the extra dollars on the specialty restaurants just to have a more intimate setting. The Service: Overall, the service was excellent. We were fortunate enough to have Monica as our concierge again. She is fantastic, always checking on us and seeing how we were doing. I wish we had been able to see her on our last day to thank her again; but for some reason, we did not. The Entertainment: We love The Second City...just love them! As a treat, we did the Presumed Murdered Luncheon Theater and had a great time. The meal was so-so, but the entertainment made it worth it. The rest of the entertainment was high-quality but just didn't appeal to us. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons? Not. For. Us. While the ship was fantastic, the reason you go to Alaska ''" and what makes this trip ''" is Alaska! What an overwhelmingly gorgeous state! The air quality; the landscapes; the glaciers; it was all unbelievable. My wife and I made so many new and wonderful memories in Alaska. I can't recommend the Norwegian Pearl enough to get you to this beautiful state. This is a trip everyone should do :) Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" ... Read More
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" we sailed w/ apprehension as "journey cruisers". First we'd been to Alaska before and as natives of British Columbia we were not impressed . northern B.C boasts more dramatic and stunning landscapes unless.the traveller is seriously into ice burgs, but Vancouver is our home port. we took public transport and walked straight onto the ship about 2 pm. we cruised w/ carnival (1st and last time) elation and Norwegian star (tolerable w/ a balcony cabin) in feb. (see my reviews) and i was hassled over wearing my glasses for pics, so princess' laid back, but efficient boarding was a treat. our cabin was ready and lucky us we'd been upgraded from an inside to a window cabin. as always we headed straight to the spa and purchased access to the thermal suite (99 per wk) -the special area (10 for a morn or aft) is just plain silly in alaska and was deserted - whose going to pay to sit outside in a cabana in freezing weather? who would sit there for free? the thermal suite offers heated bed similar to HAL, but less elegant and 3 wet spas - eucalyptus, tropical and plain steam. open 9 - 10 my daughter and i went up every night at 9 and relaxed. we had set early dinner, but princess offer "freestyle" if desired. warning - long lines for couples who don't share and large groups. if that's you i'd opt for a set time. dining rm opens at 5:15, but couples got in at 5 somehow and glommed on to a window seat. there was a mix up in our reservation and we were led to a table for 6 --mario, the mgr quickly found us a table for 2 and that worked well for the rest of the voyage. Food - less than HAL, better than NCL or Carnival. i'm diabetic so i eat 5-6 small meals a day so i usually opted for 2 appetizers and 1 desert. sugarless desserts were scrumptious especially the mango mouse cake and taramisu. salads few and mostly inedible w/ bitter greens which drove me to discover .the buffet on the Lido deck had a sumptuous salad bar - we also took to going up there for dessert because of the variety and they were identical in qaullity to dining rm fare. formal night - always the second night at sea uually has surf and turf, but on our cruise it was available first night -- odd. i don't eat red meat, so i was offered 2 servings of prawns (no lobster on the pacific coast). lunch was in the buffet. indian food w/ a different curry every day, great salads, lots of cheese, cold cuts and sandwich fixins', fresh roast of lamb or pork or beef sliced to order, chicken entrees, and fruit and veggies galore. also a burger bar available and an ice cream station. breakfast in the dining rm - pastries, juices, waffles, pancakes,oatmeal, lox and bagels, eggs bennie, and any other way you might order your eggs, ham bacon sausages, hash browns wtx. the buffet also available. In Ketchican (the salmon were running) we had a fresh salmon bar b q. room service - free - pizza $5. rm service offers little variety and the food is ho hum. mostly sandwiches, the ceasar salad was inedible. we discovered we could order the fruit plate and cheese plate from the dining room (marius strikes again) and they would deliver it to our cabin. cabins big and comfortable w/ 2 lg beds side by side and a small table. usual amt of closet spc. safe. shower in bathroom. cabin smaller than HAL; bigger than NCL. robes available on request. our room server was always available and honoured our request to skip the nightly cheap chocolate and towel animals. he knew we ate on schedule and serviced our room when we were at breakfast or dinner. service was fine, but i expect that on a cruise. no complaints; no kudos. room clean (my daughter is fussy). vacuumed weekly. Ports - Ketchican - rains a lot - opposite Prince Rupert, BC (90 min drive) - small and accessible by walking off ship. shopping and small art galleries on Creek st. tours for whale lovers and animal lovers. architecture ho hum. you can walk in the woods - no tour, but be careful not to get lost.not great for shopping wait for Juneau (next port) Juneau. - capital of alaska. pop. 32K. only accessible by ship or plane. first stop on the turn of the century gold rush trail shoppers paradise w/ great sales in sep. - every week in sept. the prices drop except inketchican.. walking distance from ship (10 min to town). Red Dog saloon complete w/ sawdust on the floor -- worth a drink to soak up the ambiance. adequate band w/ a sense of humour.. we were there on a sunday and tried to go to church, but the priest was stuck in a nearby town and his lane was delayed by fog. that info was almost as good as mass. Skagway - it was cold and rainy. took shuttle from ship to town. ($2). museum of gold rush has film and a few artifacts of the bygone era (free). first stop on the gold rush trail and my personal favorite town in alaska.did you know wyatt earp dealt farrow on a ship off the coast for 28 years? train trip booked on ship (1 1/2 hr) gives you a great tour of the surrounding landscape and fun to spot animals. the six block old town in the centre of town is preserved exactly the way it was at the turn of the century w/ wooden sidewalks and freshly painted, but authentic buildings (if you like architecture bring your camera). be sure to see the former mayor's office made out of drift wood.great little restaurants and snack shacks w/lg portions of plain , but hearty fare. shoppers paradise, but diamonds international here is like Juneau. if you get tired of souveneer shops-- try the russian store and for you ladies "temptations" is a fine boutique w/ enchanting styles. i can't resist a visit and always buy something -- remember sept. sales. Red Onion saloon and brothel (offers tours of the brothel along or town and brothel museum at ridiculous prices. still, ladies in authentic dress serve lunch and drinks. Wittier - stay on ship. pop. 225 fork and 90 per cent live in one bldg. from ship you can see the bldg surrounded by train freight depot. really ugly site. Ship - lots to do - we went for a lecture on how to take better pictures, a craft class (on the way up we mad birthday cards and on the way back, boxes), the spa had a health seminar - beware spas are pushing a seaweed cure that my doctor says is bogus. all seminars, even the footprint analysis, end up in selling the algae cure. the spa offers a stretch class 7-7:30 am followed by abs crunch .lots of state of the art fitness equipment. we got hooked on trivia offered 2 times a day, great fun. scrabble and card games offered. i met a woman who entered the elevator chuffed at getting a word for an enormous amt of points. the casino offers bingo as well as the usual slots, cards etc. i was pleased to see the casino was tucked aft and could be avoided if you so choose. taking and perusing and hopefully, on the part of the photographers, buying pics seemed to be a major pastime. Entertainment:the usual hoaky musicals provided w/ the exception of the New Orleans musical that played great music related to new orleans that was so entertaining we watched it on the way up to seward and back. a vegas type music man was pretty good if you like soul. the motown musical was ok as was the world offering. there only the celtic music fit the dancing.-- how could you get jive wrong? the illusionist was disappointing -- he pulled his wife out of ten different boxes - yawn! skipped the comedian. princes offers movies unders the stars, but in alaska its music under the ice, on our trip to the spa at night we saw a few hardy souls who were covered in blankets and cloths that coverdevery part of their bodies excet the eyes. who cares if they offer free pop corn. noone ate it because they would have to remove their mittens. i am happy to report a couple of the movies were shown inside, for example the latest star trek rip off -- it was sad - a rehash of "the wrath of kahn" w/ action and a muddied storyline. a tom cruise sci fi was also shown -- so forgetable i forgot the title. at least i as warm. drinks available during evening performances. The highlight of the trip was dr. ryan, a naturalist. who lectured on the history of the gold rush, whales/otters and took you on deck to see them, and ice burgs. a movie on the people who live in alaska (available on your cabin tv) was enlightening. real survivalists. also park rangers came on board for 6 hrs and taught about the ice burgs and wildlife. while i appreciated that others were thrilled w/ alaska i like the philosophy of a man on deck who said to me, "what is the socially acceptable length of time to stare at an ice burg?" my sentiments exactly. tourists who come to alaska are a hearty breed. on the whole i enjoyed my trip. there was plenty to do on the ship. sometimes i felt like i was running from activity to activity and i skipped a lot. there was time to read and relax. there was also dancing in the bars. and late night activities i skip. i came for r & r and i came home rested and happy. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This little Celebrity ship(91K tons) tried and tried but just could not make it to Seward. She pulled a hammy on her way out of Ketchikan and had to limp back to port. She is now on the the 28 day DL awaiting reconstructive surgery in he ... Read More
This little Celebrity ship(91K tons) tried and tried but just could not make it to Seward. She pulled a hammy on her way out of Ketchikan and had to limp back to port. She is now on the the 28 day DL awaiting reconstructive surgery in he Bahamas. It was a great disappointment to not be able to finish our cruise. The repeating of the same "We are evaluation the root cause" announcement to the constantly changing information regarding charter flights out of Ketchikan for 2000 passengers only added to everyone's frustration. The compensation is fair but could have been better for valid airfare considerations were lacking. The worst has to be the constant changing of charter info from choices of Anchorage, Vancouver or Seattle to just Seattle and Vancouver caused quite an uproar. The notification of which charter group you were in was horrible. They just put a letter and luggage tags on your door. If you were already asleep and had group 1 or 2, you missed the flight. I had group 6 and did not find the info until 9AM Wed. morning. It told us to have our luggage out by 10AM. Oh the fun of it all. It took 6 hours to get the first 3 of ~20 groups off the ship. Otherwise, I found the food in the main dining room and fancy restaurant excellent. They dining staff did an excellent job of accomodating my DW's special requests each night. Our Butler, Ramir, took very good care of us and even assisted when I had a room key issue. Our breakfast each morning in suite was superb. The buffet, as always, is the weak spot in the dining group. The limited selection and constantly closed stations always kept my expectations low. I usually only had salads and pasta. Even they were below par in service, quality and taste. The on board guitar player, Justin Wade, and guest performer Christina Bianco were excellent and I looked forward to their next performances. Passengers for the most part kept a positive attitude until the breakdown in Charter flights. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
After about three dozen cruises over the past 40 years we took our first cruise on Oceania's Regatta. The service was excellent. We have never had such attention from staff on any of our previous cruises. My wife who has a brand-new ... Read More
After about three dozen cruises over the past 40 years we took our first cruise on Oceania's Regatta. The service was excellent. We have never had such attention from staff on any of our previous cruises. My wife who has a brand-new hip was experiencing some difficulty walking and the solicitousness and care and concern of the staff just blew us away. Food was also excellent and we certainly appreciated the ability to dine at will and decide whether we would share or eat privately. We did both and managed to thoroughly enjoy every meal onboard. The one shocking disappointment was when we walked into the cabin on embarkation day. We had seen the size of the cabin in the advertising brochure, but did not realize that the figures published also included the balcony. So when we walked into the cabin we thought we were in the wrong place. We could live with the smaller cabins as long as we know that that's what we will be getting. Overall however the experience was so positive, then we have now booked a spring trip on the Riviera. Here at least, the rooms are larger and we will be prepared for subtracting balcony size. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We had priority boarding via Aquaclass, so I don't think it took more than ten minutes to board the ship after we dropped off our bags. We arrived early to the ship so our balcony stateroom was still being made ready. We headed up to ... Read More
We had priority boarding via Aquaclass, so I don't think it took more than ten minutes to board the ship after we dropped off our bags. We arrived early to the ship so our balcony stateroom was still being made ready. We headed up to the Oceanview cafe for an awesome buffet lunch. We sat outside on the patio in the sunshine and enjoyed our first meal overlooking the water and the Seattle skyline in the distance. This was the beginning of a week long cruise that was nearly perfect. The scenery in Alaska is amazing. Brent Nixon is a naturalist on the ship who did several wildlife presentations that were very educational and entertaining. The Ghost-lite Broadway show was my favorite of the cruise. Hiking in Alaska is free, if I cruise AK again I will skip the high $$ excursions.Aquaclass allows for breakfast and dinner in a restaurant called Blu, I would pay for Aqua just to dine in Blu. Aquaclass offers several more perks too. Liquor on board the ship is incredibly expensive and so are the drink packages. I would compare Celebrity pretty closely to Royal Caribbean, both exceptional. That said, neither is a a luxury cruise line but both work very hard to provide an amazing cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Let me start by saying this site provided most of the research material on selecting a cruise line and itinerary for our first cruise experience. Many thanks to Members who gave honest and accurate feedback, making it an easy descision. ... Read More
Let me start by saying this site provided most of the research material on selecting a cruise line and itinerary for our first cruise experience. Many thanks to Members who gave honest and accurate feedback, making it an easy descision. We booked this thru Costco Travel and was part of the "Costco Wine Cruise" sponsored by Jordan Winery. They teamed-up to make this an over-the-top event. Wine tastings, wine pairing seminars, 4-course wine-paired private luncheon, etc for the lucky 100 to sign up for this. Definitely done first-class all the way by our host Chris Avery (Jordan's Nat'l Sales Director). Amazing ship, crew, and accommodations. Booked Aqua Class and was not disappointed. Definitely worth the upgrade. The staff and cuisine at our exclusive BLU restaurant made it worth the cost alone. Made you feel like you were at your own private club, serving breakfast and dinner. No seating issues, come when you want and get a table. Only ate at one other specialty restaurant the entire cruise (Murano French Classic), because they offered Aqua Class guests a 2 for 1 special the first night of the cruise ($45 add-on). Having their signature Lobster Murano flambed in congnac tableside was a real treat. Perfect weather with 75-85 degree days made us feel like we never left Southern California. Every shore excusion, venue, and guide made us feel like family and could not have worked out better. From Salmon fishing in Ketchikan, to Glacier Expeditions in Juneau, to Ziplining in Skagway (Grizzly Falls Zipline was a blast!), to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, this was simply the best vacation we have even been on....period. I will say that we met numerous "veteran" cruisers who had been on upwards of 10 cruises on 5 or 6 different cruise lines, and all commented that Celebrity was far and away the best ship with the best food...no question. If you ever get the chance to sail the Solstice, do yourself a favor and book it. Anyone making a negative comment about this cruise needs to get a life! Thanks Celebrity for the trip of a lifetime!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Alaska is Beautiful! First Time on The Jewel by a veteran cruiser: NCL Jewel Review (Jun 22-29) Background to review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. On ... Read More
Alaska is Beautiful! First Time on The Jewel by a veteran cruiser: NCL Jewel Review (Jun 22-29) Background to review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. On this cruise, we booked a penthouse suite on deck 8 aft, Room 8132. We enjoy the extra amenities of eating breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s restaurant, the services of the concierge, and especially using the Mandara Spa (cost is $119 for the week and well worth it). Not that everything on the NCL Jewel was the best in the cruise industry, but the combination of the ship, the crew, the entertainment(outstanding), the excursions, the food, the friends we met, and of course the SPA, made for a great week. Overall Evaluation: (more detail comments appear below) • Our suite was very comfortable with a great view (first time in an AFT suite) • Food quality was superb everywhere, not just in the specialty dining areas like on other ships. We ate three nights in Tsar’s, 2 nights in Le Bistro (highly recommend….not crowded, excellent food and service), 1 night in Cagney’s, and one night in the Café. • General dining room (Tsar’s) offered a good variety, with excellent quality, but sometimes the service was inconsistent. • Entertainment was excellent. Probably the best dance group I have seen on any cruise line. Do NOT miss Le Cirque Bijou…..OUTSTANDING. • Thermal Spa was great. The heated tile chairs looking out over the front of the ship were relaxing and provided a great view. • The staff was friendly and helpful and our Concierge, Leah Rodriquez, was outstanding. SUITE: I booked a Penthouse Suite on deck 8 at the back of the ship at the recommendation of the NCL representative. He was correct about the great views we had in Alaska. A perk for suites owners is access to Cagney’s restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Service is exceptional and the food is superb. DINING: Some people criticize anytime dining but I prefer it. It allows me to control when and where I eat based upon the day’s activities. Other people may prefer traditional dining because they are able to meet other cruisers and develop a relationship with them. Besides breakfast and lunch in Cagney’s, we ate at the buffet in Garden Café, Cagney’s, Tsar’s, Le Bistro, and the Blue Lagoon. I have absolutely NO complaints about the food at any venue. I could have eaten at the buffet every night and been happy; it was that good. Le Bistro was outstanding. It was NOT crowded and provided a great dining atmosphere with great food and service. Do NOT miss the “Chocoholic Buffet” held in the Café. The entire café has various types of deserts and sculptures made of various kinds of chocolate. I can summarize the dining experience by saying “The food was EXCELLENT everywhere.” MANDARA SPA: OUTSTANDING and worth the $119 for the week if you are looking to relax, get away from the crowds, and just enjoy the great views from the heated tile chairs. This is one area of the ship I frequent often. The exercise room has the typical equipment. Access to the Thermal Spa costs $119 per person but it is SO WORTH it. You get access all week from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm. The Thermal Spa has: • Relaxation areas for men only, women only and a unisex relaxation area. All areas overlook the front of the ship and have a great view through the large glass windows on deck 12. • The unisex room has a hydrotherapy pool and heated tile lounge chairs that will put you to sleep…..these alone are worth the extra money. They also provide juice, water and assorted types of hot tea. • Large male and female locker rooms with ample lockers, shower, hair dryers, steam room, sauna, hot tubs, and a flat screen TV. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows in the Stardust theater were OUTSTANDING. Two shows are definitely labeled as “DO NOT MISS”: Band on the Run and Le Cirque Bijou. Do not miss the final Farewell Variety Showtime on Day 7. It provides a great emotional high and a fitting tribute to a great cruise. PORTS: Ketchikan: Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Some other reviews talked about long lines but I did not experience this. Two gangways were used and the ship docks right in town. Easy access to all shops. Great little port. We did not do any excursions here but shopped and ate in a local tavern. Juneau: Where the Jewel docked is quite a walk to town. Make sure you take the SHUTTLE. It looks close but you have to go up, around and down a hill to the town. That is the only way and it is not easy if you are not fit. We rented a car from Juneau Rental which is one-half mile from the ship. We were able to disembark, get the car and beat all the buses and traffic to the Mendenhall Glacier. We then drove up to Auke Bay Harbor to see the whales. We did not take the Tram up Mt. Roberts because my wife does not like heights but it is the first thing you come to in town. Skagway: Easy walk to downtown. We also took the White Pass Railroad Train. Well worth the money. We booked the 12:55 train hoping the weather in the afternoon might be better than in the morning. Worked our perfect since it was foggy in the morning and the people did not have a great view. We had an excellent view. Our waiter told us to make sure we sat in the FIRST car behind the engines on the left side of the train going up. On the way back, the engines moved to the other end of the train and we had a wonderful view standing on the back platform of the last train car. Victoria: GREAT, CLEAN CITY. We walked from the ship to the waterfront. Easy 20 minute walk (just follow Oswego street) through beautiful neighborhoods to the waterfront and the Empress Hotel. DISEMBARKATION: Could not have been easier. Also, there are plenty of $12 shuttles to the airport. We took the Shuttle Express from the airport to the ship and from the ship to the airport.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We arrived two days early to visit Vancouver and stayed at a B & B, Bee & Thistle Guest House, Best in Vancouver. The owner Michael picked us up at the train station and dropped us off at the port on departure day, super ... Read More
We arrived two days early to visit Vancouver and stayed at a B & B, Bee & Thistle Guest House, Best in Vancouver. The owner Michael picked us up at the train station and dropped us off at the port on departure day, super accommodating, great breakfasts and comfy rooms; first class place (5 stars). We left May 21, 201 from Vancouver on the Rhapsody of the Seas first run of the season of the inner passage. Got to Canada Place early to avoid the confusion as three ships were in at one time. I understand all future departures for this season will be from Seattle, not Vancouver - check with your travel agent. We stayed in Grand Suite 8012 with is located on the bridge deck, close to the stairs and elevators. But one level down from the Windjammer and two decks down from the kids program on deck 10. Neither effected our level of enjoyment. Our room Suite Attendant was Inyoman (Newman) and out of 20 plus cruises, he made it happen; noteworthy service and made our holiday special. From the cleanness of the rooms to perfect attentiveness with privacy consideration. We loved sitting out on our balcony, Newman brought down lounge chairs for us as we sat in hopes of seeing a pod of whales. You have to bring out the blankets and make yourselves some hot chocolate. There is hot milk in the coffee machine for the hot chocolate, much better than hot water. With the grand suite you get the use on the Concierge Club, Crown Lounge deck and at your service is Concierge Amit Chattopadhyay - Amit makes it all come together and his right hand man, Sam, is fun and charming and makes a mean cocktail :). This ship has both a Diamond Lounge and a Concierge Club, both were equal in the level of service. The Captain had a party and even sang to us, good voice and paired perfectly for the Rhapsody. Our trip was timed perfectly with the tides and moon phase as the Captain Rick Sullivan was about to give the show of the season at Tracy's Arm - wow, Wow, WOW! My favorite part of they trip, make sure you get up early. The entertainment on board was lack luster and we never got to see the Encore Aerial Performance. We had an opportunity to dine at Chops Grille, the Chef's Table and Giovanni's. Evelyn served use at Chops and we had the filet mignon and I had the porterhouse - I should have also gotten the filet also. The Chef's Table was a lot of fun with great food with wine pairing - the Chef and Wine Concierge introduced each new dish and wine prior to presentation and at the end everyone left with a RCCL Cookbook and Chef's Table Apron. Giovanni's was our last and it was excellent also. We also enjoyed the spa which is one of the nicest spa and massages ever. My better half also had her nails done -- totally relaxing. wow, Wow, WOW -- a must do cruise... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have enjoyed tours on board Princess line in Mexico and the Caribbean, so we decided to try Holland America for our Alaskan cruise. The Westerdam sailed out of Seattle towards Glacier Bay and back for a 7 day vacation. Though it is a ... Read More
We have enjoyed tours on board Princess line in Mexico and the Caribbean, so we decided to try Holland America for our Alaskan cruise. The Westerdam sailed out of Seattle towards Glacier Bay and back for a 7 day vacation. Though it is a smaller ship by 30% compared to Princess Line, it was just right for us. We didn't have to spend a long time walking from one part of the ship to the other. It actually is the right size for a voyage; you may have more venues on a bigger ship, but really, how many more bars or restaurants or swimming pools did you need? Traditionally, we use on board laundry facilities by paying with coins. But they only offered daily laundry for $49 total. We used it every day to our delight. (I've never had my underwear pressed !) We paid extra to dine in the Pinnacle Grill which offers good food and personal service. The Vista Dining room, either open or fixed dining, offers very good food too, but the service is more hurried and cookie cutter. My bride pondered why we spent extra money on the Pinnacle Grill and the Italian restaurant when the Vista offered equally good food. The difference is a smaller venue and more personal service. They offered some musical shows, funny comedians and a magician in the Vista Lounge. One show that is peculiar to Holland America but we enjoyed is a "crew Show". One week the Philippino crew performs songs and dances and the next week an Indonesian crew offers their version. The crew seemed to genuinely enjoy the opportunity to showcase their culture and their talents. An Alaskan cruise, even in August, found the weather to be overcast and chilly with rain each day. So bring a windbreaker, sweater and hat. Most of the guests were from parts of America in the 90 degrees so they enjoyed the weather. We also discovered that we could have breakfast room service at no added cost. On other vessels they might offer a limited breakfast, but this was most a big menu. All in all, I would take Holland America cruise over Princess any day. On the last afternoon good bye show, it was secreted that only 3 ships on the seas have escaped broad sickness and Westerdam is one. They keep it clean and to notch. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We wanted to cruise Alaska. Shopped all sorts of options and decided to try Norwegian. Loved every single step of the way. Arrived in Seattle a day ahead. Didn't want to chance an airline gaffe. Morning of the cruise, walked from ... Read More
We wanted to cruise Alaska. Shopped all sorts of options and decided to try Norwegian. Loved every single step of the way. Arrived in Seattle a day ahead. Didn't want to chance an airline gaffe. Morning of the cruise, walked from our hotel to Pike Place and had time to shop. Around noon we headed to the Pier. Embarkation was EASY. The lines were a little long to drop off baggage but it moved at a good pace. We were greeted repeatedly along the process by land and sea staff. Once onboard, we checked out our room. Was terrific! Just below and down 4 windows from the bridge. Headed to Garden Cafe to have a bite to eat. Watched the Navy families on the shore visiting their enlisted members while we had lunch. We also bought spa memberships the first day. This allowed us to go to the spa each day for the co-ed area to sit in the thermal pool and then lounge on the heated chairs while viewing the scenery from a bank of windows along the front of the ship. No kids allowed - and quiet rules. Also there is a poolside cookout the night the ships leaves Seattle. Burgers, steaks, chicken on large open grills. All the trimmings. We never ate at a specialty restaurant. Didn't need to. Plenty of choices without them. We had laundry done 2x but waited for the cruise special. It was $24.99 for all we could cram into the bag. The magician is a great entertainer though his jokes might not resonate with younger viewers. But they were good and not offensive. The hypnotist was hysterical - you MUST go to the adult show. We also went to her session on weight loss for kicks. Managed to both be hypnotized with others in the audience. We took in a workshop on detoxing the body as well. The ship was clean and in good repair. The staff NOTHING BUT HELPFUL. We loved our room steward "Maria" and our favorite waitress "Jenele" who works in Azura. We found both dining rooms to be nice. The view at Tzar's are better but Azura had a more comfy feel. Be sure to have your camera with you in the dining rooms because you might see something you want to photograph. One night a pod (?) of humpback whales passed us. It was just .. well.. incredible. As is typical, drinks can add up. We aren't soda drinks just libations or tea or water. Water from the tap is fine to drink. Rooms are tight but that's how it goes on a cruise. We had plenty of space for the 2 of us (closet, drawers, shelfs) but I don't think any more than 2 could be comfortable in the balcony room we had. I said before that I'd never use an inside cabin again. Well now I don't think I can ever go without a balcony again. Very nice to be able to stand or sit outside and feel the air. We did this frequently in our flannel pj's. The absolutely only downer was our neighbors smoking on their balcony. Going through Glacier Bay it dampened our ability to sit outside and watch the scenery. Smoking is only allowed on balconies and I think on deck 7 outside midship. So NCL does about all it can to keep both smokers and non-smokers appeased. Getting off the ship was easy. Figure out the time you want off the ship and then get the tags to go on your luggage. Then when its your time to leave, you get off the ship, grab your bags and get a cab. We chose the 8:30 slot since we had flights at 12:45. We didn't go with a group bus trip back to the airport. We just grabbed a taxi. Worked fine and was easy. We arrived at the airport well in advance of our flight. When we do this trip again, we'll probably book a flight that leaves late morning instead. As I said, we want a do over. But it's not because we didn't enjoy it. It was the best time ever. We met a number of other couples on this cruise who had taken the same cruise a number of times. We get it now. It's so terrific, the ports have so much to offer, and the scenery changes from one area to another. Beats the Carib cruises where you see the same type of islands over and over... and drink rum that's a tad different but yet the same. Favorite port? ALL. Probably it was bear watching at Ketchikan or Taku Lodge in Juneau. But that's only if we're forced to make a choice. Pick this cruise... I can't imagine not being happy with it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Sailed Celebrity Infinity round trip Seattle - Tracy Arm Fjord - June 15 - 22, 2012. When we boarded (which seemed pretty organized) and finally were on board the ship, we passed a couple of crew members standing next to some Mimosas. ... Read More
Sailed Celebrity Infinity round trip Seattle - Tracy Arm Fjord - June 15 - 22, 2012. When we boarded (which seemed pretty organized) and finally were on board the ship, we passed a couple of crew members standing next to some Mimosas. They never offered any to us. I went up and asked if those were for us and then we were given some. What a send off! That should have been the tip off for me that this trip was not customer oriented. My biggest complaint was that they did not advertise their grand brunch, buffet, or whatever you want to call it. After being on 6 cruises, this is the first time I have ever missed this special event. It was never mentioned in any of the entertainment evenings or in any of the literature that was given to us. We would get special invitations to sales events for whatever they were pushing that day, but nothing about the buffet. As Aqua Class, we ate in the Blu Restaurant instead of the Trellis where the brunch was. Blu was much less hectic. We did eat in the Trellis one day for lunch, and I don't think I would have enjoyed that huge dining room for dinners. The Blu Restaurant which was part of Aqua Class was much more intimate. However, they never told us about the grand buffet. I fell and injured myself on a tour, or I probably would have been asking when it was, but normally you don't have to ask because they are so well advertised. We found out that we had missed it when we went to lunch in the Trellis Restaurant just to see what it was like. The people said that the brunch had been outstanding - lobster, crab legs, ice carvings, chocolate bar. They showed us pictures with carved watermelons. They also said they didn't know about it either, they actually stumbled across it when they went to see what the "brunch" was (since this was the restaurant that they always ate in). They were not Aqua Class so they were eating dinner in the Trellis every night and nobody told them either! Another couple at the table was also Aqua Class and was completely,as she said, "devastated" when they found out that they, too, had missed the brunch. There is a whole column in the paper every day devoted to eating times in all the different restaurants and the only indication of this special event was the word "brunch" 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. listed under Trellis. Not even highlighted or capitalized! Why would you have two dress-up evenings and then have the brunch/buffet in the middle of the day!!! Since most of the cruises I have been on recently refer to it as a "buffet" I didn't even realize this was the big event, plus it was listed under a restaurant that we weren't eating in because we were Aqua Class. We didn't eat in the Trellis so would have no reason to view their hours. I complained to the Guest Relations Supv and she said that it was printed in the newsletter. I said surely you don't expect everyone to recognize this event simply by the word brunch. She kept saying the same thing and finally I got to talk to the Guest Relations Manager who could have cared less. He said it was basically water under the bridge since it was already passed - too late to do anything. He also said it was printed in the newsletter: brunch. He said the waiters should have told us. I wish I had asked them to prepare me a lobster/crab dinner and send it to my room as I never got to have any on my Alaskan cruise! We did have lobster one night in Blu, but it was fixed in some sauce, so it wasn't that good. They all seem to think the word brunch lets everyone know this is the gala event. At least this is their pathetic excuse. It wasn't even highlighted. I was starting to get bored with his cruise and this event would really have helped liven things up. Especially since it's always the highlight of any cruise. I asked some people in the elevator if they had attended the brunch, and they also said they didn't know about it. I REALLY BELIEVE THAT CELEBRITY INFINITY INTENTIONALLY DOES NOT ADVERTISE THIS EVENT. I DON'T KNOW IF IT IS FOR COST REASONS OR OVERCROWDING. Someone suggested that maybe they don't have enough room for everyone. I repeated that to the Guest Relations Manager, but he said that was not the case. I have never seen a ship that was so disinterested in the satisfaction of their cruisers. IT JUST FLOORS ME THAT THEY DIDN'T CARE THAT WE MISSED THAT BRUNCH...IT'S REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE. I was so dissatisfied with the response from Guest Relations, that I contacted the Cruise Director. He was nicer (said it was printed in the newsletter - brunch), but said it wasn't his area, he would have the Food Manager call me. The Food Manager never called me. Needless to say, this is the worst customer service I have ever seen. As Aqua Class we got to use the Persian Gardens. These were amazing - steam and dry saunas, some herbal. This was a nice perk in Aqua Class but doesn't make up for no notification about the brunch. The food on Infinity was good - not excellent. We ate at Blu (nice atmosphere), the Oceanview Cafe - buffet style, Aqua Spa Cafe (health conscious, very limited choices) and Cafe al Bacio Gelateria. Our Room was Aqua Class 9093 veranda. There is an overhang from the floor above which I didn't know about until the last minute. As someone said, it is a curse or a benefit depending upon how you look at it. It did take effort to keep the overhang and side rails out of pictures. However, in poor weather it did keep our chairs from getting wet. We thought our bathroom had a distinct smell of urine. We asked to have it cleaned again, but it didn't change much. We just tried to ignore it. I don't know if it's just the smell of the bathrooms or if there was a problem. I really didn't feel comfortable asking any other cruisers if their bathrooms smelled of urine. The couple who also missed the brunch, said their shower was actually flooding badly on the Deck above us - don't know if that was 10 or 11. They were Aqua Class. All of the tours we selected were top notch. I was injured on one tour at the Suspension Bridge in the Yukon. The floorboards were uneven in the restaurant causing me to trip into the steel counter-top and smash my rib cage. I went to the clinic on the boat when we returned 3 or 4 hours later and had an x-ray. They didn't charge me because it was on a sponsored tour. The doctor said it didn't look like a fracture but I should see my doctor when I get back if it still hurts. She said their X-ray machine was good, but not great. I wanted a copy of the medical report for my traveller's insurance, but they said I would have to pay $25. I didn't think that was right and ended up not getting one. I put a call in to the nurse on the last day because I thought I better spend the $25 for it, but again no one called me back. The naturalist on the ship was outstanding - Brent Nixon. He was very animated and even acted out some of his presentations. Some people thought this was too much, but we found him extremely interesting. The comedian also was exceptional and I'm sorry I can't remember his name. The musical numbers were very good, but with about three shows like that produced by the same people it became a little boring. I started to feel bored on this cruise, and that's another reason the brunch would have livened things up. We did go to some Karaoke in one lounge and dancing in the Constellation. I had expected so much from Celebrity and was sorely disappointed. Customer service was lacking. I don't fell like they cared about their cruisers. Our last cruise was a Viking River Cruise in Europe and from the food, to the staff there is no comparison. We still gave everyone their full tips because we didn't want to penalize them, but the service just wasn't up to par. So now I'm back at home with extremely sore ribs, getting ready to go to my doctor, and wishing I could be more excited about the trip I was just on considering how much money we spent. Our vacations have always been outstanding - I guess every one can't be that way. Somewhere along the line you have a not-so-good one, and for me it was Celebrity Infinity. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I are loyal RCCL cruisers and in our early 50's. This was our 30th Wedding Anniversay and our friend who is a travel agent recommended we try Celebrity. So off we went to Alaska on the Celebrity Infinity. What a great ... Read More
My husband and I are loyal RCCL cruisers and in our early 50's. This was our 30th Wedding Anniversay and our friend who is a travel agent recommended we try Celebrity. So off we went to Alaska on the Celebrity Infinity. What a great decision we made. We sailed at the end of June out of Seattle and booked an Aqua Class cabin. We arrived in Seattle the Wednesday evening before the cruise. We stayed at the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle. It was a lovely hotel and right in the center of things. We were able to do a Savor Seattle tour the next day which I highly recommend. Saw all the tourist stuff. Seattle is a great city. We arrived at the pier around 11am by cab and were able to check in right away. The line for Aqua Class passengers moved very quickly and efficiently. We were onboard in under half an hour. Mimosa in tow we went up to Bistro on Five for lunch. I want to thank my fellow cruisecritic members for this tip on the first day. The food was great and the service excellent. We had lunch there several times during the trip. Our cabin was ready before 1pm and our luggage came quickly after that. We met Norma our Aqua Class cabin steward who was wonderful. Anything you needed she was there. Let me tell you these people work hard and always have a smile on their faces. Every staff member we saw from the people wiping down the staircases to the Captain always had a hello with a smile on their face. The cabin was very nice and had lovely amenities such as a shower with a waterfall shower head and spa jets. Let me tell you I loved this shower. I could actually move in it. The cabin was very clean and the bed was extremely comfortable. We had Aqua Class dining in Blu which was a five star dining experience every night. We did not have dinner in the speciality restaurants during the week. Service during all of our meals was exceptional. A shout out to Donovan, Billy, Enrique, Gabrial, Svetlana and many others. We were able to dine around 6:30pm every evening which worked well for us. The first night we had a window seat and were seated next to a lovely couple celebrating their 55th Wedding Anniversary. Great conversation. The next night they asked to sit next to us and we ended up eating together every night after that. Great company, great food, and even greater wine. The breakfasts in Blu were alway excellent. The muesli made to order was delicious. The smoothies were varied and delicious. The entertainment on this ship was phenomenal in my opinion. Having sailed on the larger RCCL ships with larger productions the Celebrity Infinity entertainment was superb. These people put their heart and soul into every show. The entertainment throughout the other areas of the ship were also great. They had a comedian who was very funny. The illusionist, Jason Bishop was phenomenal. If you have a chance to see him please do. They also had arielists who were artists in the true sense of the word. The cruise director, Ian did a fabulous job the entire week. The speaker, Brent Nixon was not to be missed. His passion for Alaska is unparrelled. Everyone should hear him speak. The ports of call for this cruise were Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, and Victoria, B.C. In Ketchikan we did a seaplane tour through the Misty Fjords with Seawind Aviation which I booked directly with the company. The scenery was spectacular. We flew through the fjord and landed on a lake and were able to get out of the plane to view the majestic landscape. After this we walked through the town down to Creek Street. There are a lot of great shops down there. Bought some Alaskan art. In Skagway we booked a White Pass summit tour with Discover Skagway tours. This was amazing. In Juneau we took the blue bus to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked to Nugget Falls to see the glacier and the waterfall. Let me tell you this gives you an appreciation for mother nature. In Victoria, B.C. we did a classic car tour of the city in a 1965 Pontiac Parisienne. I felt like a movie star. Disembarkation was a breeze. It was so organized. We had an early flight so we were in one of the first groupings to get off the shop. We were off the ship in half an hour and on our way to SeaTac for the flight home. I know that everyone has a different cruise experience but I hope that everyone can see Alaska once in their lifetime. It is an amazing place and the people who live there are very passionate and friendly. Would I sail Celebrity again? In a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I really wanted to write a rave review, but can't even come close. I will be honest about my personal bias in some matters for which Celebrity has little or no responsibility, so that readers can sort out what's relevant to them. ... Read More
I really wanted to write a rave review, but can't even come close. I will be honest about my personal bias in some matters for which Celebrity has little or no responsibility, so that readers can sort out what's relevant to them. We arrived the day before departure, and stayed at the Inn at the Market in Seattle. Lovely inn with helpful staff, across the street from the Pike Place Market, and within easy walking distance of several restaurants and shops. Took a cab to the pier at about 1PM, where the Very Long Check In began. Got in the first line to have our bags scanned and dropped off (15 minutes), got in the next line to go up the escalator (about 30 minutes), got in another line to go through security (10 minutes), and were sorted into yet another line to be checked into our cabin. Fortunately for us, the concierge class had a very short line and we had to wait just a few minutes to see an agent for our cabin. The non-concierge passengers were herded into a zig-zagging queue that had to be several-hundred-persons long, and reminded me of Ellis Island. Even the Captains Club line had several dozen people I felt profoundly lucky. Once checked in, we ordered into another line to get our picture taken, which we quickly dodged, to get into another line to the gangway to get on the ship. The ship had a nice layout, with several unique places to enjoy a drink, hot beverage, ice cream, or just a book or a nap. It seemed well-maintained and clean. We rarely saw the officers, but didn't look for them, either. Our cabin was on the 11th floor, aft, and overlooked the bar and restaurant on the 10th deck. The balcony was not as quiet as I would have preferred, but it wasn't noisy. Smoke odor was not a problem. The problem for me was 195 SF, the room was too small. The closet and bathroom doors could not be open at the same time. Space between the foot of the bed and the mirror was about 18 inches. My DH and I couldn't dress by the closet at the same time, and since that's where the bathroom is, this required a strategic plan if one needed to shower and dress for dinner. I am fussy about hotel rooms on vacation. I originally wanted a Celebrity Suite, but when the Aqua Class staterooms were priced less than a regular balcony cabin, it seemed like a great deal. We saved money, but at the expense of enjoying our cabin. The room was attractively decorated and well appointed. Our cabin steward truly understood customer service, and intuited our preferences with incredible speed. The best cabin steward we had ever had. FTR, we left him a nice extra tip. The other problem with the cabin was our neighbors, who were traveling with friends and considered every cruise a booze cruise. The more drunk they got the louder they got, and they were loud to begin with. At one point, somebody was yodeling. I wish I was making this up, and I know it's not the cruise line's fault. By the time the cruise had come to an end, I wanted to toss live crabs on their balcony. Dining became an ordeal that I didn't look forward to. We were assigned to Blu, and appeared as scheduled the first night. We waited about 15 minutes to be seated when about half of the space was empty. Once seated, water was promptly poured, and we waited for a waiter. Our food came out in good time, but I had to ask for wine and my husband for iced tea after our food was served. This required the sommelier. My wine came, and my husband ate his meal without his tea. I asked for a wine refill, which the waiter brought, and nobody asked my husband if he would like another beverage. Our waiter was looking around the dining room while serving us, to see what was going on, I suppose. This entire scene repeated itself the next night, and at the main dining room days later. The buffet was, well, a buffet. Nothing to write home about. Plenty of food, not a lot of flavor. Again, beverages created bafflement; a coke or an iced tea apparently had to be delivered by tugboat from a cache on a nearby island. Dinner needed a Benny Hill soundtrack to make it complete. The SS United States was the exception to our dinnertime debacles. It was the fine dining experience in food and service that we expected (and paid extra for) from beginning to end. We loved it. My DH doesn't drink at all, but I do. I purchased the premium non-alcoholic beverage package for him, and the premium alcohol package for me. He didn't mind accompanying me to check out a couple of the lounges. We went to the Constellation lounge in the front of the ship, which is a good place to nap in the daytime. He accompanied me for an after-dinner drink at Michael's Club. We both enjoyed the bartenders' acrobatics at the Martini Bar. I enjoyed the Sunset Martini, and wish we would have gone to the Martini Bar earlier in the trip. We both enjoyed the Naturalist, Brent Nixon, and his discussions about Alaskan wildlife and sea life were packed for good reason. He had plentiful information presented in a funny and memorable style. After the first lecture we attended, we would plan around his talks! DH and I looked forward to the spa. We have had outstanding spa experiences on another cruise line, had heard good things about the Infinity, and were hoping for a similar experience. This was not going to happen. The spa was understaffed and ill-equipped. The Infinity has a nice Persian garden facility with multiple steam rooms and showers located behind the desk, but you need to figure it out for yourself. Tours were not offered. No spa shoes. Water not available for spa patrons. Robes checked in and out at the front desk with the locker key. The desk staff was not friendly, and insisted on booking the least desirable appointment times first. There was a locker room attendant, but she read her magazine and did not offer help. The locker room offered the same shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that was in the stateroom, but that was it. I asked for a hairdryer at the front desk, and the attendant told me that they don't have them "because electricity and water don't mix." Better not tell her about the electric Azipod propulsion units submerged as we speak. The cherry on top of this cruise of disappointment was the offensive treatment that we received at Guest Relations. I do not use "offensive" lightly. I recognize mistakes, I expect inexperience and a certain amount of incompetence. All of this is manageable and forgivable if addressed. You allow your employees to deliberately offend me and you've lost me as a customer for life. The first sea day, I checked our account on the television service, and found that drinks were incorrectly charged to us. I went to Guest Relations, explained the mistake, and was told that it would be taken care of. A few days later, I looked, and the charges were still there. I went back down to Guest Relations and was again told that the charges would be removed. After receiving our invoice the night before departure, we reviewed the charges, and the incorrect drink charges will still there. Now, I was irritated. I waited in yet another Celebrity line at Guest Relations (last night on the cruise). When I got to the desk, I asked to see a manager. The desk agent asked if she could help me, and for the third time, I explained the problem. She said she would take care of it. I said that I was not leaving until I had received a credit or spoken to a manager. I asked for her manager's name. She refused to give it to me. The Guest Relations agent then accused me of lying, buying drinks for friends and trying to get out of the bill, and argued and argued with me. In front of employees and customers. I was beyond livid at this point, but was so insulted, that I was not going to leave until justice was served. I don't even like writing about this; it makes me upset. Lesson learned. I don't ever want to be a "Celebrity" again. When people ask about our cruise, I tell them about Alaska. Alaska was beautiful, Alaskans were friendly, there was so much to see and do! It was a great experience, and I want to go back. But I don't tell them about the cruise. I don't care to remember it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Ok! First let me start out by telling you if you are going to go on a cruise to anywhere in the world. Do your research! I cannot believe how many people would go on a cruise without taking advantage of all the information that is out ... Read More
Ok! First let me start out by telling you if you are going to go on a cruise to anywhere in the world. Do your research! I cannot believe how many people would go on a cruise without taking advantage of all the information that is out there regarding the region you are going to be traveling in. Hello!!! There are 3 things you have to keep in mind when going on a cruise to Alaska. #1) Possibility of rough seas #2) Possibility of rain #3) Cold weather! I bring this up because, YES! There were passengers on board who were unprepared for this cruise. Because of this, they were miserable. I am a first time cruiser. However, my wife isn't. She told me to make all the arrangements for our cruise. This way I would learn all the in's and Out's. I had so many questions and so much to learn. Learn I did. I was completely prepared for our cruise and had a wonderful time. Here is some tips that I picked up by reading so many wonderful reviews here on Cruise Critic as well as joining the Roll Call for our particular cruise. Check the average weather forecast for the region you are traveling. As well as each port! Be prepared to dress in layers of clothes and bring a light jacket that is water proof. having gloves and a warm hat are nice to have especially in Glacier Bay. Bring a travel size umbrella. It rained five out of the seven days we were on vacation. If you get sea sick. Start taking your medications before you start your cruise and keep taking them throughout. Drink ginger ale, Eat green apples as well as crackers (Yes, they serve both items on-board the ship). Also, spend most of your time in the middle of the ship. If you can, try and select a room that is as close to the middle of the ship as possible and as low to the water as well. Less rocking and rolling there. Embarkation: As many of you have read. Princess cruises knows how to get people on-board there ships in an extremely efficient manner. I can say this without any reservations that I agree. We had arrived early at the terminal at Pier 91 in Seattle around 9:30 am. I knew we would have to wait. No Big Deal! I guess you can call it First time cruiser anticipation! My wife was laughing at me the whole time. Hey we weren't the only ones waiting! LOL...As soon as Princess opened the terminal around 10:00 am. We checked our luggage with customs. Then went to the check in counter, were we received our room keys after handing over the appropriate documents. Than it was more waiting til they started to load the ship in groups of about 200 passengers starting at 11:00 am. We were unfortunately not part of the first group. Because we were not preferred passengers. However, we were next. as soon as yo get on-board you have you r picture taken for security reasons and than your picture is taken again for your embarkation photo. After that it is party time your cruise has pretty much begun. We went straight to our cabin to check it out. It was wonderful. Than we called the Dine line at noon and made our request to eat at the chefs table (by the way the price to dine at the chefs table went up from $75 to $95 per person. But still worth it in my opinion). As passengers are boarding the ship they are told to go to the Horizon court for lunch. We learned from other cruise critic members that one of the main dining room is open at this time. So we went there and had a nice relaxing and great tasting lunch and watched from the window all the activity of getting the ship ready for leaving. At 3:30 pm we had our life boat muster drill. that didn't take to long. Than it was party time. By the way! for the first day and a half. expect all the offers to buy soda, coffee, and ultimate kid package drink stickers. We put our room keys on a lanyard around our neck so we weren't bothered that much because the stickers are placed on your room key and visible to the serving staff. first day at sea: We had rough seas (Swells approximately 17 feet tall)that lasted about a day and a half. We had a couples massage planned for 9:15 am. We still enjoyed the treatment and commend the therapists for the great job under the conditions. Items that were on the shelves and counter ended up on the floor and the wooden sliding shutters that covered the windows were slamming back and forth against the wall. That is my only complaint about the spa. Not very practical for a ship at sea. Dining: We chose Traditional dining 2nd seating (8:15 PM). Food was wonderful and the service was superb! We had great table mates. The only thing we would do different next time is do the first seating next time. Second seating didn't allow us the freedom to see the shows we wanted to see. we were so busy during the day that we were to tired to see the late shows. 10:30 Pm and on... Special thank you to our server Svetlana. She indulged my desire to try so many things I have never tried before. We ate at the Chefs Table on our 3rd day of the cruise. Well worth the money paid. It was a pleasure from start to finish. My wine glass was never empty and the food just kept coming. The Horizon court buffet, The food there was pretty darn good. I was pleasantly surprised. My only complaint is that the serving lines as stated before have no rime or reason to them. Yes you go in one way and out another. But while you are in, it can be a mad house at the popular times. also, when you sit down to eat. it can take a long time for a server to come and ask you what you would like to drink. The Trident grill was fantastic. We didn't try out either of the Specialty restaurants on-board Entertainment: We love to gamble. The casino was great, However, we did have to wait on a few occasions for some of the tables to be opened. There were always tournaments going on at one time or another. The slots are very tight. However, I did manage to hit one Big Jackpot! Woo Hoo!!! As for the shows on-board. Well, we weren't to impressed. especially with the aerialist and the illusionist. They were pretty bad. The Motown show was like something out of a collage production. (there were only a couple of cast members that could really sing) Wished we had a chance to see the British Invasion. I had heard great things about that. Glacier Bay was Beautiful! What an amazing site. It was very cold and of course it was raining. But we were prepared once again. We actually went to the top of the ship and enjoyed the sites from under the radar installation. Hint Hint... Great place to view. LOL... If you want to take pictures from out side. go to the prominade deck. it is covered. Our port of call in Ketchikan was cancelled due to rough seas. Oh well. we didn't get to go zip lining like we wanted but we went straight to Victoria B.C, Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid ... Read More
This was my second sailing on the Pearl and she was as lovely as before, with a very attentive crew. It was definitely a different type of cruise than the Carib. This cruise was more relaxed and laid back. Even the crew seemed more laid back. As usual, our every need was met and our every expectation was exceeded. This trip was with 5 dear friends that were brave enough to take me to cold weather!! Yes indeed it was cold and wet, but how could you really notice with the amazing scenery and things that we saw! To experience the Inside Passage with American Eagles flying by leaves me without words to express. The ships high standard of cleanliness was as evident as ever. Everywhere you go are crew members diligently attending to every detail. We arrived at the pier in Seattle about 12:30 and with our pre-registration in hand we sailed so quickly thru check-in I hardly remember stopping for the picture! As I've said before in my reviews, the key really is to come as early as you can. The lines are shorter and things move quickly. As the day passes and more people arrive, it will require a bit of a wait, but not a long one. Suite and above folks have a private check-in, and Latitudes members can process quickly as well. Be sure to PRE REGISTER online and that will save you some time at the counter. Our room was ready and spotless. We chose a mini-suite to be able to take in the Alaskan vistas right from our cabin. Even the lifeboat drill seemed relaxed this time, especially since the new rule of not having to tote those bulky life preservers with you! Making dinner reservations are very easy. In cruises past I could only book a day or two in advance, but this cruise allowed me to book my entire weeks worth of reservations in on shot! That is a dream when you are making dinner plans for a group of 6. Reservations were available most everywhere with the exception of Le Bistro and Teppenyaki. Those two places filled up fast. So make your selections for those early. Sometimes we had to juggle our times here and there, but the crew bends over backwards to accommodate you. I can't say enough about the food. We did the Garden Cafe for breakfast (free) and some lunches (free) but most dinners we dined at the specialty restaurants. WELL worth the added fee. Don't let those fees scare you off, it's TOTALLY worth it. I will say this, since this is an Alaskan cruise most folks won't venture out to the poolside buffet or the Grill Buffet in the back as they are outside. This fact makes the inside Garden Cafe Buffet PACKED. So plan on a bit more time to eat if you are dining there, and be patient for a table. The crew is vigilant about cleaning tables quickly and finding you a seat. Things you MUST eat: BBQ Pork Ribs, Dirty Noodles, Lamb Medallions - Lotus Garden Restaurant Escargo, and anything on the menu - Le Bistro Lobster, monster shrimp cocktail - Cagney's Chocolate Buffet - Watch your FreeStyle Daily The spa prices are pricey as always. But watch your Freestyle Daily for specials. Also physically GO to the spa and talk to the spa crew. They will work special combo deals for you that are listed on the menu of services. Best Spa Deals: the 10/20/30 plan - 10% off first treatment, 20% of 2nd, 30% off third...combine those with bartering at the counter for a freebie. The other thing I would HIGHLY recommend is the Spa Pass. You pay a flat rate (was $119 per person for the 7 day cruise) and you have access to the mineral baths, hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam room, stone therapy lounges, cold plunge and the private locker area for the entire cruise. You also have access to the very restful lounge area that sits at the very FRONT of the ship with full glass panoramic views out the bow. Likely my only complaint this cruise was that there was some paint peeling in the hydrotherapy pool. The entertainment was fun, but I sure miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company. It seems the Pearl is handling it's own "stage show" performances now and they simply don't have the edge that the JARCo did. This is not to say its a bad show...it was enjoyable, but just not the Vegas quality that I've enjoyed in the past. SharkBait Duo was outstanding! The Bliss Ultra Lounge is amazing, be sure to see it. Not to mention you can go bowling ($5 per person, per game). I have to say I'm not thrilled now that the Spinnaker Lounge is "family" til all hours now. Before underage kids were allowed til 10pm then asked to leave the club to the adults. Now they are allowed until closing at midnight. From there the party would move to Bliss until their closing at 2am. However, since the Spinnaker is at the front of the ship and the Bliss is at the back, most folks seem to simply call it a night and find their cabins. Watch your Freestyle Daily for specials in the Duty Free Shop. Great deals on liquor on certain days, plus free tastings! Always, always, ALWAYS mention you are a Latitudes member and get an additional 10-20% off anything you purchase in the shopping area. Just cuz it says Latitudes on your card, doesn't mean you'll get the discount. So ASK for it! Most favorite crew members: Annalissa in the Lotus Garden and Gede in the Java City Cafe (ask to see the 7 ball juggling act). Another all time favorite is Carlos the Concierge. Even though we weren't in suites, he always took the time to say hello. The highlight had to be the cruise of Glacier Bay National Park. The captain gave us plenty of time on both sides of the ship to view the Glaciers. We saw otters, seals, porpoises and WHALES! We even saw a large chunk of glacier fall into the bay with a thunderous crash!! One thing we did this cruise that I've never done before was to take advantage of the BAGS program. It is AWESOME! You pay $20 per person to enroll in BAGS. The night before, just like everyone else you put your luggage outside your cabin. Now, in the morning as you are leaving, everyone else will have to wait their turn in line to get off the ship, go wait in line at customs, and fetch their luggage. Then drag them to a cab, drag them to check-in at the airport ,and FINALLY your hours as a pack mule are over! BUT if you enrolled in BAGS you can get off the ship anytime you want, walk past the customs line and right out to the taxi stand. You simply walk to your gate at the airport and get on the plane. For your $20 the BAGS folks will automatically take your luggage to the airport, check it for you, and you won't see it again until you arrive home. They will even print your boarding passes off for you, and deliver them to your cabin the night before. Well worth the $20 and made NCL's usual disembarkation day even more care free! I had been saying before this cruise that it was a "once in a lifetime" cruise for me. A "bucket list" item so to speak, as it was something I wished to experience but would never choose to do a second time. How wrong I was! I would cruise to Alaska again! The whole experience was awesome. If you want to know anything specific, I'm happy to answer questions! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was not my first cruise with NCL and not my first to Alaska, my most favorite destination. But it was my first cruise with mobility issues. Several months before the cruise, arthritis started in my left knee and then on to my right ... Read More
This was not my first cruise with NCL and not my first to Alaska, my most favorite destination. But it was my first cruise with mobility issues. Several months before the cruise, arthritis started in my left knee and then on to my right knee. Never had this much trouble with arthritis before, but this time it came with a vengeance. Got a shot of Cortisone in the left knee prior to the cruise, but I thought the right knee was due to favoring it too much, so I didn't get a shot for that knee. So I knew I was going to have problems getting around mostly because of the right knee. With this, the thought of a getting a week's pass for the thermal suite on the ship was sounding really good but I wondered if we could board early enough to get a couple of those coveted passes. Luckily, I had my cane with me because both knees were wobbly and when they announced that people with mobility problems could board first, I grabbed my sister EL and daughter AD and we headed for the ship. We were the first group of people to board and the first thing we did was sign up for the thermal suite! Our "girls" cruise was off to a good start. We had our first lunch at the Summer Palace by the large window with a glorious view of the Seattle skyline in front of us on a lovely, Sunday morning. Couldn't ask for anything better. By the time we finished our lunch our cabin was ready. Our balcony cabin seemed smaller than I remember, but then the last cabin we had was a mini-suite, so in comparison, the space seemed very small. And with a third person in the room, it seemed even smaller. But we found plenty of storage and closet space. Then it was time for the emergency drill. I was afraid about standing for a long time during the drill because of my bad knees. But it was different this time, we didn't have to put on our life jackets and our drill station was at the Summer Palace. That was way too easy but what a relief. We relaxed for a while and then stepped out on our balcony as the ship left the pier. We had our first dinner at Le Bistro. It's half-price on the first night of the cruise. We then saw the "Oh What a Night" Frankie Valley tribute show which was very entertaining. After that we decided to go to bed early so that we could try out the thermal suite first thing in the morning. The thermal suite was wonderful. It's definitely well worth the extra $99 for an opportunity to just relax and pamper oneself. However, for short people take caution entering the large thermal pool. Your feet won't touch the bottom and the bubbling current can easily make it seem like your in the rapids with your body bobbing around like a cork. Hold on to a bar and don't let go! Plus - there are two personal whirlpool baths but unfortunately one was out of order. But there were so few people there it didn't take very long for it to be available again. Now going back to the fact that my knees were in bad shape, this is what I experienced for the first time as someone with mobility problems. The Summer Palace entrance is on the 7th floor and you have to go down the stairs to the 6th floor to the dining hall. Anyone having trouble with stairs can take the elevator that goes down to the 6th floor and only one of 4 elevators in front of the Summer Palace goes there. Once you're down on the 6th floor, there is no access to the rest of the ship other than by that one elevator or the stairs. When we got down to the 7th floor for dinner at the Summer Palace, I stood there in front of the elevator that goes down to the 6th floor while EL and AD checked in for a table. I waited forever, but no 6th floor elevator arrived. Since EL and AD were already below waiting for me, I decided to try the stairs. I made it down, but almost lost my balance on the way down. Then after dinner, I waited at the 6th floor elevator, this time with EL and AD. No elevator arrived. There was another lady with a cane also waiting. The elevator never came. So we all made our way up the stairs, which was painful for me but even more painful for the other lady. By the time we made it up to the 7th floor, the gal at the restaurant registration desk said, "Sorry that you had to walk up the stairs, the elevator's not working." These things happen I suppose - but why weren't we informed before going down to the 6th floor? Why wasn't there a sign saying the elevator was out of order? Why did they allow us to go downstairs to the dining hall without a word of warning about a broken elevator? It was a puzzle. I wondered what might have happened for someone in a wheelchair. Perhaps they were informed, but I guess they thought people with canes could handle the stairs just fine. It could be there was another elevator that could be used, but no one bothered to tell us. We reserved tickets to see the Lumberjack show at Ketchikan. Our ship was closer to where the show was located the first time I was in Ketchikan but this time it was much further away. I asked someone at the excursion desk if there was a shuttle that would take us to the show. I was told that when I got to the meeting place outside of the ship they would have a shuttle there for folks with mobility problems. We got off the ship early and I asked about the shuttle and the person guiding people to where the show was didn't know what we were talking about. So she called the excursion desk and she was told the show would have a taxi take us there at their expense. Good. However, when the show was over, there were no arrangements made to pick us up after the show. So we walked slowly back to the ship. It was uncomfortable, but I made it. So, back on the ship we had lunch and I soaked my achy knees in one of the thermal suite's personal whirlpool bath. Ahhh.... I would suggest to anyone having trouble getting around, don't be afraid to tell crewmembers that you'll need special accommodations for boarding or de-boarding. Being new at this, I wasn't proactive and I paid dearly for it. In previous cruises with NCL, disembarking was always so smooth and usually didn't take very long at all. The only time it took longer was in New York, which is a very busy port. I didn't realize Vancouver is also a very busy port and we stood in line forever going through customs and then it was another lengthy wait just to get in a taxi. I could have kicked myself when I saw a row of people in wheelchairs being wheeled directly to where they needed to go. So don't be proud, ask for assistance. My poor knees ached for days after waiting in all those long lines. All in all, it was another great Alaskan cruise and I intend to get my knees replaced before taking another trip. P.S. - Another suggestion -- Try the chicken wings at the Blue Lagoon. I've never seen so many peopleat one time chomping on wings. Chicken bones were flying everywhere! There hot like they just came out of the fryer! They're super-crispy on the outside and juicy and tender inside. They're delicious and you can get them hot or mild. If you get it mild, you can just dip the wings in as much hot sauce as you want rather than having the wings smothered in sauce. It's not as messy to eat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
About Us: Middle aged couple, well traveled. Second cruise together. First time to Alaska. The itinerary: Chose to go out of Vancouver to lessen the chances of seasickness, to which I am prone. Also liked the itinerary including long ... Read More
About Us: Middle aged couple, well traveled. Second cruise together. First time to Alaska. The itinerary: Chose to go out of Vancouver to lessen the chances of seasickness, to which I am prone. Also liked the itinerary including long port days that didn't start early in the morning. This was a vacation and we wanted to sleep in! Our ports were Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau, along with sailing through Glacier Bay. We were supposed to sail Tracey Arm, but because of either tides or ice (not sure which) we were unable to do that. Vancouver: Loved Vancouver as much as I had the last time I visited 18 years ago. We added three nights at the beginning which I highly recommend. Got Hyatt Regency on a Priceline bid for $80 per night and couldn't have been happier with the hotel or the location. (There are websites that help with Priceline bidding strategy -- takes the fear and guesswork out of using Priceline.) We spent one day biking Stanley Park, walking the seawall and wandering the city and the other day at Granville Island Market where we managed to eat both breakfast and lunch. It helped that the weather was PERFECT. Denman Street in the West End (walking distance from anywhere downtown) is a great street for finding reasonably-priced ethnic restaurants for dinner. We loved the Legendary Noodle for Chinese food that is similar to Islamic Chinese food one would find in China. Why the Volendam: It offered the itinerary we wanted and the Wednesday departure worked well for us. It was the only ship departing on Wednesday making embarkation a breeze. Also, because of its odd departure day, we were the only ship in one port and only had one or two other ships in the other ports. This allowed us to be more spontaneous about what we could do in port. If we had wanted to book last-minute excursions they would have been available to us. The size ship was appealing -- large enough to have many offerings and dining alternatives, but not one of the mega-ships. Also, we had been told that it was a good ship for Alaska because of all the outside viewing areas. This was true. There were plenty of places to be and no place was ever crowded outside. The Crow's Nest -- an indoor place on the highest deck with floor to ceiling windows -- was the only place that was ever crowded. I would have said that this was not a great ship to bring children, but a recent review indicated that school age kids had a blast with Club HAL. There were very few children on our sailing. Most passengers were middle aged or senor couples, or women traveling together, with a few young couples and multi-generational families. About half were Americans with most others from Canada, Australia or the UK. This was not a party ship. We also wanted a balcony cabin and were booking only two weeks in advance and got a decent deal. And we wanted an itinerary that included Glacier Bay. Embarkation: 20 minutes from arrival at the terminal to walking on to the ship. Arrived around 12:30 with plenty of time to eat lunch and wander the ship. The Ship: Some reviews have said the Volendam is "worn" and "dated." I did not find this to be the case. I did not see any sign of wear or carpet stains or anything of that nature. On the contrary, there was constant cleaning and painting and an emphasis on sanitation. Hand sanitizers are everywhere. The ship dEcor is very nice and there are many different public areas. Going to Alaska having a deck with a retractable roof is a must and the Lido deck is very nice. We were so lucky with weather, but the deck remained comfortable when it was cold outside and the roof was closed, and was delightful when it was partially or fully opened on sunny, warm days. The Library is amazing -- one of the nicest areas on the ship. There is a HUGE selection of books, including recent best sellers, along with games and puzzles and just a lovely environment. We chose not to sign up for internet use. Accommodations: We were in Verandah balcony "suite" 7073 on the Navigation Deck. It wasn't really a suite, but slightly larger than a regular stateroom with a tub in the bathroom. It was very comfortable, well-designed, plenty of storage, extremely comfortable bed and linens and with a lovely glass enclosed balcony. The location of our stateroom (which we had taken on a guarantee basis, didn't select the actual stateroom) meant the balcony was covered. The big question: Should one have a balcony in Alaska? I would say "maybe" and my husband would say "yes." The larger stateroom, being able to open the door for fresh air and the floor to ceiling view may have been more important to me than using the actual balcony itself. My husband did sit out on it and read, but I tended to be on deck more. We were lucky with the weather and could do our scenery-viewing from any deck. If there had been rain it would have been nice to have the covered area. My summation: If you can afford it, or get a deal on a balcony room that isn't much more than another room, go for it. If you can't, you can live without it. Some of the time it's too cold and windy to be on the balcony anyway. We would have been happy with the location of any of the balcony staterooms. In fact, we probably would have been happy with any outside cabin except the ones on the lower promenade deck with obstructed views that overlook where people are walking the deck. I visited an outside cabin on the dolphin deck (lowest) and that stateroom was just fine with a lovely view out of large windows. Smoking: I was very concerned after reading negative reviews about smoking on the ship since I am extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke. I am glad to report that smokers were mostly relegated to the casino and one small area on one side of the deck outside the Lido buffet. When I made the mistake of going outside that direction it did bother me, and walking by the casino was pretty disgusting, but I did not smell the smoke anywhere else. Even though smoking is allowed in staterooms I could not smell any from my room or balcony. However, twice when walking the lower promenade circuit (3.5 laps to a mile) there was a man outside smoking a cigar. Yuck. I don't know if that was permitted or not, but other than the momentary stench as I passed it didn't bother me further. Room Steward: Ours was quiet, unobtrusive and just fine. We received the little card to indicate what kind of fruit basket we wanted and when we wanted more fruit we filled out another card. We didn't have too many requests. The room was always cleaned very nicely. No complaints. Cell phones and Blackberry: I did not have international service, so I only used my cell phone and Blackberry when we were in US ports. My AT&T service worked just fine. It was a pleasure to have these devices off while in Canada and at sea. My husband has Verizon service and did get international service so he could use phone and Blackberry in Canada as well. Food/Dining: The food was better than I expected, considering they were serving 2000 passengers and staff for each meal. We had Anytime dining which worked great for us. Since there are so many questions about this I will go into detail. We reserved the Pinnacle Grill in advance for the last night -- the night of the Master Chefs Dinner -- because I had read on Cruise Critic about how bad this dinner is. We reserved through the HAL 800 number in advance, but could have done it on board. The food in Pinnacle Grill was slightly better than the dining room and the service was very attentive. For us, it was nice to "mix it up" for dinners and we enjoyed eating there one night and didn't mind the $20 pp surcharge. We really enjoyed the cook-out on deck the first night, enhanced because we had ideal weather. We checked the dining room menu each day to help decide what to do that evening. Three nights we ate in the dining room (including one formal night) and the food was for the most part quite good. We either called before 4 p.m. and made a reservation or showed up and were told to return in 15 to 30 minutes for a table. This was because we only wanted tables for 2. If we had been willing to share, I think we would have been accommodated at any time. The portions are not large so we tended to order several courses. The chilled soups were particularly good. On one formal night we didn't want to dress up, so we ordered from the dining room menu for room service and that worked out fine. One night we ate dinner in Canaletto, which is the Italian restaurant that is part of the Lido buffet area, but requires reservation and has waiter service and tablecloths. They were having a "soft opening" on this ship, expecting to go into full service over the next few months. It was a very nice meal with good service at no extra charge. For Anytime dining the waiter service was nothing special. I'm sure those who have the same waiter each night get better service, but it was fine. The Lido Buffet at night has some of the selections from the dining room menu. A few nights I picked up a snack at the Lido to carry me over until eating in the dining room about 8 p.m. The Lido buffet dinners looked fine, but dinner there was not so appetizing to us, given all the other choices. We had lunch in the Lido or outside at the Terrace Grill every day. I had fresh-baked cookies and/or (usually and) ice cream every afternoon. Ice cream is set up from about 11 to 5 every day with cones, cups and toppings. Yum. They also have out a selection of cobbler or bread pudding all of which were really good -- especially the various types of bread pudding. The lunches were satisfactory -- nothing special, other than these great desserts. The day they had a salmon bake on deck was exceptional. I can only guess they had picked up salmon in Alaska as it was some of the best salmon I had ever tasted. We never ate at the late-night buffet. I did go to the Indonesian high tea and it was very nice. If we were up early enough (only happened twice) we ate breakfast in the dining room, which was excellent. The other mornings we ate from the buffet at Lido that was open until 10:30. The omelet station was the only place I ever had to wait. Really good omelets. The pancakes were really good, but better in the dining room where they were fresher. The daily special pancake, e.g., mango or banana, was particularly good each day. Lox readily available at the buffet or dining room. Alaska is not the place for tropical fruits. By the end of the cruise they had resorted to serving frozen blueberries. Apples, pears and bananas were readily available. Wine: I don't drink, but my husband did bring two bottles on board that we purchased in Vancouver. He had a sweet wine for late evening in our room and one bottle of white wine to have with an appetizer picked up from the Lido buffet before dinner. One night he did bring wine in a glass from the cabin to the dining room and no one cared. The house wines were not as expensive as we had expected (about $5 per glass) and wine is quite expensive in Vancouver (taxes, I think) so bringing some of our own wine did not save that much money anyway. Water: the ship's drinking water was just fine and iced tea, hot tea and coffee are also free. However, I purchased a 12-pack of bottled water at the 7-11 in Vancouver for $4.99 and liked having it on the ship for my personal use since I'm not a soda or wine drinker and prefer bottled water. I also brought the bottles to port visits. The 12-pack was just right for us for 7 days. Glacier Bay: The scenery throughout the Inside Passage was lovely. Glacier Bay was the only really cold and overcast day, so the glaciers didn't shine the way they would have on a sunny day. However, we bundled up and really enjoyed seeing them in their splendor. It was a really fun day sailing through Glacier Bay. They served hot pea soup on deck mid-morning that was a nice touch. We watched from a combination of places including our balcony, the bow of the ship, the crow's nest, aft deck and all over. The captain spun the ship around at each glacier so you could see them from anywhere. Shore Excursions and Alaska Toursaver Coupon book: We didn't want to be tied down, so we didn't book anything with HAL. Many of the excursions that sounded great would have been ruined if the weather had been bad. Also, we knew there were few ships in ports we were visiting on those days so we could make last minute choices if we wanted. I did some research and called around and took contact information with me in case we wanted to do any adventure trips. I did want to book the helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier, but didn't want to spend $279 each. From my research I knew Temsco was in the coupon book, but there are only so many seats at that price. In retrospect I should have realized that since they don't do HAL's flights and no other ships were docked in the late afternoon that it would be relatively easy to reserve. But I didn't want to order the book, wait for it to arrive, get the code and then make my reservation -- and maybe the toursaver seats were no longer available. So, I followed advice I had read on the internet and googled Alaska Toursaver and Craigslist and found three postings. I wrote to each and heard back from two. I bought through PayPal from someone who appeared reputable from our correspondence and was willing to give me the code as soon as I paid. I paid him $55 plus shipping, which was significantly less than the $99 plus shipping I would have paid to buy it new -- but the best part was that I got the code right away and was able to reserve the helicopter trip! The downside was that the flight plane to Misty Fjord, the other coupon we would have considered using, had been used -- but we knew that when we purchased it. Bottom Line: If you are really going to do one or more of the trips featured in the coupon book it is worth it -- IF you know you can get reservations. If it's early enough in the season you are probably safe. We booked our trip only two weeks before sailing, so it took a bit more research. And if you are going mid to late season with a bit of work you can probably find them for sale on the secondary market like I did. Juneau: We were in Juneau from 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. which was ideal since we didn't have to get up early and could enjoy time on the ship that day. This was the day we couldn't sail Tracey Arm. The ship offers an excursion where 150 passengers can board a catamaran at about 9:30 a.m. for 5 hours through Tracey Arm. We talked to people who did it and raved about it -- they got really close to glaciers, heard calving, etc. It's $199 which was more than we wanted to spend and I didn't want to be cooped up on a catamaran for 5 hours. But it does sound like it's worthwhile to consider. Juneau was our splurge. We decided to do the TEMSCO helicopter to land on a glacier. We booked in advance using Alaska Toursaver coupon, so it was $279 for two of us. This is the cheapest of the glacier/helicopter flights -- no trek, just a walkabout. It was fantastic. Can't say enough about TEMSCO. They were wonderful. We were the last flight of the day and HAL doesn't use them and no other ships were in port at that time of day, so there wasn't a crowd. The van driver had plenty of time so took us the long way around so we could see the glacier from the car at the visitor center. My only criticism is that our flight was 5 p.m., but we were signed up for 3:45 p.m. pick up next to the cruise ship. That's a lot of extra time that wasn't needed when they aren't crowded. The pilot was wonderful and this was a really special adventure -- highly recommended. People we spoke to who did whale watching in Juneau also really enjoyed it. Again, the fact that we had blue skies in the 70's really made it a great day. But it was colder than we expected on the glacier. They had said to expect 15 degrees colder than in Juneau, so we didn't wear as many layers as we should. It felt colder than that and it was quite windy. Hint: Bring extra layers, hat and gloves if you do this, regardless of the weather in Juneau. Skagway: We had really thought about doing the train, but I had heard that if the weather's lousy you can't see much, so didn't want to book in advance. Again, with some research determined that we were the only ship in port and it would be no problem to buy last-minute tickets on the 1245 train. We reserved a car thru Avis in advance just in case (also didn't need to because only ship in port; with many ships they could run out of cars) and had downloaded Murray's guide as recommended on Cruise Critic. The day was very foggy so we went with the car ($90) instead of the train ($120 each). We made the right decision because we had fog the entire way that the highway parallels the train. It wasn't until we got over the pass, which is further than the 3.5 hour train ride goes, that we had beautiful clear weather. It was fun driving thru the Yukon and we stopped a few places mentioned in Murray's guide. We had taken rolls, cheese and fruit from breakfast (always bring zip lock bags!) and picnicked at Carcross overlooking the beach. We drove as far as Emerald Lake and then came back via the Skagway cemetery. I do recommend a stop at the cemetery, including the short walk to the waterfalls. The whole drive took just over 5 hours, we filled with gas for about $20 and returned the car and went back to the ship. A lovely day. If we had more energy we would have done horseback riding or a hike at Yukon Horses near Emerald Lake. You can google it and book on your own. Others have recommended it highly. BTW, had to pay $2 to use the rest room at one of the restaurants along the drive since I wasn't a customer. Worth every penny. Ketchikan: Beautiful day, really lovely town. Would have been a great day for kayaking, but we just felt like wandering the town. Went to Creek Street and then back to ship area and turned left and walked to the residential area and up and down some of the steep steps. Really nice views and very interesting to see how people live. I would have liked to walk in the rainforest, but from the map it appeared you have to walk all the way around to get to it. If there's a next time, I'll ask at the visitor center just how far to get to the rainforest walk. Shopping: Bought nothing in ports or on ship. Clothing: Since so many people ask about it, I'll give my two cents. I followed advice and brought many layers which worked out perfectly. Did wear my LL Bean rain jacket/windbreaker even though we had beautiful weather. I wore a sleeveless fleece a lot, over a long sleeved shirt, then a zip up fleece over it. Liked having the hood on my zip up fleece. I did wear my long johns and wool socks on the Glacier Bay sea day since we were outside a lot and it was quite cold and windy. Added layers. Also wore gloves that day. On the warm sea days (did I mention we were REALLY lucky with weather?) wore shorts/capris and t-shirt. Even laid by the pool in a bathing suit! Used shorts and t-shirts for fitness center. For formal night(s) I brought one black skirt (that doesn't wrinkle) with a black nylon top and a lightweight shawl/sweaters to dress it up. Worked just fine for the one formal night we ate in the dining room. Dressed casually the rest of the time. Seasickness: I am extremely prone, so I took ½ Meclezine (Bonine) 3 times a day whether I needed it or not, staring the day before sailing and even on port days. I also wore acupressure bands on my wrists and took ginger pills several times a day. We only had one evening of rocking when I felt a bit nauseated and I ate lots of dried ginger during that time. The rest of the time I hardly felt the ship move. If there had been severe movement I would have been sick even with those precautions -- that's the risk of a cruise, even to the relatively calm Inside Passage. Thermal Suite: I had read about the thermal suite in the fitness center and was intrigued enough to go to the open house on embarkation day. It is a separate, controlled area off the fitness center with a whirpool, two steam rooms and heated ceramic lounges. I am always cold, so this was a treat for me. It's $99 for one person or $150 for a couple. My husband wasn't interested, so I asked everyone at the open house if someone wanted to share the cost and someone did. So, I put it on my tab and she paid me $75 cash. It worked out great. I did use it every day and probably would have used it more if it had been really cold and I wanted to warm up. I was sometimes the only person there! The heated ceramic lounge was so relaxing. I would stretch or work out, then do steam and whirlpool, then read on the heated lounge almost every day before dinner. It is expensive, though -- even splitting the cost. Onboard activities: There were some quality activities, but we didn't do much. The Culinary Center is very nice and I attended one food demonstration with the Executive chef that was really worthwhile. There is a computer center with classes, but my husband said it was too elementary for him. Others seemed to really enjoy the computer classes. The Pilates class was good but $12 for 20-30 minute class was too expensive. I did do a free aerobics class one day. My husband went to one ranger talk and was disappointed, although the ranger commentary in Glacier Bay was good. I walked the promenade every day and read some books. On the last sea day there was a Susan G. Komen On Deck for the Cure 5k walk. This was great and attended by 90 walkers who paid $15 each as a donation to breast cancer research. They asked breast cancer survivors to "break the ribbon" to start the walk. I really enjoyed this and it included a free t-shirt. Walking 5k was a breeze and I wish I would have done that sooner! There was bingo and lots of talks about shopping in which we did not participate. And I really don't understand who buys the art at all the art auctions. Entertainment: Not a strong suit. Most of the lounge music was not very good, or at least not to our liking. Others seemed to enjoy the piano bar. The string quartet sounded like good amateurs. We didn't see any of the regular shows, but really enjoyed the juggler, Benjy Hill. He was fantastic. The magician, Joseph Tran, was worth watching. We ate at 8 p.m. so there wasn't a lot of time for evening entertainment anyway. We usually took a walk on deck at night. Leaving the ship: We didn't purchase transfers as it was more expensive than taking a cab. We also wanted to leave as late as possible since our flight was at 1:15 p.m. We signed up to disembark between 9-9:30 a.m., having left our luggage outside the night before. The train to the airport was so convenient and cheap that we walked 5 minutes from the terminal and were at the airport in 30 minutes. (Note: it's cheaper to take the train from downtown to the Airport; there is a surcharge from the airport.) Breakfast the final morning was the only unappetizing meal we had the whole week. Summary: I had no complaints. The ship was great, we saw beautiful scenery, ate good, plentiful and varied food and had an extremely relaxing vacation. I would not hesitate to recommend the ship or the itinerary. Keep in mind that different cruise lines have different strengths. Those looking for a party atmosphere, for example, would probably not have been happy. I'm very glad to have seen Alaska this way. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was the most wonderful relaxing vacation we have taken to date. This was the 1st ship out and we were the only ship at all the ports we went to until our last stop in Victoria. We flew into SEA and took Amtrak to Vancouver. It was a ... Read More
This was the most wonderful relaxing vacation we have taken to date. This was the 1st ship out and we were the only ship at all the ports we went to until our last stop in Victoria. We flew into SEA and took Amtrak to Vancouver. It was a long trip, and disembarking off the train took a long time as it was full and we had to wait for customs. But, I would do it again, it was nice. We stayed in the Ramada limited in Vancouver, just a few blocks from Canada Place. This was a small, nice hotel with very good service. We were on the street side, and it was loud all night from the people in the streets. I would ask for a different part of the hotel next time. We intended to do more in Vancouver. But, were content with just walking around our part of town and checking things out. We went to China town and had dim sum,then went to Canada Place and checked things out. The next morning...we walked around some more...then took a cab to the pier around 12. The porters took our luggage right off the cab and we were in line. It took about 30-45 min. to get through security, then customs, then check in. We did not get rained on at all...the weather was perfecto. We are two women in our forties, and our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We were on the Pearl her first year in 2007. We chose her again because we love the spa. We loved our balcony room, and would never want anything less on the Alaska cruise. There is always something to be looking at or for. We like to get the spa pass and relax in there everyday as we watch Alaska go by....ahhhhhhhh. I think the Pearl has one of the best spas on the water. We had the best cruise critic group, ever. We ended up having a very large gathering...probably 60 people. Then a cabin crawl and a poker run. It was great, as we had just about every category cabin to view. The one thing that we did that was truly amazing that was not a port was we cruised Tracys Arm. This was the best day of the whole cruise. I felt I was going to miss Glacier bay....but I was not disappointed....AWESOME We do not do much with the activities. Went to one comedy show...it was OK. I went to the Quest and had fun with some fellow cruisers. I did make it to the chocolate buffet for the 1st time and it was pretty tasty. Other then that....we pretty much cruise for the sights, spa and food. About the food.....we enjoyed the buffet, both the main dining rooms and Lotus Garden. We were not crazy about the food in Cagneys or Blue Lagoon. For the most part....the food was very salty in all the restaurants. But, we did find things we enjoyed. The service was awesome....everywhere. We did get a room that was smoked in previously. It was very bad...even in the bathroom and the closet. Our stewards and their boss handled this as well as expected. They removed everything from the room....curtains, couch covers...all the pillows, and cleaned the carpet. Unfortunately they could not move us to another room as the ship was full. It was so bad, I could not stay in the room the 1st night. I spent the night hanging out around the ship, and met some very interesting people. They brought in an ionizer for 4 days, as well. The smell was pretty well gone after a couple days. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were the 4th group to be called, and we walked right off. Our luggage was right there and we grabbed a cab. We went to the car rental place in Seattle and took off for Whistler for another week. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations ... Read More
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations we had been led to believe were the standard that HAL claims to set.Embarkation went very smoothly compared to the two other cruises we have done. Check in was a breeze! We were immediately directed to the LaFontaine dining room for a liesurely lunch awaiting our cabin to be ready. When we entered our cabin, we did find it to be lovely and roomy, beautiful verandah. Our bags were waiting on the bed. We quickly unpacked and set about to explore the ship. We visited the Sea View & Crow's Nest bars,the Spa & workout facilities as my husband wanted to keep exercising on the cruise. I wanted to check out the hands-on culinary opportunities. The party planner greeting people interested in learning more about that was cold and unfriendly. I opted NOT to sign up for any of those events, and I had really looked forward to them! We opted for room service for coffee and juice for the following morning.A grilled dinner was served on the Lido deck as we set sail. Food was fair, Lido area very crowded. (We never did try the Lido pool or hot tubs. Always full of noisy jumping splashing kids and babies) .We caught the end of the comic's show and off to bed.First day was ok. The only day my husband worked out as he was unimpressed with the workout facilities. Lines for the treadmills and elipticals was discouraging.The next night was the first formal night, and the only one we participated in. They were very accomodating in getting my husband fitted and delivered of a tuxedo the same day! We hoped for & expected great things,but it was not forthcoming. We had opted for open seating, & waited some time with a pager. Once seated, we  had to wait to place our order. One of the guests at our table had to ask for the wine steward twice, and I think he was the only one taking care of 500+ diners, and not very good at it. Once the food was served, it was disappointing, and we waited 20 to 30 minutes between courses, and that was once we had finished eating them. We witnessed a 10 minute tantrum by a mad & unhappy drunk  passenger who was unaware it was formal night and mad he did not meet dress code and could not eat. He never should have been allowed in the dining room. Most people at our table ordered the Alaskan King Crab, which took forever!!! Our server said they "ran out of crab". It arrived in and inch of lukewarm water, no drawn butter or lemon!! Three people sent their's back & got something else, which took forever as well.One of the perks was having personal concierge service on our floor, and we took advantage to book our Juneau & other excursions. Whale watching was fun. Not many whales, but lots of bald eagles and sea lions, and our naturalist was friendly and informative. Our next stop was the Mendenhall glacier, the perfect warmup for the Hubbard glacier. Juneau was beautiful. We picked the Lido buffet for dinner & were not impressed. For health reasons, you could not serve yourself most things, and the staff was slow slow slow!!! Soup had "skin" on top!The next day was my husband's birthday. We had a good roomservice breakfast. He played in the Casino and I relaxed. He again opted for the buffet for lunch, limited selection, bland & uninspired. We ran into the two couples we met at first day lunch, and invited them to join us for champagne on our verandah to witness the spectacular Hubbard glacier. They were all full of stories already of lackluster service & argumentative staff. One couple shared that their bags were not put in their room, but sitting in the hallway. They had just that morning met their steward for the first time!! This was day 3!! Our assistant steward was apparently their dining room waiter one evening, and while pleasant & trying, was obviously inexperienced and inept at serving. It became apparent that the staff are expected to wear too many hats, are not effectively trained. We heard of several people who when they needed something or had an issue, were argued with by staff!! But I digress!! I had arranged a celebration package a few weeks before, which included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. Our server was congenial and tried, but was obviously inexperienced at what was supposed to be fine dining service. The food was good, but not superior. We then went to the Crow's Nest, where we had been very well taken care of by Gani and Leo. As we walked in the door, Gani immediately began to prepare our favorite cocktails. THIS was the service we heard was standard on HAL, but it was the only place we ever really got it! The next day my husband had booked fishing in Sitka, which he really enjoyed. I opted to pamper myself with a spa day.I chose a massage and facial. The massage was good, but expensive, and their opportunity to push expensive spa products. The facial was ok. Relaxing. But the facial product line was hugely expensive, and one I have never heard of. My esthetician was obviously disappointed that I did not want to spend her recommended $300.00 on my face, after the cost of the facial!! I had a coupon they had delivered to our cabin for 30% off any spa treatment. The manager seemed aloof and none too happy that I wanted to apply it to my most expensive service. We opted for room service for dinner, the salmon. Adequate but I expected better being in Alaska.Ketchikan was our best port day by far. We booked the Rainforest Canopy Zipline, and I highly recommend it. Stunning views, the adrenalin rush, fun people. We found it the best for souvenir shopping. We also had to do some drugstore shopping as the shipboard sundries store was tiny, cramped, and poorly stocked. Our dining experiences ranged from awful to good. Silverware was usually hard to come by, no matter where you ate. My husband waited 30 minutes for oil & vinegar for his salad at lunch, (yes the buffet again.) We would ask for simple things like toothpicks, or silverware, and the person we asked would just disappear.The Terrace Grill was horrible. Soupy & or dried out taco fillings, unfresh toppings, soggy shells & chips. Turkey burger looked like mystery meat, & was chewy & cold.  Breakfast room service was good, snacks not so much. Got our orders wrong twice in one night. No crackers with the cheese & cracker plate. Ordered 2 apple tarts, got 2 chocolate cakes instead.My husband and many others we talked to were not happy with the casino. He saw many people spend a lot of money early on, but no one won much at all. By the last half of the cruise, it was virtually empty. We had issues with our toilet for one day, but that "funky" smell lingered thru the rest of the cruise. We did not go into Victoria. It was a very short port call, and my husband was tired and not feeling well. I convinced him to eat in the dining room, and it was the best dining room experience we had. We realxed in our room, packed, and chilled on the verandah for our last night aboard ship.As Verandah Suite passengers, we were told we could disembark anytime between 8 and 9:30am. We ordered room service breakfast for 8am. At 8:30 we got the bum's rush from our steward saying we needed to get off the ship sooner! We hurried through breakfast, grabbed our carryons and got off the ship. We loved seeing Alaska & Seattle. And we chose cruising for the opportunity to see several places, and for the most popular reasons, service, pampering, and stellar food. Our HAL experience was sketchy at best. Inconsistent and haphazard. When it was good, it was very good, but when it was bad, it was awful!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My first cruise was on Carnival to Mexico 10 years ago. We switched to Celebrity because we heard it had more upscale food and better attitude of the staff. When I boarded I noticed immediately a difference in the staff on Celebrity ... Read More
My first cruise was on Carnival to Mexico 10 years ago. We switched to Celebrity because we heard it had more upscale food and better attitude of the staff. When I boarded I noticed immediately a difference in the staff on Celebrity compared to Carnival. Everyone always said hello to you and if you looked lost they would stop to give you directions. I constantly felt catered tomeaning almost all crew members would always ask if I wanted a drink, how was my cruise, anything they can do to make it better before the cruise ends. I mean these people were always smiling and aiming to please. I was impressed it was much better than Carnival's staff.The median age was 40 years old or older going to Alaska. Unlike Carnival to Mexico it was a older crowd. Also, there were tons of Asian people on the boat atleast 30%.  I was disappointed that their really wasn't any pop or rock music played in the evenings. It was very seldom and you had to stay up till midnight to hear it in the lounges. Mostly, it was either latin music, 50's to the 70's-but nothing you hear on the radio station.The music and bands were very good-it was nice to hear different music. But would have been better if I go to hear Nickleback or some band on the top 40 pop stations.I was disappointed that Celebrity did not make those cute little animal creatures out of the towels like Carnival does. Also, Carnival would have you do the cha cha line in the dinner room and they seemed more fun. Are waiter were very good but it was not a party atmosphere like Carnival is-it really catered to sophistication and the older clientel. If your in your 20-30's you want to go on Carnival for your generation of music and games.Overall, I did enjoy my cruise-one big reason is because of the Therlassopool (salt water pool) which is very therapeautic and the Persian Spa which is a combination of four different sauna rooms (1 is aromatherapysmells like mint steam, the other is a mild hot sauna, one is a really hot steam room and the other is a very hot dry sauna. They also have warm benches you sit on and they keep all the rooms dimmly lit so you are relaxed. The positive side was that the cruise only allows 50 people on board to access the persian Spa during the entire cruise. It costs $100 per person to use the saunas for 1 week. When we went there would be only one other couple in the sauna. It was nice that they limited the sales to the Persian Spa to only 50 people or it would have been miserable and crowded.I felt ripped off by the Spa when it came time for a massage. One lady said that the cost of a massage for that day was $39 so I said I would be back tomorrow to sign up. When I signed up I found out it cost $75 for a 25 minute back massage. That was so ridiculously high. When they added the gratiuty it came up to $84. I told them I wasn't going to have it done. They said my appointment was less than 30 minutes away and they couldn't cancel and give me a full refund only half my money back. So I went and had it done. If I would have waited till the last day I could have gotten a 60 minute full body massage for $99. Which would have still been high but a better deal. The massage was good but I have to warn you. They tell you to drink 2 liters or more of water when your done with your massage or you might get sick. I thought that was a load of crap. So I ignored the suggestion. The last day of the cruise I was so ill. I was running a 104 fever and this continued for a week after the cruise. I was never so sick. My doctors at first thought it was the flu but tests confirmed it wasn't...They later said it could be sinusitis...but I didn't have a runny nose. They gave me antibiotics anyways...and I felt it didn't make a dent. I was sick for 2 weeks after the cruise. I trully believe she released a lot of toxins into my body with the deep tissue massage I got. Being a Physical Therapist I have to kick myself for going against what I learned in school about massage doing that to some people. I just thought I had a better immune system...Found out I didn't.I absolutely hated the fitness instructors on board. They had quite a few detox seminars that I went to. Hoping to find out some new information. Actually, they would give you only a little information then reel you in with a sales pitch. If you signed up for a body fat analysis for $30 they would give you a nutrition plan that would help you lose weight. I bought it and was hooked up to this analysis machine that measures water wieght in your body and body fat. After the analysis the fitness instructor laid it on really thick. She stated that I was in poor health and recommended to me and my friend that we purchased $900 of Elemis Detox pills-which she stated was the best detox system in the world. I declined and she made me feel like crap because I had wasted her time and trully didn't want to be healthy.  When I got home I looked up Elemis and found you could get the same amount of pills on Ebay for $150.  Also, I found the fitness instructors to be too faced. They told everyone at the seminar to read Kevin Trudeau's book called Natural Cures they don't want you to know about. Of course, they didn't know that I had already read it and Kevin Trudeau says that anyone that believes in pedaling pills or detox pills at you is a quack. So it seemed hypocritical that they would be pushing Elemis at me. In fact all the facial products and massage products were Elemis. And of course after my massage they tried to get me to buy a $40 bottle of massage cream. It was annoying.  If your looking for health information on this cruise....skip the seminars...they are just attempts to get you to buy stuff.The Aqua spa did have healthy meals but it was like two choices and always-salmon or pasta with a little olive oil on it. You did have to fight for a chair to lay on by the indoor pool but not the outdoor pool.The food was excellent but if you like chocolate-you won't find it on this cruise line. They made a lot of cakes that looked like chocolate but they didn't taste like it-can't describe it. Also after 8:00 there was no places open for food. If you were looking for 24 hour food...your wrong. You can only get room service after 8:00. Even the bars and dance places had no food. not even pretzels for your drinks. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009

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