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Sail Date: January 2008
My wife and I traveled aboard the Celebrity Infinity round-trip to Alaska inland departing from Seattle on July 18, 2008. In summary we had a great time and the cruise was a good value for what we paid. However, this cruise was far from a ... Read More
My wife and I traveled aboard the Celebrity Infinity round-trip to Alaska inland departing from Seattle on July 18, 2008. In summary we had a great time and the cruise was a good value for what we paid. However, this cruise was far from a premium experience. Embarkation and Debarkation This was the most pleasant embarkation and debarkation experience we have ever experienced. After arriving we fed our baggage into the luggage scanner, walked to the check-in area, through the metal detectors and onto the ship almost without stopping. The holdup was of all things the photographers at the ship which held up the line. We were onboard by noon and 3 of 4 bags were at our room by 2pm. Unfortunately, our 4th bag did not show up until 6pm. We used the "carry your own" baggage option to disembark from the ship and this was effortless. Ship Condition I will be blunt, the Infinity is worn out and in need of a lot of minor renovation. The carpeting is worn and in several places it was peeling up. The railing on our stateroom balcony was really worn and generally across the ship I noticed that most if not all the stateroom railings were well worn. They need a good sanding and varnish. Rust was bountiful all over the ship including our balcony. The cushions in the Celebrity Theater were badly stained and in need of replacement. In the last three years I have been on the Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, and the Westerdam and the upkeep of this ship was poor compared to those. Stateroom Our balcony stateroom was plenty big for two passengers. I read that Infinity's rooms are smaller than other cruise lines, but it was fine for us. Aside from the worn out look, my only other room complaint was the towel situation. The towels were really crappy quality and the bath towels small. Motel 6 gives you better towels than Celebrity. They offer you robes, but these things are so cheap they reminded me of what you might to get at a doctor's office. Food and Dining The food aboard this cruise was of poor quality. While the food preparation itself was not too terribly bad, the problem appears to be with the quality of ingredients. You screw up a steak by over cooking it. On this ship the problem was the beef was of such poor quality that no level of preparation could have salvaged it. I had a New York Steak Sandwich that was tougher than a leather belt. I kept trying different beef dishes hoping that it would get better. Even the fillet mignon was not good. The beef must have been salvaged from old dairy cows as I have never had such poor quality meat. One passenger we ate lunch with summed it up as glorified Denny's cuisine dressed up to look like it came from a good restaurant. Most desserts like everything else was of poor quality. Anything with cake was made with sponge cake that is tasteless. My wife noticed the cake tended to be wet. The cookies tasted like they were made with shortening and not butter. Even the ice cream was weird. Ice cream left out for 10 minutes should melt. For some reason this ice cream did not seem to hold its shape well when left out. We had our dinners in the main Trellis dining room. We requested a table for two as we have had bad experiences being placed with other people we did not click with. In the old days it was the maitre'd that grouped people together. They did a pretty good job. Now they kind of do it randomly. At breakfast and lunch we heard horror stories from people. For example, there was a family of 6 and they were seated at a table of 8. The other 2 people seated there were outsiders. I can imagine the awkwardness of those 2 passengers. Another story was a couple who were seated at a table for 6. The other two unrelated couples were Latin and spent the time talking in Spanish and not including the non-Spanish speaking couple. We did not eat at the USS United States. However, one passenger who ate there said the food was dreadful and that the dining in the Trellis restaurant although bad, was better than the United States. Their complaint was that the food came out overcooked. Celebrity offers an optional casual dinner dining up in the seating area for the buffet. We did not eat there, but we met one couple on the last day that discovered it halfway through the cruise and gave up on the Trellis. They said the food was noticeably better. They charge a $2 gratuity charge per person which is a real bargain. The buffet was average to poor. Once again it fell into the mediocre category. For example the pizza quality was lower than what one might find from the Costco snack bar. I tried the gnocchi from the Italian station and ended up throwing it away as it tasted as if it had been sitting there for hours. The buffet breakfast wasn't bad, but they had a habit of overcooking the omelets that are made to order. They had a good waffle bar too. Room service was fine and they had a good menu. You can also order meals from the dining room during dining hours. Something very nice is you can order using your television remote. Very convenient and no language issues when you place your order. If you are a drinker and money is not an object then this is the ship for you. You cannot sit down in a lounge on this ship and not be approached by a bar waiter within a minute. If you say no they will try again 15 minutes later. Entertainment Each night there was a show in the main Celebrity Theater along with various musical acts around the ship. There was also Brent Nixon, the Alaskan Naturalist who gave presentations during the day. Entertainment was headed up by Alan King the cruise director. Alan, like all cruise director like to hear themselves talk. I thought he did a good job, but some other passengers seemed to think he talked too much. On our trip we had three dance shows, two played live by the orchestra. One was a tribute to Broadway tunes which was entertaining, another was a rock and roll show, and the third was "Celebrate the World," a tribute to the music of the world. I hate to be so critical, but I thought the shows offered aboard Holland and Princess are of better quality. These shows seemed rather aged and I think the time has come to put them out to pasture. One thing that I found distracting is they overused video projections. It might have been OK if they used modern HD video, but these projections looked like they were coming from a VHS tape. I thought it cheapened the productions. On two of the production dance shows they worked in two acrobats who did a little 5 minute show. These two were spectacular. The only thing is their acts had a "bolt on" feel to them like these shows were never intended to have them included. They were spectacular though and my assumption is the performers were probably part of the working crew. I cannot see the cruise line housing two performers who perform 10 minutes a week. I wish they did a whole show of their own. As for the other shows we saw a comedian named Jeff Nease who was the funniest comedian I have ever heard. This guy was outstanding and really stood out. He even kept the cruise toilet jokes to a minimum. Note for you comedians reading this: You can make a great joke out of telling about how many toilet flushing jokes passengers will hear on a cruise because every performer tells them. We saw another performer that was just horrible. If you hear someone calling themselves the "Magic Cat" stay away from the theater. He performed what was basically a kids birthday party card show. Card tricks don't work well unless you are up close. The few tricks he did just dragged on. We were too close and on the inside so we could not escape. The next day we asked some other passengers if they liked the show and we weren't alone. In the main Trellis dining room they have live dinner music playing on formal and informal nights. The highlight of the entertainment was Brent Nixon. He is an incredible animated naturalist that gave several presentations throughout the cruise. By the end of the cruise his shows in the Celebrity Theater were packed as word of his presentations spread. If you are politically conservative some of his points might offend you. Get over it as his shows are well worth your time. Excursions and Ports We only participated in one excursion, the Lumberjack Show in Ketchican. We live in Southern California and we have probably been Blue, Grey, and Humpback whale watching more than a dozen times in the past 10 years. Many of the excursions seemed overpriced for what we are use to back home. In Juneau once off the ship we paid $14 round trip for a narrated bus trip to Mendenhall Glacier. If you arrive into port and do not know what to do look for the booths on the dock. You can bargain with them for the higher priced excursion as they seem to fight over your business. We visited Sitka, Juneau, Ketchican, and Victoria. One thing about the ports is most of them are overcrowded as they host too many cruise ships at one time. When you arrive at ports do your shopping early to avoid the crowds. By lunch the sidewalks resemble Disneyland during the summer with wall to wall people. Sitka was nice because there was only one other ship besides us. We walked to Totem Park and watched the natives perform their crafts. On the way there, across from the now closed Alan Jackson College there is a volunteer marine center with touch tanks and a Salmon Hatchery out back. A volunteer gave us an up close tour of the hatchery and how they process the fish. Really amazing. This is free, but I suggest you put a few bucks in the donation jar. They are not aggressive on donations, but realize this organization is hanging on by the fingernails since the college closed. There is a lot to do in Juneau with lots of side tours. The Mount Roberts Tramway is nice and if you do not buy tickets on the ship you can buy them at the attraction. The tram is at the main ship dock. Finding locally made goods is tough. We found an Alaskan made wooden log mug for my son for $40 and in an out of the way knitting shop we found a handmade satchel for my daughter. Look for the pooping bear key chains to bring back to all your friends. The port gets insanely crowded when four ships and 12,000 people descend on this small town. Ketchican has a nice walking tour through town. We saw the lumberjack show and then walked the town. The lumberjack show is one of those things that is worth catching once. I think it was a little overpriced for what it was, but heck you are on vacation. Victoria is nice, but you get there so late that most everything but restaurants is closed. The walk into town takes about 20 minutes and if you don't feel like walking back you can take a bicycle carriage back for $20-$30. Forget doing Buchart Gardens unless you do the ship endorsed excursion. There just isn't enough time to do it on your own. Service Of all the cruises I have been on this one had the best service. Even though the food was not great, the service in the Trellis was perfect. Service in the buffet and for that matter everywhere else on the ship was perfect. Our stateroom attendant was pretty good too. On Princess we never saw the maiter'd, on this cruise he came by every night. I personally like the tipping system on this cruise better than others where it is automatic. The nice thing about Celebrity is the crew has to work for their tip, unlike on Princess where it is automatic and mathematically split between crew. Conclusion Even though the food was mediocre, the ship was rundown, and some of the shows were snoozers, we had a great time. We got a great deal on this trip through Sams Club where we took advantage of a special for bookings committed on memorial day. For a balcony room with fuel, taxes, and port fees, we paid only $1500 per person. Where else can two people go away for a week with food, entertainment, and visit neat places for this price. If I had paid $2000 a person then I would be a disgruntled passenger. Generally speaking, we have noticed the cruise company bean counters are shaving away at the cruise experience. Basically it is improve profit by moving toward bigger ships, cheaper food, and less included amenities. Celebrity is no different than the other product lines put out by the two large cruise companies. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
By way of introduction, my trip on the Celebrity Infinity is my 8th cruise but my first with Celebrity. Prior lines cruised include Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and a few that are no longer in existence. My last two cruises were ... Read More
By way of introduction, my trip on the Celebrity Infinity is my 8th cruise but my first with Celebrity. Prior lines cruised include Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and a few that are no longer in existence. My last two cruises were both on Carnival so most of my comparisons involve Carnival because it was so recent and to illustrate the differences between an "upscale" line (Celebrity) and a "not so upscale" line (Carnival). This itinerary was scheduled for Seattle, Inside Passage, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria, BC with a return to Seattle. At some point Celebrity ditched the Inside Passage and replaced it with a "sea day." Sadly, many folks figured "sea day" was still to be the Inside Passage as both did not involve a "port stop." We got no trip through the Inside Passage yet the Celebrity brochure books at their cruise desk still showed the Inside Passage as part of the itinerary. Maybe Celebrity didn't want to spring for the required pilot or permits?!? Regardless of the reason, this was greatly disappointing and a number of passengers (us included) said they felt a bit cheated. TRAVEL TO PORT OF EMBARKATION - Fantastic! We booked our own flight to get into Seattle the night before departure. Upon leaving the hotel on embarkation day we were fortunate to find a town car that could hold all three of us plus our luggage. The driver was awesome (Mr. Yacoub), the fare was cheaper than our cab ride the night before from Pike's Market to our hotel and he offered to take us to the airport upon our return to Seattle. EMBARKATION - This needs improvement. Two of our party were in a suite and another in an inside cabin. On other lines, all three would be allowed priority check in and embarkation but not on Celebrity. The group was split and even after inquiring to two staffers we were told that the inside cabin traveler could not have priority check in so she enjoyed ( Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This is our first Celebrity cruise, we have been on two Royal Caribbean cruises before. We live in the Northwest, so we were able to drive to Seattle to board the ship. The cruise was a stop in Ketchikan from 9am to 3pm, Cruise the Hubbard ... Read More
This is our first Celebrity cruise, we have been on two Royal Caribbean cruises before. We live in the Northwest, so we were able to drive to Seattle to board the ship. The cruise was a stop in Ketchikan from 9am to 3pm, Cruise the Hubbard Glacier, Juneau from 9am to 7pm and Victoria BC scheduled for 2pm to 8pm. The ship arrived in Seattle Friday at 8pm but we were able to check our bags and take the Hop On Hop Off buses around Seattle for free to fill the time. We did still have to wait from 5pm to 10:45 before we could get on the ship. The Celebrity workers did keep everyone informed, but got a lot of angry people who thought we would embark right at 8:30 as mentioned in the documents. I am sure the upper class boarded first, so that would have been a perk, we however were trying to go the cheapest way possible, so didn't mind the wait, especially since we had been informed of it earlier through e-mail and one letter. We had pre-registered online had a FastPass, I don't remember the exact name, but you really should do this! It takes about 1 minute to check in and get your SeaPass. We parked in the parking garage at Pier 66 and checked our luggage there. That was great! They even had a Carry on check area at the Port so that you didn't have to carry your smaller bags around Seattle. While in Seattle we went to the Pikes Market, that is worth seeing, I wish I had taken a video of the fish mongers singing and tossing huge fish back and forth. The flowers were incredible and the produce just beautiful!! Once on the ship, we had a great time exploring. Our cabin was at the front of the ship on deck 8, just under the Aqua Spa on deck 10. That was convenient to run up to the pool or there is a great cafe in the Aqua spa with healthy food, it was very good. I also stopped here for coffee or juice since the restaurant and Oceanview Cafe/buffet were at the other end of the ship. The Aqua Spa is semi enclosed and they keep it pretty warm in there. It is a nice place to lounge if the the sun isn't out. Our room was very nice, an inside cabin but we weren't in there too often. When we did go to lay down during the day, it was nice and dark. Our friends had a oceanview room on deck 2 and couldn't keep their curtains closed, she had to use a hair clip to keep from being woken up at 4:30 each morning when the sun rose. I am so glad that I read the tip to take a hanging shoe organizer, we had at least 12 pair, so the 8 pair holder came in really handy. I also read to bring a power strip. We did have two phone chargers, a camera battery charger and my curling iron, it was nice to have the strip there to plug into. The bathroom does have a hair dryer, but if you depend on yours for your hairstyle, you will want your own. Plus, you can do your hair while someone else is in the bathroom. There is no iron, although the pressing service is pretty cheap, you just have to plan ahead and send things out. In Ketchikan, we did a Zip Line excursion through Alaska Canopy Adventures, it was Awesome, to say the least!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have always wanted to do a Zipline, and this is the place to do it, in terms of safety anyway. The weather was good to us, it was cold, so wear gloves inside the gloves they give you, but it didn't rain on us. It usually does rain and they have nice rain jackets, you will want a ball cap to keep the rain off your face and thin warm layers. You can't zip the rain coats that they give you and the harness has to go over your clothes. Wear layers and take off what you don't need if it isn't too cold. They lock up the stuff you don't take, so it is safe to leave it. The harnesses are top notch, I felt very safe in the gear. There is no hiking or walking, so it isn't strenuous at all. The hardest thing is the heights. I am afraid of heights, but I know once I got a hold on myself I would be OK. Others, however in our group never quite got OK with the heights, they had fun though. The Zip line itself is wonderful, the feeling going across is exhilarating, not quite a feeling of flying, but very cool! I would love to do it again! The crew that helps you are great, they really helped the ones who were scared and were patient with everyone, also made it really fun! On the ship, don't miss the Pastries at 3pm each day in the Cova Cafe or the Tea that they have in the restaurant. It was on Wednesday on our cruise, it was so much fun! There were finger foods and sweets that we didn't have on the rest of the cruise. The brunch was wonderful, that was one morning and very worth attending. I also had a Hot Stone Massage for 50 mins for $89. I thought that was wonderful and not a bad price. It was a special on Monday or Tuesday, but I scheduled it for Wed. The Wine Pairing class is worth way more than the $10 fee. Take advantage of that too! The drink specials were great each day at $4.95. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
My DH and I have cruised a total of four times on Celebrity, three on Princess, and three on Royal Caribbean. We chose Celebrity because we love the service and the small touches that make them stand out above other cruise lines and ... Read More
My DH and I have cruised a total of four times on Celebrity, three on Princess, and three on Royal Caribbean. We chose Celebrity because we love the service and the small touches that make them stand out above other cruise lines and because they offer in-cabin babysitting at night (when our kids are sleeping). We flew into Seattle two days early. Our 35 month old DS used a Cares harness on the plane to keep him still and in his seat. We took turns holding our 15 month old DD. We did not take our carseats because we had so much luggage. We took the Downtown Airporter bus to the Sheraton Downtown. This is a very nice hotel and the location is very convenient. I booked it on priceline. From the hotel to the pier we took a ten passenger van and we took the cruise line bus back to the airport. If you can take a taxi by all means take the taxi. The cruise ship buses let you off 100 yards or more from the airport and there were not any porters to help with our luggage. On the ship, you can pay $20 a person to have the ship take care of your luggage by checking it from the ship directly to the plane but our airline (Midwest) didn't participate. In Seattle we went to the aquarium while my parents did the Underground tour. My parents enjoyed the Underground and we had fun at the aquarium. The next day we went to the zoo. The zoo was wonderful but we only saw 2/3 of it before heading to the Space Needle. We took the public bus from downtown to the zoo and then on the way back the driver let us off at the closest stop to the Space Needle. We took the monorail back downtown. We loved the location of our cabin - midship on deck 7 so a short walk up or down the steps to wherever we wanted to go. Our balcony cabin was a little tight with four people, but we were comfortable. We put our DS in the overhead bunk. He did great! Our DD slept in a pack-n-play (from the ship) placed in front of the sliding glass door. The cabin steward removed the glass table from the cabin to make room for the pack-n-play. My parents were on one side and my in-laws were on the other side. We had beautiful weather in Alaska. It was sunny and in the low 60s in port. The day viewing Hubbard Glacier was colder but I was fine in a sweater and pullover fleece out on our balcony for a few hours. The mountains were still covered in snow and they looked absolutely beautiful. We also enjoyed the long hours of daylight. That was really amazing to me. We cruised the Inside Passage on the Star Princess in August of 2003. When we do another Alaska cruise I think we will chose May again because of the snow and the long days. In Sitka, we were pleased at how smoothly and quickly the tendering process went. We walked to the National Park and then to the Raptor Center. This was actually my favorite port. We used a stroller for DD. DS either walked or my husband carried him on his shoulders. After the Raptor Center, DS actually fell asleep while on his dad's shoulders! In Juneau, we took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier. We also went up on the Mt. Roberts Tramway. All the trails were closed because they were still covered in snow. The kids had fun standing on and touching the snow near the gift shop. In Ketchikan we walked around and then went to the Lumberjack Show. The kids really enjoyed this but DD was very restless when the host was talking in between the events. She was enthralled when the events were taking place. In Victoria, we walked downtown and then took a horse and buggy ride which was great. We had early seating for dinner. We went through a lot of toys at dinner but we were able to keep the kids entertained the majority of the time. There was a thread a while back about kids and Celebrity. We love Celebrity and plan to cruise with them again. People were generally very nice to the kids. In the dinning room, I told the tables around us that we were gong to try our best to keep the kids from disturbing them. If needed, we would have taken the kids out. Our DD had to be taken out twice for a brief break. The people around us were very pleasant to us and the kids and complimented them and us on the last night. The assistant maitre'd told my son twice that one night we would celebrate his upcoming birthday with a cake and everyone signing to him but he never followed through! On the second to last night he actually said, "Tomorrow night we are going to celebrate your birthday and have a cake and everyone will sing to you." While the adults were disappointed, our son didn't seem to understand that he had been promised a cake and then didn't get it. I think he could not fully understand him because of his accent. We had excellent service throughout the ship with the exception of our assistant maitre'd. Our waiter did an excellent job. It was the assistant waiter's second week and we could see the improvement as the week went on. Our cabin steward did a great job. We had the best wine sommelier yet; he recommended excellent wines in our price point. When I said I didn't want to pay $60 for a bottle, he recommended something in the $40 range. He was also very fast in coming to our table and bringing the wine. The biggest thrill at dinner was seeing whales one night! I was never overly excited by the entree choices but every meal was very tasty and I enjoyed them. We had dinner in the dinning room every night, breakfast in the buffet, and lunches in the buffet and dinning room (three times). I really prefer lunch in the dinning room even with the kids because someone is waiting us and it easier and usually tastier than the buffet. The naturalist on board, Brent Nixon, was excellent and very entertaining. Two of the production shows were pretty good (especially the Broadway night) but we thought the rock-n-roll show was a bit tasteless - very skimpy costumes and suggestive dancing. We also thought the singing wasn't as good as in the other shows. The comedian was excellent! The cruise director, Jeff Potts, did an awesome job. We enjoyed the bands performing in the various lounges. Regarding the dress code: We were pleased that almost everyone adhered to the formal night guidelines! We don't get to dress up very often at home but we love dressing up on cruises. Our son loved wearing a tie. Informal night was mostly ignored which surprised us. We saw very few jackets and ties on informal night. The ship was very hot but the men in our family wore their jackets and ties to dinner. They did remove their jackets in the shows on informal nights because of the warm temperature and because no one else was wearing a jacket. We had an in-cabin-babysitter the first six nights. She came at 8:30. One time the kids were already asleep and the other five nights they were ready for bed but awake when she got there. We liked her and so did the kids. The babysitting is $8 an hour for a minimum of three hours. We were typically out from about 8:30 to 11:15. We went to all of the shows with our parents and then we enjoyed some time talking and listening to music just the two of us. One couple stopped me in the hall outside of our cabin and asked if they could see the sleeping arrangements because they are considering a cruise with their grandchildren. So, I opened the door and let them look in. LOL. Some people asked me about having little kids on the cruise and this is what I told them, "We have the same behavior challenges at home as we have here (listening, obeying, not running away) but on the ship someone else does the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning." It was work to help the kids in their on-going process of learning to listen and obey and be respectful of others but it is work at home also. Of course, it is mostly our DS who is working on this as our DD is still very young and fairly compliant. Next year, we plan on leaving the kids with grandparents while we go on a cruise to celebrate our tenth anniversary (with Celebrity if we find the right itinerary) and the following year we hope to cruise with the kids again and maybe we will be fortunate enough to get to go with both sets of grandparents again. We all think this is a great way to take a family vacation. Last year we went to Disney World with my in-laws and another couple who have a DD the same age as our DS. We plan on going again with all of them this fall. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This was our second cruise to Alaska on the Infinity. The first was an Inside passage out of Vancouver in late June 2004. We booked this cruise just about 10 days prior to leaving, I just needed a relaxing vacation, the price was great ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska on the Infinity. The first was an Inside passage out of Vancouver in late June 2004. We booked this cruise just about 10 days prior to leaving, I just needed a relaxing vacation, the price was great and we had really enjoyed our first cruise to Alaska. I had been expecting a similar experience but there were a lot of differences in the cruise, even though it was the same ship. Embarkation in Seattle- We left our hotel in downtown Seattle about 11:20 and were in our stateroom before noon. It wasn't ready but we left our carryons in the closet. We did carry on the allowed 2 bottles of wine, and had a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our CC cabin. Ship- We felt really comfortable on the ship. The public areas were clean and in good shape. I was impressed that they could keep all of the chairs and sofas in the lounge areas so clean looking. Our room was clean for the most part, the linens looked new, the bathroom, balcony and furniture were clean. The desk looked dirty when we got in, so I took a wet towel and wiped it down, but the stains were permanent. Food- The buffet had a lot of choices, so it was never hard to find something good. Our favorite things were the omelet bar, the waffles, soups at lunch, make your own salads and the pizza. There was a Asian food station that looked good, but we did not try it. The outdoor grill was yummy as usual-the fries and onion rings are outstanding. The Aqua spa seemed to have limited choices and they were all cold. Since the weather was marginal- I skipped it this time. We only had one lunch in the main dining room (Trellis), but it was very good. We had all of our dinners in Trellis and had great service. There were a lot of choices for the starters and entrees each night, and I thought everything I had was pretty good! We skipped dessert most nights, there was not a lot that appealed to me. We did order room service for snacks a few times, as we had late seating, and they were fast. We did order breakfast twice- the first time it was great and hot. More on the second time later in the review. I decided I really did like late seating better than early. Shows- We only saw a few shows, with the late seating, it either conflicted with us getting ready, or us wanting to move around after eating. They had starting a new program "Starring You- Awards Show". Some events the first few days/nights were listed as being part of the Starring You events. There were finalists chosen by either the activity staff or fellow cruisers who either performed at the Celebrity Theater or were given awards. My daughter participated in the 'Live Performance' category (which was Karaoke)and had alot of fun getting to meet the other performers and the activity staff. She didn't win, but got stopped a lot for the rest of the cruise by people that had seen her, so she felt pretty special! Activities- There seemed to be a lot more trivia than I remember, and since I love trivia we had fun playing multiple times each day. While we did not win every time, we still came home with lots of pens, lanyards and luggage tags. We also did an origami class and Bingo. Events- We had a lovely formal tea the second day, a Captains Club party with free drinks, a Gala event after the Awards show - lots of yummy desserts and a Martini station with an ice carving that delivered your drink. We skipped most of the other parties. Weather- What a difference a few weeks made! It was cold and drizzly most days, with rough seas a few days. On our first trip we had seen lots of eagles in trees in Juneau and Ketichan-but only a few this time. We also had seen lots of seals/sea lions ( I don't know the difference) when we went to Hubbard Glacier- I did not see any this time. I think when we go again we will wait until the end of June or early July. Ports- Our first stop was Sitka. We walked to the Raptor Center, and had a great time there. We took a shuttle back to town, walked and shopped some, and then tendered back. In Juneau we went to the Summer Sled Dog camp excursion and it was interesting. The ride was kind of scary up a mountain on a one lane road, but I never felt unsafe. The dogs were great, very excitable and we took a 'sled' ride. It is amazing how strong these dogs are! Once we finished we walked and shopped around town and went back to the ship. In Ketchikan we just walked and shopped some more. Since we had been to all of the same ports, and done a lot of shore excursions the first time, we took it very easy. When we got to Victoria, it was 7:30PM or so and had to be back by midnight, we didn't even get off, and just went to dinner. Hubbard Glacier- The captain got us .30 miles from the glacier! We saw lots of calving (which we missed on the first trip since we were so far away). The staff served free hot split pea soup to those out on the observation decks, and had hot chocolate for sale. Disembarkation- When we got back to our cabin the night before, we noticed the a lot of the other cabins had ordered full CC breakfasts, so we filled one out too. The next morning we had a delivery of their continental breakfast - 4 pieces of toast, with a pitcher of hot water for tea, instead of what we had ordered. So we went up to the buffet. We had a late flight out of Seattle so we did not care to rush off the boat, but we still were off by 8:30. We used the luggage valet service- that worked great, and customs was a breeze. We did have a really relaxing time, loved the Martini Bar (ask for El), the activity staff was great and very personable. The dining staff was great, our steward was very good, and we had an outstanding Mother/Daughter get away! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
To celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I took our children and grandchildren (27 people in total) on an Alaskan cruise. We had done a three-day river cruise, but that was the extent of our cruise experience. We've had ... Read More
To celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I took our children and grandchildren (27 people in total) on an Alaskan cruise. We had done a three-day river cruise, but that was the extent of our cruise experience. We've had family reunions for each of the last twelve years, but as our family grew it has become more difficult to find a location that would accommodate everyone's favorite activities, food choices, etc. Also, try going into a restaurant and ask for seating for 27 people. A cruise seemed solve a lot of problems. We got preliminary quotes from several cruise lines. We settled on Celebrity. Our anniversary was June 28th so we selected a cruise on the Infinity that left port on June 27th and returned July 4th. We arrived in Seattle on the Wednesday before sailing and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Tukwila. I had arranged for a bus to take all 27 of us sightseeing on Thursday and then to the pier on Friday. That worked out well. We had two dinners at the Claim Jumper Restaurant near our hotel and all enjoyed our meals, particularly the huge desserts. Celebrity uses Pier 66 in Seattle and they are very organized to handle the crowds. We arrived at the pier about 1:30pm and found that the embarkation process went smoothly. Our group had a total of ten cabins. My wife and I were in a Concierge Class cabin (#8134) that had a small (but usable) veranda. Our four children had ocean view cabins and the grandchildren had inside cabins. All of these cabins were on the second deck, very near each other. The two families with small children had the parents and two children in a cabin. It was tight, but workable. Having storage room for suitcases under the beds helped. The cabins were clean and in generally good repair. The upholstered furniture in our cabin was showing some wear and we had a sink that made a loud burbing noise every time it was used. Our cabin attendant (Theresa) had it fixed immediately. Unfortunately Theresa is being transferred to one of Celebrity's new ships so you won't be able to get her. She was a gem. We selected main seating in the Trellis Restaurant and were assigned four tables on the fifth deck. We prepaid the gratuities which allowed us to re-arrange our seating among those tables each night. We had requested that our children and grandchildren meet for dinner each evening, and beyond that they could do as they wished. My wife and I took most of our meals in the Trellis, but the others usually ate breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe on deck 10. The grandchildren especially enjoyed being able to select whatever they wanted. We didn't use the S.S. United States restaurant. Our waiters, Ferdinand and John, were very good. They both sat with the younger children a couple of evenings and entertained them with tricks. The food was generally good, but not outstanding. The only real disappointment was the lobster tails on the second formal night. They were dry and tasteless. They younger children were able to get pretty much whatever they wanted, even if it wasn't on the daily menu. Speaking of the formal nights, we saw some men with tuxedos but most wore dark suits. Women's wear was all over the map, but generally upscale. We saw no one turned away for improper attire. We went to most of the presentations by the naturalist Brent Nixon. He was both informative and entertaining. We also went to most of the variety shows and enjoyed them. Several of our family participated in the Karaoke contests and it was fun for us to watch them. My wife and I went on a few excursions: Sea Life Semi-Submersible in Sitka, Gold Creek Salmon Bake in Juneau, and the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau. We also took a bus in Juneau to see the Mendenhall Glacier. I can recommend them all. Other family members went whale watching, fishing, hiking, and of course, shopping. No one was disappointed. Shopping seemed to be the best in Juneau and the prices weren't too bad. We were lucky with our weather. The only rain was in Juneau and it was just a couple of drops. The temperature was cool so we layered a lot. Debarking went well. We used the Luggage Valet program so that after placing our checked luggage outside of our cabin Thursday night, we didn't see it until we claimed it at the airport in Detroit on Friday. The cost of $20 per person was worth it. Overall, a very good experience. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
Our group numbered 14, all from one family, ranging in age from 13-71, all but one were first time cruisers, and none had seen Alaska yet. We flew into Seattle on the night before embarkation and had a great fish and oyster dinner in the ... Read More
Our group numbered 14, all from one family, ranging in age from 13-71, all but one were first time cruisers, and none had seen Alaska yet. We flew into Seattle on the night before embarkation and had a great fish and oyster dinner in the Wharf area at Elliott's. My review should be read with the note that it was our first commercial cruise, so don't have much to compare it to, other than comments from friends and CC members. Embarkation on Friday was a breeze. We took the advice of some previous Infinity cruisers and arrived at the pier at 11am, and virtually flew through right on to the ship. After boarding we split up for our initial exploration, and met again for lunch in the Oceanview Cafe for the first buffet lunch. After getting underway promptly at 4pm, we spent the next few hours watching the Puget Sound scenery go by. We had the late seating in the Trellis Room and for the most part, we all ate each evening meal there. The food was excellent and the service was just superb. Since we all enjoyed the food and service there we did not try the upscale SS United States restaurant. The two formal nights were pleasant and on the night before arriving in Victoria, the menu included filet and lobster, followed by a descent of the staircase of all the service personnel with their trays of Baked Alaska. The chilled soups were just terrific throughout the week. Don't think the meals there and the service could have been much better. Most mornings and several lunches we ate at the healthy food Aqua Spa cafe/buffet behind the Thera Pool. It was cool and overcast for the entire week so the heated Thera pool was the only one used by the passengers and it got a little crowded most of the time. The best time to use it is when everyone is either leaving or already ashore at the ports we visited. Ditto for the spa services, but it seemed they were in pretty heavy use the entire time, and reservations/appointments were difficult to come by if you didn't make the effort early in the cruise week. We had five veranda rooms, two ocean view rooms, and one inside room. Although it was cold most of the time, we all enjoyed being able to stand or sit out on the veranda bundled up and watch the magnificent scenery go by, especially the inland passage on the return route. Based on the advice of several Cruise Critic members, we brought the cheap plastic disposable ponchos (Target) to wear in case of rain while ashore, but luckily it didn't rain even one day, although a bit misty, overcast and cool most days. We also brought a power strip which was handy for plugging in multiple power supplies, and several of the gals brought the expandable shoe holders for the closets which were also handy for various small objects. We all found the rooms to be perfectly designed, with plenty of room and the nice feature of being able to store bags/suitcases under the bed was a real space saver. One of our group had a key clothes bag missing on embarkation, and didn't get a whole lot of optimistic support from Guest Services, but the room attendant (Rene') persisted through the day, and by mid-evening the bag was found and brought to the room. The room service for all rooms was just as excellent as the restaurant service. Most all crew members were extremely friendly and helpful the entire week. Activities: Most of us enjoyed the karaoke, trivia contests, and Brent Nixon's talks on wildlife and Alaska. We played in the blackjack and poker tournaments in Fortunes Casino and the young bettors in our party fared pretty well, winning two or three tournaments and coming in second a couple of times. We had a group picture taken on the last formal night and purchase several copies of an excellent photo. We had a birthday on board with cake provided in Trellis one evening and also had a private wedding vow renewal ceremony in a conference room provided by the ship's activities director. All these were fun experiences. Ports: Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan were all mostly populated in the off pier/down town areas by trinket/souvenir shops and a preponderance of sameness....seen one, seen them all, was the sort of feeling you got after first stepping ashore. Sitka-a group of us walked from the pier to the Raptor Center, about a mile or so, and enjoyed the center's tour and discussion about the eagles, hawks, owls, and vultures there. After the walk back we did stop for a quick bite at the hotel near the park, and then returned to the ship. Sitka was the only port where tendering was necessary, and as long as you weren't in a hurry to get ashore and waited for the initial surge of passengers to leave, it was an easy transfer to the boats and short trip to the pier and back. Hubbard and Russell Glaciers-the ship's captain did an absolutely fantastic job of maneuvering the Infinity in close to both glaciers, through and around ice floes, large floating ice chunks, in order to afford passengers the best views possible. We were within a mile of Russell and about two miles from Hubbard. The whole thing was spectacular, especially with the occasional calving, and sightings of seals or otters. It was pretty cold and we saw plenty of folks with their $9 souvenir coffee or hot chocolate cups walking around with their binoculars. A real treat and one that our entire group counts as a highlight of the trip. Juneau-we took the advice of several CC members and rented two Rent-a-Wreck cars for the trip to Mendenhall glacier and around. That was a lot of fun, including the walk from the parking area to the viewing spots for the glacier and waterfall. After a nice hour or two at the glacier and on the way back to downtown Juneau, we also stopped for fish and chips at the Sand Bar and Cafe, a few blocks from the Rent-a-Wreck office and had their wonderful halibut and chips, probably the best we had all week. I recommend it...right at the corner of Industrial Road and the main north highway (turn left just past the Mendenhall River bridge). Ketchikan-only one member of our group tried the ship excursions and here he tried his hand at zip lining and just loved it. Of course being young (22), and willing to take the risk helps. He did report that the entire time he felt perfectly safe and secure. As previously noted, Ketchikan's shops were carbon copies of the other two stops, but we took a walk to the Salmon Hatchery and the Totem Museum and came back along "Husband's Walk" and Creek Street, and enjoyed the short outing before reboarding. Victoria-regretfully, 5 hours from 7pm-midnight is too short a period of time to see and enjoy Victoria, and makes it especially difficult to visit Butchart Gardens, one of the most spectacular gardens in North America. There is a ship excursion but it is expensive, and even going via cab/taxi is expensive.....and the short time makes the city transportation system risky for getting back in time. We arrived in Seattle right on time on Friday morning the 13th, and disembarkation was as efficient as the embarkation process. We whizzed right through in about 10-15 minutes and next thing we knew we were out on Harbor Drive headed back to Pike's Market for breakfast. We took advantage of the on-board checking of luggage all the way to our destination (available in conjunction with most major airlines if you have a flight between about noon and early evening on the day of arrival)......our baggage tags we received the night before arrival were placed on the bags, the bags were put outside the staterooms, and the next time we saw them was at our final destination (in this case, the San Diego airport). They charge $20 per person for this service but for us, with a 3pm flight, it was well worth it. One final note....on the date of arrival and disembarkation we enjoyed a visit to the Seattle Art Museum (corner of 1st and University) and then discovered that there is an express city bus (#194) that goes from the underground bus terminal (Benaroya Hall) behind the art museum on 2nd Street, round trip to the airport for $1.50 per person (particularly useful and inexpensive if you have only a small bag). To sum it up, the entire experience was even better than we expected. The ship was clean, the entire embark/disembark process was easy, the rooms were well designed and comfortable, the room and food service were superb, the food was really good in the Trellis and Aqua Spa restaurants, and pretty good at the Oceanview, and the trip was a great family get-together as well. Kudos to Celebrity and especially to Infinity. We'll sail Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
I would like to start by pointing out that I am a grown man who chose to escort my mother on the Celebrity Infinity Hubbard Glacier Cruise. I had never been on a cruise before, though my wife and I had scheduled a cruise a few years ago ... Read More
I would like to start by pointing out that I am a grown man who chose to escort my mother on the Celebrity Infinity Hubbard Glacier Cruise. I had never been on a cruise before, though my wife and I had scheduled a cruise a few years ago for our honeymoon but had to cancel due to illness. I didn't set my expectations too high, since my mother is not in great health and I knew we would be limited in some of our activities. EMBARKATION: Being a first timer, I was unfamiliar with some of the processes of getting on a cruise ship, but we did have our paperwork in order. There was a long line of people getting on the ship, but apparently they were checking their bags and may have belonged to a "frequent passenger" club. We went through a line with no wait, where we checked our bags with no problems. Once we got through security, we had our Embarkation Photo taken (I ended up buying this one for my mother), and then proceeded to board the ship and find our room. I was pleasantly surprised when we got on board to be greeted with information pamphlets and a complimentary glass of champagne. We went through the casino and down the glass elevator to our stateroom on the 2nd deck. While my mom wanted to avoid the muster drill, I dragged her out there and it went smoothly (we actually ended up on the DVD during the drill). ROOM: I had heard for years about how infamously small all cruise rooms are, so I expected something like a prison cell with bunkbeds. While our room was minimal, it had plenty of space to move around, and we did have an oceanview window. My mother spent a lot of time with a walker, and the hall and room were wide enough for her to move around easily. We had our beds separated, which crunched space a little, but our room attendant (Baca) was very congenial and accommodating. There was a slight leak of dripping water from a light overhead, but as soon as I pointed it out to Baca, he said (with an accent) "This not small problem - this BIG problem!" and within 10 minutes a maintenance man showed up and replaced the panel and light. No problems the rest of the way. Baca also gave us additional towels whenever we asked. THE SHIP: The Infinity was a much larger ship than I expected, and it took a few days to get a feel for where everything was located. After an entire week, I still feel that there were areas I never found or had a chance to explore. There are a lot of balconies, viewing areas, extended windows, and even the glass elevators that extend from the side of the ship. The pools looked great, and there were four jacuzzis that were always running, though few people swam because of the weather. Weather overall was fine, but a bit chilly for swimming outdoors. Most people swam and hung out in the Thelassotherapy heated pool and jacuzzis indoors, including myself one night. The Constellation room on deck 11 provided comfortable seating, drinking, and awesome views of the front and sides of the ship, while the buffet and dining rooms in the aft of the ship offered great visuals and an outdoor dining area. The casino was strategically located on deck 4 at midship, and was always active. While the ship never felt overcrowded, the elevators could be quite slow at times, especially during dinnertime and shore excursions. THE CREW: The crew aboard the Infinity were very impressive. We loved our stateroom attendant, Baca, and our waitstaff (Anthony and Ramil). They all took their jobs very seriously and treated us with respect, and remembering certain nuances (Anthony would bring us both an iced tea with every meal, without asking). The guest relations people were fantastic, answering all sorts of questions about disembarkation, shore excursions, and even finding a lost pair of sunglasses for me. The captain, Demetri Kazefkis (sp?) was very entertaining when we saw him speak, and the casino dealers were overall pleasant. For those planning to spend a lot of time playing Blackjack, you already know how important it is to have a dealer that is not only competent, but pleasant and encouraging without intimidating or rushing the players. For this reason I recommend Rodolfo and Nan as the best dealers I played with. If you end up playing with a dealer named Diego, be prepared to hear him utter "Unbelievable!" every time he hits 21 or a blackjack (which happens a lot). I would also like to add that my mother needed to use a wheelchair a few times on the boat, and the crew was very accommodating about offering to help her on and off the boat for shore excursions. THE FOOD: For a quality ship like the Infinity, I was hoping to have some of the best food I've had in years, based on reviews and what friends had told me. However, a few meals left a little to be desired, though they weren't bad by any stretch. We ate most of our meals in the dining room (Trellis Restaurant), and a few in the buffet (Oceanview Grill, I believe). I found the food in the buffet to be just a notch below that of the dining room, so if I missed a meal at the Trellis I didn't feel too bad. Our dinner companions were very pleasant, and the Maitre'D was effective at maintaining his presence but not intruding. Some of the meals at dinner were a bit bland to my taste - I would avoid the Duck a l'Orange (dry and overcooked), and make sure when you order your steak you clarify how you want it cooked. I ordered medium rare and it was perfect, but my mom ordered a steak rare and it was well-done. I would also caution against ordering any type of cake for dessert and stick to pastries and/or custards. Every cake I tried seemed to be thawed after being frozen, and contained too much water, giving it a "spongy, squishy" texture that doesn't sit well with cakes. THE ENTERTAINMENT: I was VERY impressed with the quality of the shows that we attended. While I didn't see either of the comedians, I did catch the shows featuring the Celebrity Players, who performed three times, on alternating nights. The Broadway salute was fantastic, the Rock and Roll show was decent, but the World Celebration was the most enjoyable of all. These guys and gals are really talented, and I was amazed that such spectacular shows could be on a cruise ship. The other activities around the ship seemed to be fun, though I did not participate in much else other than an art auction and a trivia contest. I did watch the Polar Bear Swim while facing the Hubbard Glacier, and everyone had a good time with that. SHORE EXCURSIONS: I had not planned on taking any excursions in the towns of Alaska, mostly because I wasn't familiar with the process. However, because of my mother's health, she encouraged me to take a few and I ended up going on an excursion for each of the three Alaskan stops. The fourth port, Victoria, was dedicated to me having a few pints of Guinness at the Irish Times Pub. In Sitka, I did a bike and hike, and realized just how out of shape I am. However, the young guides were very friendly and accommodating to all of us, and we got some free chocolate bars from a local Chocolate shop at the end of the trip! In Juneau, I went kayaking across Fritz Harbor, saw a few seals, and took pictures of the Mendenhall Glacier from a distance. In Ketchikan, I did the zipline canopy and wall climbing tour. All three were great, but were a bit pricey (anywhere from $75 - $175 for each one). The zip line was the excursion I most looked forward to, and while I enjoyed it, it was over too quickly. We just went down four lines, without realizing that would be it. When we finished, everyone moved to the climbing wall and we were told the zipline portion was over (that's what everyone had wanted to do). SUMMARY: For the money, I am now convinced that cruising is the way to go. In fact, my wife and I are now going on our first cruise together next week in the Caribbean, just a week after getting back from Alaska! I hope to travel with Celebrity again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
My wife and I just returned from our first Alaskan cruise on Celebrity's Infinity and had a terrific time. We felt that, by in large, the cruise met or exceeded our expectations in almost every respect. Background: I think this is ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our first Alaskan cruise on Celebrity's Infinity and had a terrific time. We felt that, by in large, the cruise met or exceeded our expectations in almost every respect. Background: I think this is important. The more you know about a reviewer, the more you can decide whether those observations will hold for you. My wife (27) and I (33) are employed professionals living in the inner suburbs of Washington, DC. I would describe our tastes as leaning towards things more reflective and muted (e.g., books, music, and movies) rather than pulsating and participatory (e.g., loud pool parties). That said, among some of our social circles, we are often considered more outgoing than many. We have no children. Though this was our third cruise, we are still "new" to cruising, as all three of our trips have been in the past year and a half. Before our first cruise, I researched a fair amount on Cruise Critic and have continued to do so ever since. My first two cruise reviews are on this site. To give you an idea of my perspective without reading those (lengthy) reviews, I will highlight briefly our previous two experiences. Our first cruise was an Eastern Caribbean itinerary in April 2007 onboard the Caribbean Princess. With Princess itself, we were happy. However, the presence of 1000+ children was a big issue. I should point out my wife is a schoolteacher, and views our vacations as a time to escape that world. Unfortunately, we realize that's when families with children are also taking vacations. I don't have any responsibilities to our nation's youth in my job, but I would certainly say that my tastes in most things are fairly adult-centric. Our second cruise—actually booked after this one—was on Celebrity Century for a two-night Bahamas trip this past January. We did this as a short vacation to "taste" Celebrity before this cruise. While there were many fewer children on board, and those that were were well behaved, we were disappointed with what could only be called a lackadaisical effort on the part of Celebrity. We were concerned that this Alaskan cruise might share the shortcomings our previous experience with Celebrity had. Fortunately, it did not. I will try to highlight the specifics in my review itself, so people can decide whether my opinions and thoughts will hold for them. That said, as a brief overview, we were treated well by Celebrity on this cruise. Service, food and accommodations in general were all very good. I had been to Alaska before in my teens (not a cruise) and knew to expect much from the 49th state. My wife had not been before, but still had high expectations. It's an amazing place. While I know cruising only provides us the opportunity to tap the surface, it's still sufficient to gain an appreciation—if not a fascination—for a place still relatively remote from the rest of the world. Good weather during our cruise didn't hurt either. Pre-Cruise: We flew from D.C. to Seattle. Due to using frequent flier miles, we had non-direct flights, and thus, chose to get into Seattle the night before (Thursday night). Air travel being what it is, we were two hours late ("engine problems") and didn't get checked into the hotel until about 12:30am Seattle time. I should mention that we stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown (it's really on the outskirts of downtown). I liked the hotel. It's a Hampton Inn—not posh, but clean, and you know what you're getting; the staff was exceptionally polite, I thought, and very accommodating with holding our bags and calling for taxis, etc. The neighborhood is good (though I still haven't found a bad one in Seattle). Embarkation: This was, hands down, the worst embarkation of the three cruises so far, though I'm not sure how much of it (if any) is Celebrity's fault. We got there at about 12:30pm, probably peak time. For those not familiar with it, Seattle's Pier 66 is off of Alaskan Way, and is very much part of the city, unlike say in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, where the ports are more like separate enclaves. When the cab dropped us off, there were no stevedores to take our luggage, though the cabbie said he thought you could find one. It turns our—best I can tell—that there are none. While you queue up for "Baggage Drop Off", there are about four Celebrity employees making sure you have the right documentation. But that line, you eventually realize, is one big funnel. At its end is ONE Port of Seattle dockworker loading, by hand, every piece of checked luggage through ONE X-ray machine. There were probably three workers behind the X-ray, loading the scanned luggage into bins. All these guys were working very hard, no question, but this process seems beyond insane. It probably took us 20-30 minutes to unload our bags. Checking in, going through security, walking up the gangway, etc. probably took another 20, partially reduced by having a slightly shorter line for Concierge Class. Fine. But sitting there with four bags while one guy lifts every piece of luggage that's going on the ship is a bit ridiculous. I hope this is not standard operating procedure, but it very well may be. The actual checking-in part was fine. This time (unlike our first Celebrity cruise), we were escorted to our cabin by a steward. Frankly, he looked rather bored by the experience, but that's fine. Our champagne (or more accurately, French sparkling wine) was awaiting us. Certainly not the best I've had, but you could do worse. Much has been written about the merits (or lack thereof) of Concierge Class. My take was that, in this specific case, I'm glad we did it. The things I noticed were (beside the champagne): flowers, afternoon canapEs (mostly inedible), a nicer room service menu for breakfast (excellent), priority luggage, table preference priority, a rather nice tote bag, and some upgraded pillows. Of course, how much you pay for these extras really defines their value. I recall a comparable balcony cabin was about $40 per person less. Were those things worth $80 to us on this trip? Yes. Would they be worth $150/person to us? No. The Infinity itself is certainly a classy ship, but I wouldn't describe it as spic-n-span. The public rooms are nice, and I enjoyed the funky artwork. But she's definitely showing some wear. I know the outsides of ships rust easily, so I have no complaints about that. But much of the wood on the top decks was worn. Our bathroom, while acceptably clean, was a little dingy in places. The stateroom itself was in pretty good shape and the bed and pillows were excellent. In general, I would say she would benefit from a drydock, but is certainly acceptable. I heard rumors on the ship that she may be scheduled for one. I actually thought the cleanliness procedures on the ship were a little lax. The usual strict sanitation procedures to avoid Norovirus (e.g., strict buffet procedures) seemed largely absent on this ship. The Celebrity Theatre is one of the highpoints in terms of public rooms. Also, we enjoyed Michael's Club and Words, the library. Dining: Our experience was very positive. We sat at a table for two, which we really enjoyed (it reminded us fondly of the "Anytime Dining" experiences on Princess in that respect). Our waiters, Ali and Rony, from Turkey and Honduras, respectively, were excellent. The so-called "typical" things on cruises they did rather well: remembering preferences, providing good recommendations, suggesting shore excursions, making sure we enjoyed our food, etc. The food…you know, I can't say more about it than what has already been said. It was good, often excellent. It's not truly gourmet, I think most people would agree, but better than what I would call upscale "banquet food." Also, we got the opportunity to eat many things that we rarely eat at home. My wife rarely eats quail, for instance. I don't usually eat chilled soups with dinner every night. It was a nice experience. We ate the SS United States on the third night. The gastronomical and service highlight of the trip, hands down. Heard various stories about them pushing wine. We decided to do the wine pairing, since we knew we would have a bottle anyway, and at $60 for two people, it seemed like a good deal. The service was superb. Never rushed, but never waited for anything and the food was very, very good. Yes, there was much "theatre," but I can live with that (indeed, I even enjoy it), provided that it's a special occasion and the food lives up to it. It certainly did for us. To walk away with that experience for $120 plus tip was well worth it. Similar, as experiences go, to the Ultimate Balcony Dining we did on Princess for $100. Both are highly recommended. Fellow Passengers: I must say that this is an important issue for my wife and me. A large amount of enjoyment (or lack thereof) in a cruise comes from the personalities and behavior of one's fellow passengers. First, let me start by saying there were, according to the cruise director, 330 children onboard, with about 100-150 teens. There were lots of children between 6-11, which I found a little strange, since they seem to get very little out of Alaska, unlike older children. Obviously, the children were less of a presence than on our spring break Princess ship. Moreover, I felt that, by in large, they were better behaved. That said, no review of mine would be complete without an out-of-control kids story. The worst I witnessed was when one boy (perhaps 11) was chasing two girls (probably his sisters) of about 6 and 8, all screaming at the top of their lungs, up two flights of stairs, then through the library, up the stairs of the library (it's two decks) while running past adults reading in their chairs. Apparently, views of beautiful glaciers don't interest 8 year olds all that much. That said, we did see kid counselors trying to keep the kids in line. Bravo! In general, there were lots of couples between the ages of 55-70, with actually significantly fewer people 75+ than I was expecting. I thought the overwhelming majority of these passengers were nice, though our interactions with most of them was limited, perhaps due to the age difference. Of course every trip with large groups of people have their obnoxious components, but most of the time, we didn't find them to be anything more than a visible minority. Activities and Entertainment: I once read somewhere that Celebrity has "lavish but uninspired" Broadway-style production shows. I would say that's largely my take on it. As I see it, the entertainment of the ship falls into several categories, only one of which is the main production shows. The Celebrity dancers and singers, as they're called, did an adequate job, but tastes on this matter vary. The aforementioned 55-70ish crowd seemed to enjoy the Broadway show tunes the young twenty-somethings belted out. I myself was a little annoyed that during the "Let's Rock" montage of early rock songs, each song never lasted more than 30 seconds of any one very popular hit. It's as though they think our attention spans are not significantly long to endure a four-minute song. A little bizarre. The comedian Don Sherman (old school, observational humor, former TV writer) was pretty good. The ventriloquist was rather dull and pedestrian. We had a good time in the casino, though both of us faired rather poorly in terms of luck. Unlike on Princess, they did have an actual poker table where you could play other players. Friendly group of players there, though I'm sure that varies. Unlike our Century trip, where the tables were packed and with $10 minimums, there was almost always room at a $5 blackjack or craps table. At times it was almost too quiet, and we only went during peak times—right before or right after late dinner seating. Last entertainment note should be about the naturalist, Brent Nixon. Not what I was expecting, but very impressive. I was expecting someone with the demeanor of a park ranger. He's very much a skilled performer, but his enthusiasm for Alaska and the natural world is authentic, and his knowledge isn't superficial. I was delighted that someone with an unabashedly anti-consumption, pro-environment message was given a voice. He never came across as cynical or dismissive, and his eagerness to engage people, especially children, was endearing. His talk over the ship's intercom during our cruising of the Hubbard Glacier was a highlight of the trip. Service: As I've mentioned in this review, service was usually very good, and often excellent. Dining room and cabin service tended to be the best, as is often the case. Bar service was usually very good, though the whole sommelier business is a little annoying. While having one or two is good for those with wine questions, I don't need one to open my bottle of Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir. My wife and I would switch between beer and wine, depending on our mood and our meal, but they always seemed to assume we were going to do what we did the night before; so there was sometimes a delay in getting our order. And while less bad than last cruise, the wine menus and glasses seem very tightly rationed. Frankly, I didn't find our sommelier all that helpful; he just seemed to be running around a lot, opening bottles. I think a better idea is to have the waiter (or assistant) open wine. This would require a higher number of waiters to guests, but that could be achieved by reducing the number of sommeliers. But I digress. Our cabin steward (Igusti from Indonesia) was not the chatty type, but he and his teammate did their jobs extremely well. Two highlights from that: when we called the front desk because I had some bad blisters from hiking, he immediately delivered six band-aids in envelope. Also, the first couple afternoons we called to ask for fresh ice (he replaced it twice daily, but our smuggled-before-dinner G&Ts were made after the morning's ice was largely melted). By day 4, he was knocking with a fresh afternoon replacement before we could even ask. Things like this made going to work on the following Monday a little tough. As stated previously, the SS United States service was superb. The low point for service was the front desk. I suspect this is common. There was an issue with getting our fuel surcharge refunded. I kept asking: first, they said the refund list hadn't come yet; then they said it was late and they would let me know when it did (of course, they did not); then they said I wasn't on the list, claiming I didn't pay the fuel surcharge; then they saw that I did, but even the manager couldn't really help me. Long story short, they connected me with my travel agent and she is now getting the refund processed. While the people I dealt with were polite, they were not competent. For all I know, the fuel surcharge issue could have been as much my travel agent's fault as theirs. But if they had told me the first (or second or third) time I went down, "Please call your travel agent and have them contact Celebrity," I would have been satisfied. Basically, they seemed young, inexperienced and under-trained. That said, this was the only service glitch, and it was, frankly, a small one. Shore Excursions: In Sitka we did a "bike-and-hike." Booked through the cruise line. It wasn't bad, but frankly, probably wasn't worth the $80 (paid in advance) per person. The biking didn't add much value (two miles from the bike place to the trailhead, then back again). The guide was nice, but I think we could have done better by taking a cab to the trailhead and hiking ourselves, or just renting bikes for the day with a map. In Juneau, we went whale watching through the independent Orca Enterprises. Nice boat and decent crew. It's about $120 a head. We saw a few humpbacks. I had never been before, and thought it was worth it. I'm not sure I would repeat the experience, though, at least not in Juneau. Once was enough. In Ketchikan, we took a cab ($11 including nice tip) to the head of Deer Mountain trail and hiked up about 3000 feet and 3 miles to near the top of the mountain. It was pretty intense doing the 6-mile roundtrip in about 4 hours. The top was covered in many feet of snow, but it was actually warm, very humid and somehow incredibly buggy. We only crossed two others from the cruise that hiked to the top. A few were going part of the way up as we were coming down. For those looking for some fairly good exercise in Ketchikan, I recommend it. You can find maps at the visitors center right off the dock. The guy in there was helpful. Miscellaneous Final Thoughts: I tried to highlight some specific diary accounts in this review, but for final observations, I will say that we had an excellent time on Celebrity and thought it was a very worthwhile experience. We planned a southern Caribbean cruise this upcoming January, originally on Princess. After Princess cancelled the cruise, we switched to a same-day departure on Carnival. We now have moved our plane tickets so that we can do Celebrity instead, despite some extra costs. We felt the combination of service, amenities and general vibe on the cruise were very much to our liking. As for Alaska itself, it's an amazing place. It was good to visit it again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
My wife & I took this cruise as an anniversary gift to ourselves. I felt I did a lot of research before booking it. We booked our air and transportation with Celebrity. Will not do that again! We left Hartford CT at 6:00 am and got to ... Read More
My wife & I took this cruise as an anniversary gift to ourselves. I felt I did a lot of research before booking it. We booked our air and transportation with Celebrity. Will not do that again! We left Hartford CT at 6:00 am and got to Seattle via Dallas at 3:15pm for a cruise that sailed at 4:00 pm. They were having the Muster Drill as we arrived. We checked into our CC cabin and met our stateroom attendant Jose. So far so good. We sailed to what had to be the prettiest port I have ever seen, Sitka, Alaska. Did the tourist things and departed for Hubbard Glacier. Very beautiful, but we could not get very close because of the floating ice. Not the cruise line's fault. The Captain, I am sure, did the best he could. On to Juneau & Ketchikan. If you go on one tour, take the Bering Sea crab boat named The Allian Ballad. It was in Ketchikan and is loosely profiled after the TV show Deadliest Catch. I won't give it all away, but if you have never seen a dozen American bald eagles from 20 ft away you will be blown away. We did participate in a lot of activities on the ship and had a good time. Overall this trip to Alaska was fabulous. The only regret was I thought Celebrity Cruise Lines would be a notch above the rest, and that just did not happen. Read Less
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