July 2016 - Celebrity Solstice to Alaska - Inside Passage
We have never been "cruise" people, but this particular cruise far exceeded our expectations. Everything was top notch in my opinion. The service was excellent, the food was delicious (and varied), the entertainment was enjoyable, the stateroom was nice and comfortable (in fact, I think that it was the best that I have ever slept), and the amenities (pool, hot tubs, gym, library, etc) are all well designed and maintained. The ship just felt good, from launch to return.
The excursions were the high point for me. We did the Misty Fords float plane in Ketchikan, the Mendenhall Glacier/Whale watching tour in Juneau, and the White Pass train in Skagway. Much of the reason that they were so enjoyable can be attributed to the awesome weather that we enjoyed, but all three of these experiences were amazing. The operators were great - friendly, informative - they really wanted us to have a good time. I highly recommend these excursions. The high point of the cruise itself for me was our pass by the Dawes glacier. Capt. Tazos took us right up to it, then did two 360's in front of it, in a pretty narrow passage. That was awesome!
The personal touch is embedded through the culture of the ship. From the cabin steward, who greeted us by name every time he saw us, to the bartenders and wait staff, all the way to Captain Tazos, whose frequent announcements were informative, humorous and endearing. The cruise director (Ken) and his staff
projected a good humored and fun vibe that was very infectious. I have to add that the bands in all of the lounges were very good, as were the nightly shows in the theater.
A few recommendations that I can make for those interested in this cruise: One, the balcony stateroom is well worth it. Even though you end up topside for all of the big views, its nice to sit out and enjoy the scenery in the privacy of your room. Second, even though it seems that many people want to be seated in the main dining room, we found that we preferred the food in the buffet - they cook whatever you want, however you want it. And there are endless choices. Once I learned that they had fresh wild caught salmon, I had grilled salmon every night.
They only gripe we had was that the customer service people were a little surly (I know, its ironic). They could take some lessons from the rest of the crew in how to interact with customers.
Overall, I recommend this cruise. If you want to get a taste of Alaska, and you only have a week, this is the best way to go.