pianodude
Third Mate

Joined: 08/21/2016
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pianodude's Past Cruises

Celebrity Solstice

July 2016 - Celebrity Solstice to Alaska - Inside Passage

A great experience

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.

 

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pianodude's Tips

Victoria, British Columbia - There is a bus to take you into the center of town. In retrospect, since the route from the port to that point in town is charming, I would have walked or rented bikes. Much of the central area on the water is also very charming, but once you get a few blocks inland, its not. We were walking around to the points of interest marked on the map, but were turned off by the numerous bums (not necessarily homeless) lining the streets and sidewalks, so we headed back to the ship. We didn't do any excursions.
Ketchikan, Alaska - We walked around in the morning, seeing the sites in town. Then we did the Float plane over the Tongas National Forest. Awesome.
Seattle, Washington - We arrived Thursday and got a room for the night to assure that there would be no problem arriving in time for departure. We walked around Belltown and surrounding area friday morning and early afternoon. It was nice. On our return, since we go in at 8AM, and our flight was at 12:30 AM, we cabbed it to the airport, rented a car, and drove around for the day. We started in Woodinville, then drove to downtown Seattle. In retrospect, we should have stayed in Woodinville - the traffic is horrendous, and by mid afternoon, the attractions in downtown Seattle are packed.
Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska - Set your alarm if you're a heavy sleeper. Its well worth it to see every moment of this. Bring warm clothes - its cold and windy.
Juneau, Alaska - We did the glacier/whale watching. Excursions were great, but the process for getting passengers off the ship that day was ridiculous. The other days, we just got off, then met up with the exclusion reps. This day, everyone had to meet in the theater first. I have no suggestion, but be prepared to wait, and if you do the glacier hike, be prepared to walk very fast.
Skagway, Alaska - Very quaint town. Leave some time to see it before or after your excursion. We did the White Pass train ride.
Celebrity Solstice Celebrity Solstice - We preferred the buffet room to the main dining room. The selection of food is vast. If you opt for the drink package, get a list of everything that it includes. If you only drink top shelf stuff, you may be tempted to get the premium package, but if you don't drink a lot, it may not be worth it.

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received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

commented on a Celebrity Solstice cruise review. - "Re what to pack... we overpacked, but better safe than sorry I guess. Mostly jeans, long sleeved shirt, and hoodie worked for the excursions. I..." read more

commented on a Celebrity Solstice cruise review. - "Our cruise was from July 19th to Aug 5th. It was clear every day. I think that we lucked out, as many people said that it had rained most of the pr..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Solstice cruise review - A great experience