Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

Galaxy
by Zippy
Alaska
May 26, 2000

We booked our own air and hotel for four days in Vancouver BC before the cruise and had a wonderful time. We highly recommend doing this. We enjoyed the city of Vancouver BC. It is a beautiful city with fountains, trees and flowers everywhere. We enjoyed the following sites:

Stanley Park - a beautiful park with so much to see, from totem poles to rose gardens and much more. Truly a walkers paradise.

Grandville Island - a quaint place under the bridge, artisan shops and a farmers market.

Capilano Bridge - a suspension bridge that sways as you walk across. The bridge spans a very high gorge in North Vancouver.

Gastown - old Vancouver and very charming complete with a steam powered clock.

Shopping - on Robson Street some very nice shops and other shopping in malls that are mostly located underground in the city .

Architecture - city buildings with the juxtaposition of the old and new was poetry.

 

We stayed at the Renaissance Harborside Hotel on Hastings. It is a wonderful hotel and in a terrific location, we had a view of the harbor an even watched the ships arrive at Canada Place.

The people were very nice and the city very clean, mostly we walked but they have terrific mass transit and a ticket on one allows you to go on all. The bus - the sky train - the sea bus. It was wonderful and easy to use. The sky train is a subway downtown then becomes a monorail and the sea bus takes you from Vancouver to North Vancouver in 15 minutes.

As a note of interest if you are leaving Vancouver via air there is a fee of $10 C to exit. But when you see their airport you will be happy to pay, it is a wonderful, clean and beautiful airport.. Also be sure and exchange your US dollars for Canadian dollars at the airport ATM. The rates are good and there is better value to deal only in the money of the country that you are in. Although most places around Vancouver take US dollars it is done at a premium. I learned this when I wanted to make a purchase and a local shop owner wanted to charge me the same in US as Canadian dollars!

The Ship:
On the day of embarkation , everything went smoothly from the welcome aboard photo and being shown to our cabin by someone who has on white gloves. We were on the sky deck, cabin 1234 which was very roomy and had plenty of closet and drawers space. Our cabin attendant, Celestina was a gem. And the white terry robes are a nice touch.

The ship is clean and there seems to be activity always to maintain it that way.

The art work, in particular the sculptures, were incredible but the photos of people in masquerade costumes were enough to make one lose their lunch. I have no idea what Celebrity was thinking when they hung those albatrosses, possibly not thinking at all.

The Celebrity Theater was great, the layout allows for everyone to have a great seat. This area is well thought out. The shows were all enjoyable and the comedian Noodles still has me laughing. Just one little caveat, it would be nice if they mended the huge rip in the curtain - right in the middle about knee high - this should be repaired, it looks quite shabby.

There is a harpist on board, Collette, who we found very enjoyable on several evenings in the beautiful Stratosphere Lounge

Food:
The welcome buffet lunch in the Oasis Cafe was fabulous, and everything was yummy and they even had waiters to carry your tray to a table, of course with white gloves on, a very nice touch.

We did eat breakfast in the buffet on several mornings, but there were long lines for the omelet station. In the dinning room you could order your eggs cooked special and crisp bacon and hubby enjoyed the herring on several mornings. The fruit, hot and cold cereal and with various toppings were great along with some yogurt. Oh and stay away from the pastries, I think they forgot the salt in the cooking process. The sourdough and croissants were outstanding.

Lunch and Dinner in the Orion dinning room was overall really great and the deserts terrific. I would skip the swan thingie. Our Waiter Comilo and his assistant Lester would always go the extra mile.

Please note that on the entire ship, no one good or decent cup of coffee can be had. So take my advice and drink tea. Another area to note is the noise level in Dinning Room is so loud that it is actually painful. So my advice here is to take something for the headache you will get from the noise, before dinner so you can enjoy the rest of the evening.

Hubbard Glacier:
This is wonderful majestic ancient glacier, and I highly recommend getting out on deck to experience the serenity and sounds of the glacier which has incredible beauty. Also the wildlife of seals and there pups, humpback whales and of course the bald eagles. We had a wonderful Alaskan lecturer on board, Judy who was a teacher from Ketchican and always dressed in native attire. She was terrific, funny and very informative.

Juneau:
We booked a Mendenhall Glacier which is magnificent with a City Highlight and Douglas Island tour and a stopped at the Chapel by the lake. This tour we booked off the ship on the dock at a huge savings. It was nice and we had them drop us in town to do some shopping. We also stopped at the visitors center and a quick stop at the Red Dog Saloon. Nice shopping at Galligaskins and good buys at Juneau Shirt Company.

Skagway:
The city is charming with the wooden sidewalks and is 5 blocks wide and 18 blocks long. We booked the Kondike Summit Bus tour on the ship from our room and it was easy. This tour was great. We had a tour of the city and stopped for photos along the way and at the summit it was snowing - of course we tossed a few snowballs then took a photo at the "Welcome to Alaska" sigh. This was a very nice day and 1/3 the cost of the train which we could see from our outlook point. Our guide, Michelle was very nice and gave alot of inside stories. We then stopped in downtown Skagway for a hot cup of coffee - and the only great coffee of our trip and yummy pumpkin and peanut butter cookies at Mabel G. Smiths'. We than stopped at the National Visitors Park Service Center and viewed a program type movie narrated by Hal Holbrook about the trail and the train and the hardships of that time - a must see! Shopping values can be found at the Skagway Shirt Company and Richter's Jewelry & Curios.

Haines:
We booked the Land and Sea Tour on the ship and this was a wonderful trip. We were inside a warm catamaran piloted and crewed by 3 very capable women. We saw eagles, humpbacks whales with blowing spouts and a tail splash and a rookery of seals and their pups - about 300 of them all nestled on the rocks. After 2 hours, we were transferred to a bus for a tour of the Chilkat Valley, downtown Haines, Fort Seward and Picture point. This part of the trip was by a big bear of a man and he was very funny. Haines is a quaint city, and picture book beautiful. Be sure to make dinner arrangements if you take this tour.

Ketchican:
We had a beautiful day here - no rain. Nick-named the first city of Alaska. We went to the visitor center which is located on the dock and was given a walking map of the city. This was fun way to explore this city. We even popped into a local market to check out the cost of produce and found a head of lettuce was 99 cents. I thought that was good until hubby pointed out it was per pound. We stopped at Creek Street, the local red-light district of by gone days. Further on our walk we saw the salmon ladder and waterfalls, also stopped to view the totem poles. It was amazing to me how high the stairways to people homes are and almost straight up and very much like streets unto themselves. It was a very nice day. Lots of shopping here.

Returning to Vancouver through the Narrows made for a wonderful day, so much to see from both sides of the ship

Disembarkation:
Disembarkation was smooth and we did not book transportation to the Vancouver Airport from the ship, we took a taxi cab and shared the cost with another couple.

Final Impressions:
Alaska is costly, in regards to shore excursions, which are horrifically expensive but if you do your homework you don't have 'break the bank' to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Alaska.We enjoyed our trip and already surfing the web for another cruise destination................