May 6, 2005
This is our second year in a row on the Summit and this particular itinerary. My parents who are in their mid-eighties went with us. We love this itinerary:14 nights - San Diego, Catalina, San Francisco, Seattle, Victoria, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Ketchikan, Inside Passage and Vancouver. It's the Summit's repo cruise from the Caribbean.
We boarded the Summit in San Diego at 11:15 AM May 6th....embarkation was very smooth, took maybe 10 minutes. The staff handed out Champagne and Mimosas upon boarding. We took our own tour of the ship as we couldn't get into our staterooms until about 1 PM. Went to the Waterfall Grill Bar which is Deck 10 aft since it has a nice deck to view the city of San Diego. At noon the buffet lunch was offered and of course we took advantage. Food was good as usual, with a very nice assortment of fruit and desserts too. The ship is still very clean, but could use new furniture in some of the public rooms. We went to see what they did to Revelations....you probably have already read my post on that, so I won't go into it too much. Just know that they have ruined the best room on the ship in our opinion. We got into our staterooms after lunch. We had Concierge Class staterooms, my parents were on Deck 8 mid ship and we were on Deck 7 aft. Our (overweight) luggage was there waiting for us, as well as fresh flowers, champagne, fruit basket and extra thick robes. The veranda had a large table and cushioned chairs as promised...we really liked that part as we enjoy breakfast out there. After we unpacked we went up to the Spa so I could book a "Couples Massage" for my husband and me, and hair styling for me and my Mom for our (3) formal nights. Hair styles are reasonably priced starting at $33.00 and there are specials on massages throughout the cruise. The indoor T-Pool is wonderful and set aside for adults 18 and over.
Public Rooms/Lounges: All still very nice except for some of the chairs are getting threadbare that should be replaced. Staff is very attentive but not pushing drinks (they only ask you once). Revelations has been ruined due to Cirque du Soleil. Views have been lost and the room is dark and depressing. Originally they planned to keep it closed during the day...probably should have as it is dysfunctional now for viewing glaciers and Alaskan scenery. The forward outside Deck 11 allows you to take the stairs for the panoramic views that we once had indoors. Must be warmly dressed out there for this itinerary. But a great place to be when entering ports. Got some of our best pics there. Deck 10 Aft at the Waterfall Bar is the place to be for leaving port...lots of large tables.
Staterooms are very comfortable, but then I can only comment on ours. Concierge Class is 191 sq. ft. with plenty of storage and a good sized bathroom. Shower is roomy and has an upgraded shower head. I take a shoe bag on cruises to hang inside the bathroom door...gives us all that extra shelf space. There are two hair dryers, one is mounted and the other is an upgrade that is stored under the sink. Thick towels that are changed out twice a day, or whenever needed.Bed is excellent with lots of pillows..we requested down pillows. Slept like babies even during rough seas. There's plenty of room under the bed for luggage storage and very roomy closet, drawer space and a safe to store your valuables. The veranda is roomy and comfortable even with the four of us hanging out watching the sunsets and beautiful scenery.
Service is where I think Celebrity is the cut above most other cruise lines. Our cabin attendant and his assistant were always on the ball...room kept immaculate. Room service was always prompt with a phone call letting you know that breakfast was on it's way. We had lots of breakfasts on our veranda. Table would be set with linens and flowers for each meal we had there. Also got a fresh flower in our bathroom everyday. These little touches make the cruise that much more special. We also had ca napes' delivered to our room before dinner each evening. Service in the Cosmopolitan was also outstanding. Wait staff and Maitre 'de were the best you could ask for. Can't think of much that they could improve on.
Shore Excursions: We purchased four excursions through Celebrity. Victoria Craigdarroch Castle and Empress Hotel High Tea, Juneau Whale Watching and Orcas Point Lodge, Misty Fjords Cruise and Flight, and because we had a later flight out of Vancouver we booked the Vancouver Highlights tour. The Victoria tour was a mistake, very expensive at $90.00 pp and something we could have done on our own at 1/3 the price. Better off taking a cab to downtown for $6.00 for all four of us and then just walk around...it's a gorgeous little town. The Empress Hotel is right there and you can have the high tea on your own. Juneau tour was nice, saw Humpback whales, otters and lots of beautiful scenery on our way to Orca Point Lodge. We were served a very nice meal that included coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob, rice pilaf, and really, really good barbequed wild salmon. They have a wonderful homemade grilling sauce that is delicious. Also topped it off with yummy carrot cake. The boat they take you out in is warm smooth and comfortable with lots of large windows and two heads (bathrooms). The Misty Fjords National Monument is one of our favorites although pretty pricey, to us well worth it. This year we did the reverse itinerary, we took the 3 hour boat tour (which seems to go really fast) into the Fjords and flew back to Ketchikan on the floatplane. We encountered the most Humpbacks and Orcas we have ever seen, plus lots of otters, Bald Eagles and a huge cinnamon-colored brown bear (grizzly) feeding at the base of one of the many streams that fall into the Fjords. I actually was the one that spotted the bear first. I had seen one last year on this same tour, but the crew couldn't believe we were so lucky to see this much wildlife so early in the year. The boat is very comfortable with lots of windows on two decks, they serve clam chowder, salmon salad, chips and dips, crackers, cheeses and cookies with plenty of sodas, coffee and hot chocolate. It is a spectacular trip that I recommend for everyone. Your fear of small planes goes away when you're viewing the spectacular 3000' waterfalls and the Fjords. It's lovely. Our Vancouver tour was messed up to our getting through customs too late..that was the worst part of the 14 night cruise.
Debarkation Not sure what went wrong this year. Reason could be because of the fact there were three large ships arriving all at the same exact time (7:00 AM). It was the worst we have encountered, even worse than in Barcelona trying to catch a cab. Took over an hour to get through customs, then had to stand in line another hour for our 9:30 AM tour bus that we finally boarded at 11:45. We should have been first off to catch our tour, but it didn't happen. Lots of rude people shoving themselves up into front of line, it was not good. I thought they were going to stampede over my elderly parents a couple of times. Anyway the tour bus ended up taking us straight to airport because they had afternoon tours to do. We got to the airport at 12:15 for our 5 PM flight that ran late. Flew to Seattle for a 2 hour layover, then got in to San Diego at almost 11:30 PM. LONG day. These flights were arranged by Celebrity...we saved about $200.00 per couple..think we'll do our own next time.
One other item that I did not mention. We rented a car for $85.00 from Avis in Skagway since we had all done the Whitepass Railway tour. We drove north across the border to the Yukon, Carcross and Emerald Lake. It was fantastic. Scenery was outstanding and so was the weather. We drove along side of the railway until we reached White Pass, then drove along beautiful lakes and mountains into the north. We stopped so much for pictures that it took awhile to get there. I think it is about 80 miles one way. We did meet a Gray Wolf which we got a good photo of, on the way back saw him again...a Royal Canadian Mountain Policeman was trying to coax him off the road. We think somebody has been feeding that wolf----very bad idea.