Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

GenerationX

Members
  • Content Count

    230
  • Joined

Everything posted by GenerationX

  1. SIGH...good morning from Seattle. I suppose it was inevitable given our lack of family wealth and/or extreme gambling luck that we were going to have to get off the ship this morning. As is our tradition, Jeremy and I saved our free bottle of cheep champagne for the last morning and drank it as we did our final packing. When we stepped on the balcony this morning we remembered what city air smells/feels like. Captain Alex did a wonderful farewell morning announcement that had me with tears in my eyes. Our luggage tag number was called while we were eating our last breakfast in Blu and after one last round of hugs and thank you’s with the crew, we ripped the bandaid off and stepped out into the cruel cruel beverage package-less world. Captain Alex was on the gangway as we left thanking each passenger and wishing them safe travels. When he saw us he said “Oh my beautiful honeymooners! Thank you for sharing the start of your marriage with me! Enjoy every second of your life together because love is such a gift and come sail with me again soon!” Needless to say we’re now Captain Alex groupies! We just checked into our hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Seattle. It was about a $20 cab ride with tip from the pier. Jeremy and I and two other couples were the last people out of the martini bar last night (more on that later), so I’ve never been happier to hear my early check in request was granted. If not, my backup plan was to crash on a couch in the hotel lobby for a few hours. The front desk staff were very friendly and gave us a downtown map and circled all the points of interest and transportation options to get there. We’re about a 6 block walk to Pike Place and a short tram ride to the space needle. Our hotel room is huge and has a nice partial water view. The bathroom is bigger than our whole stateroom on the ship. After a morning nap I think I may send jeremy down to get me tea from the Starbucks in the lobby and spend an hour reading while soaking in the tub before we head out to explore! Tonight we have dinner reservations in a restaurant at Pike Place and then we may be meeting up with some of our new cruise friends who are also staying the night in town for live music, drinks and lamentations that no one has said “how are you Madam? Is there anything I can do for you?” to us for several hours. Still to come: reports on Ketchikan shore excursion, dinner in Tuscan Grille on sail away from Skagway, late nights on Solstice and general thoughts on our cruise.
  2. Thank you!!! Congratulations on your anniversary! We’ve said several times on this cruise how lucky we both are to have found a partner to share our life and travel adventures with. 💕
  3. I ask you: is there any sight sadder than suitcases with disembarkation tags on them sitting in a cruise ship hallway? Jeremy and I keep saying one of these years we should save enough money and vacation time to do a back to back. That way on this night at the end of leg one, we can walk the hallways and say to ourselves “not us, not today”. We’re gonna call it our “sucks for you” cruise. 😁 Jeremy is in port buying a few souvenirs and I’m headed down to get some cash from the ATM for extra tips for our favorite crew members, then we’re meeting for one last dinner in Blu then we will drown our disembarkation sorrows in a LOT of martinis. I’m happy to report though that this is NOT the end of my review as I still have a few catch up posts to do and we’ll be spending another night exploring in Seattle tomorrow. Good evening from a slightly forlorn GenerationX who is getting kicked off the Solstice tomorrow. 😭😭😭
  4. The Taking a step back in time to report on our fantastic day in Skagway. In this port we booked 2 tours with Celebrity: the white pass train ride in the morning then the Ben Fogle Great Adventures Chilkoot trail hike and rafting adventure. Our weather luck continued and it was completely clear and fog less for our train ride so we got great views of the Sawtooth Mountains, U.S.-Canada boarder, glaciers and the famous bridal veil falls. After the train, we grabbed a quick lunch of salmon dip and fish and chips at the Skagway Fish Co. restaurant near the ship. We washed lunch down with a local beer that’s actually brewed with Sitka Spruce tree bark and has a surprisingly delicious pine flavor. According to our guide, native Alaskans drank a similar brew as their version of a multi vitamin. After lunch, we headed out for what may have been the best shore excursion ever. For the hike and rafting trip, there were only 2 other younger couples: one from Solstice and one from Niew Amsterdam which was also in port that day, so it felt very intimate. Both other couples were also experienced hikers (in fact, the husband of the Niew Amsterdam couple had spent a month hiking in Nepal) which becomes important later. Our guide, Stu was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. The Chilkoot trail hike we did was the first 3.5 miles of the exact same 33 mile trail that the prospectors hiked into the Yukon during the gold rush. The views in the forest along the trail were spectacular! At this point I will stop and say that if you’ve never set foot on a hiking trail in your life, have any mobility issues whatsoever, or are not in decent aerobic/physical condition, this is NOT the excursion for you. This hike starts immediately with a steep climb in elevation and the first 1.5 miles is uphill, unpaved and rugged. There were multiple places where our guide had to instruct us on precisely where to put our feet and hands to safely navigate the terrain. Most of the trail is along a steep wooded rock face, so if you step wrong, it’s not a short tumble down and at best you’re going to the hospital for a few days. The trail is narrow, so the guide and other hikers can only give minimal if any assistance if you’re having trouble getting through a section on your own. For reference, the picture of Jeremy and I on the trail below is taken in the mildest sections of what we hiked. In fact, I don’t have many pictures from this hike because I really needed to focus on the trail and where I was stepping. That being said, for the able bodied and slightly adventurous, this was the best hike I’ve ever been on and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Our guide made sure to keep us on a pace that was comfortable for everyone and we made frequent stops to take in scenery and catch our breath. You REALLY feel the Alaskan wilderness on this hike in a way we didn’t in Juneau or Ketchikan. At the end of our hike, we boarded a raft and floated back down towards town on the glacier fed Taiya river. At one bend in the river a bald eagle hunting on the bank took off and flew right over us to perch on his nest in the trees!!! At the end of the float a small riverside snack was set up for us with chips and cookies from a local bakery as well as hot chocolate and tea to warm us up after being splashed with the glacier water. We got back to the ship with 15 minutes to spare before all aboard and it was the first time I really missed being in a suite. After that strenuous hike I really could have used a soak in a sky suite bath tub while the butler brought us champagne and canapés.
  5. Good afternoon from the pool deck! After a cool and cloudy morning the sun is out and the party around the pool is in full swing. Celebrity Life is doing several outdoor activities, including a poolside line dancing class. In spite of the busy deck, there are literally no drink servers that I can see. There are quite a few people in the outdoor pool, which is heated, but it’s still a little cool for my taste. I think I’ll stick to doing my swimming in the solarium and maybe a little hot tub outside. This afternoon Jeremy and I had coffee in al Bacio for a double set of music by Evergreen Duo in the lobby. These two have been our favorite entertainment onboard this cruise. After coffee we did a little souvenir shopping. We had to get our Solstice ornament for the Christmas tree (only 5 ships to go, and we’ll have sailed on/collected the entire Celebrity fleet! At least until Apex rolls out and puts us another ship behind). Then I went to passport bar for a glass of Pinot noir while Jeremy made one last go of the casino. We’ve decided to go hobbit-style for this last day of the cruise so we had a second lunch at the buffet extravaganza. Premium offerings included steak, lamb and ultra fresh salmon and halibut being sliced by the chefs and cooked right in front of you. I was sad to discover the lamb was over cooked and dry in most places but the salmon was great. I’ve noticed it’s been a running theme in the buffet this week that with the exception of the ham at breakfast, all the carvery meats have been a little over cooked.
  6. Good morning CC! We started our (late) morning today having a blueberry Red Bull and vodka at the mast bar while the two friends who betrayed jeremy last night (Seniors Patron y Don Julio) looked on. We just finished a mast grill lunch while the whale horn went off almost nonstop. In the past hour we’ve seen 2 large humpback pods and a pod of 5 or 6 orcas. We port in Victoria, B.C. today but interestingly we don’t arrive until after 5, so today is like a half sea day half port day. We’re on our way down to al Bacio now to have some coffee and dessert from the evil pastry case. Today’s schedule below.
  7. We started our fancy dress night with a cocktail made by our new best friend mixologist Sonja in the World Class Bar while listening to the strings duo then went to dinner in Blu. We got there a little after 8 and the restaurant was still pretty busy, but service was prompt and attentive. We had the same waiter (Eudel) and sommelier (Nik) we had on the first night and both remembered us and provided great suggestions for food and wine again. The tomato soup I had was so good but could have used twice as many of the tasty Asiago cheese croutons in it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I stole like half of my husband’s crab cake. The lobster and veal were also both great. On Eudel’s recommendation we also split the angus beef stuffed shells. My Italian husband who is a red sauce ubersnob ate 2 of these. For dessert we both had the baked Alaska. Jeremy loved it but I thought it was just ok. Jeremy had a score to settle with a slot machine so I posted up in the martini bar having an espresso martini and listening to the house band. After Jeremy returned we were joined by our new friends from Columbia for the second round. Soon we’ll head up to the sky lounge for the 70’s dance party! Cheers from a beautiful night on Solstice!
  8. After a busy afternoon of reading and drinking in the hot tubs, we’re getting dressed for our second evening chic night. Our buffet lunch today was just ok so we only picked at it and we’re eating a little late tonight, so we stopped by OVC on our way down to the room to make our own evening canapés. The canapés that are included with aqua class are now only delivered if you fill out a form (see below) and make sure someone is in the cabin to receive them. Far too much hassle for us! Besides, our chicken nacho bar, beef satay and shrimp ceviche that we found in the buffet were far better than any of the snacks we ever had delivered, with the exception of when we've sailed suite class and asked our butler to bring smoked salmon and cheese every afternoon. Pics of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens dressed in style to come!
  9. When we finally joined the world of the living this afternoon we had this invitation for a Blu kitchen tour on our door. I don’t remember being offered this in prior aqua class sailings. I wonder if this as well as the aqua class only glacier viewing set up are part of an effort by Celebrity to add more amenity value to the premium charged for aqua class (at what’s probably a relatively low cost to the company). I will say, it’s working for me. The price difference between aqua and concierge when we booked was a total of about $500 and I personally feel I’ve gotten that value in having Blu for a dining venue, the comfortable glacier viewing and a cabin location where I can access the solarium and aqua spa cafe in just a few steps and without having to go out in the Alaskan cold. Of course everyone’s cruise budget and spending priorities are different. In much less thrilling mail news, last night when we got back to the room our luggage tags and disembark instructions were waiting for us. COME ON CELEBRITY! There’s still TWO WHOLE NIGHTS left in my sailing! I’m NOT ready for a “go home!” conversation yet! YOU'RE KILLIN ME SMALLS!!!!
  10. Attempting to post more Juneau pics, including the delicious “Glaceritas” served at the bar on the whale watching boat and a short clip of the whale watching video I took. Someone let me know if the video works, please! DC96BECA-8F87-4D1A-9009-C33535CD417A.MOV
  11. Quick Update: my husband has given up on blackjack as an early retirement strategy (at least till after dinner) and has joined me by the pool. He’s drinking a rum punch that’s so strong that I’m pretty sure if he has another he could probably swim to British Columbia. Cheers friends!
  12. Greetings from the solarium! While Jeremy gambles away all our wedding gift cash so he can level up in Blue Chip status, lemme sip this Chandon and report on dinners in Blu. So far we’ve had two dinners in Blu and the food has been very good both times. I was very happy to see 2 of my favorites again: the corn veloute and the short rib! The lobster salad was very good too but our server warned us it was very small so we’d probably want to order a second starter each to go with it...the man was not wrong. On night 2, we arrived at around 7:45 (earlier than our usual dinner time, but we wanted to put some space between our consumption of mass quantities and dancing at the silent disco party). It was absolute chaos. There wasn’t a wait for a table, but hostess and manager were engaged in what looked like hardcore problem solving when we walked up to the host stand and we had to wait standing there for a few minutes before we got seated. It looked like maybe they were understaffed and all the servers were rushing around. The restaurant was very full and very loud. It felt like being in a mini version of the MDR. Not the relaxing Blu dining atmosphere we’re used to. It took almost 15 minutes before our server made it over to us and the sommelier didn’t come to take our drink order until the appetizer came. That being said, both our server and sommelier have been very friendly and gave wonderful food and wine recommendations. On night 4 when we went back to Blu for dinner, we arrived a little before 8:30 and it was a COMPLETELY different scene. Not crowded, quiet atmosphere, food and drink service very prompt. Moral of of the story: I recommend avoiding Blu during the peak 7-8pm dinner hour if you can in order to get the most out of the experience. We’ve never really tried the Blu cocktail menu so Jeremy’s drinking his way through it on this trip...you know, for the sake of the review. On night 2 he had the Garden Breezes and on night 4 he had the Nightfall Elixir. He said the garden breezes was slightly sweet and refreshing and went down easy. The Nightfall was more bitter and pretty strong so he nursed it in anticipation of our later antics at the martini bar. I’m gonna pop out to the pool bar now for a bubbly refill. Sidebar: there hasn’t really been any drink service in the solarium this cruise like there was in the Caribbean on Equinox and Silhouette, which seems like a miss since it’s cool outside and there’s a lot more people using the solarium pool and hot tub. Standing wet and shivering in the brisk Pacific air at the pool bar waiting for drink service is kinda brutal, but I have my priorities and I stand by them. More to come soon!
  13. Good morning from our last sea day! Well, actually it’s good afternoon to everyone else on the ship since it’s almost 1:15. But Jeremy and I are just getting out of bed. We heard the whale horn go off a couple of times this morning but I’m ashamed to admit we couldn’t bring ourselves to get out of bed and walk 4 steps to the veranda. Ah honeymoon! We’re in the buffet for a quick lunch then going to Brett Nixon’s presentation on killer whales. After that Jeremy plans to spend some quality time in the casino and I’ll be relaxing in the solarium and doing some catch up posts! Today’s schedule below.
  14. You’re very welcome Canuck! I fully support your decision to purchase helipad shoes. 😁 So for the first few nights there weren’t many deals offered for specialty dining and it wasn’t heavily hawked either but the last couple of days I’ve seen more pitches going on. Discounts haven’t been big though, at most $5-$10 per person off for individual specialty reservations and I haven’t seen anything about discounts on packages.
  15. Good news! I just confirmed that both Songpol and Sanja will still be on the ship next month.
  16. Thank you! Oh yes we’ve completely become Pavlov’s dog when the ships horn goes off. 😂
  17. This is research I will CHEERFULLY do! In fact we’re sitting in WCB having an after dinner drink right now (see pics below)! I must confess in all our celebrity cruises, I never discovered this bar till this sailing. We’re now addicted! Jeremy says the mojito here kicks the butt of every other mojito he’s ever had on a celebrity cruise. I’ll ask Songpol and Sanja how long they’ll be here. They’ve both been fantastic!
  18. Good morning from Skagway! I believe someone asked about a bag laundry special. They just started to offer it last night.
  19. Since I want to keep this review PG-13, I won’t get into specifics of why Jeremy and I missed our Juneau helipad sail in, but point of the story, we accidentally missed our helipad sail in. (We’re on our honeymoon don’t judge us!). Moving on: it was a FANTASTIC day in Juneau. We did the Whale Watching, Mendenhall Glacier and Wildlife Quest booked through Celebrity. We were VERY lucky in whale watching and were within a few yards of both a pod of orcas and a pod of humpbacks at different times over the course of the hour sailing. We also saw several sunning sea lions and nested eagles on the islands we passed on the way in and out. The boat was fully equipped with bathrooms, air conditioning on the lower deck and a snack stand and bar that took credit cards. The crew included a naturalist and two marine biology students from University of Alaska who gave fantastic information about the ecology of the area, were happy to questions and helped with spotting wildlife. I was so enthralled with the orcas I didn’t take pictures but Jeremy has some wonderful ones on his phone I’ll be sure to post. After the whale watching our tour bus took us to Tongass National Park at the foot of the Mendenhall glacier for an hour for self guided hikes. There were several different trails available ranging from a mild to moderate (depending on which trail splits you take) 2.5 mile hike to a glacier waterfall, which we did in full, to a much more intense hike for experienced hikers in strong physical condition above the waterfall to near the lip of the glacier and waterfall, which we started and enjoyed but quickly realized we had nowhere near enough time to finish before our bus to port returned. On the waterfall hike we took a more “off the tourist” path but still went right around the glacier lake and discovered bear tracks near the water and a Tern nesting area! If you’re interested in hiking the park, it’s definitely worth pricing car rentals and/or the different excursion options that include it (both cruise line and independent) because according to some hikers we met at the falls, a taxi from the cruise port to the park/trailhead can run $35 per person each way. Jeremy and I are very interested in coming back and just spending the day in Juneau doing the advanced hikes in the park (sidebar spoiler alert: we’re already in love with Alaska and want to cruise here in summer as much as we can without nosediving our credit score) and will probably price all other options vs that kind of absurd cab cost for a likely 15 minute ride or less. The waterfall hiking trail, while well cleared and for the most part decently gravel laid is a really good option for novice hikers. However it is probably NOT a good option for mobility challenged folks due to grade, water and elevation elements. I was told there are great views of the glacier and waterfalls from inside at the paved, ramp accessible park visitor center though. On the whole, my only critiques of the excursion were: 1) the heat on the bus (but I of course understand it probably doesn’t make much economic sense to put Hulk Smash AC on a bus in a town where it’s rarely hotter than 75 degrees) and 2) it would be great to have more time at the glacier park so that those who want to do more intense hiking trails have enough time for that option, especially considering Celebrity markets this tour as an active excursion. We just finished a wonderful dinner in Blu and are currently enjoying a couple of after dinner cocktails at World Class Bar while listening to the Evergreen Duo. Wifi on the ship is really slow tonight so I’ll upload more photos hopefully tomorrow in Skagway (because everyone REALLY needs to see this stuff!!! #lowkeynarcissim) and will catch up on Ketchikan and Blu dinners soon!
  20. My dear husband has decided to sleep away the sail to Juneau so, since I skipped my morning workout for the glacier watch, I decided to go swim some laps in the solarium then have a light lunch in the aqua spa cafe. Photos of the grab and go options and made to order menu are below. The chicken salad and fresh fruit were flavorful and not too filling. Something told me eating myself into a food coma just before hiking Mendenhall glacier would be a poor life choice. Going to read by the pool for a few more minutes then head back to drag Jeremy out of bed to attend our helipad sail in. Then we’ll head to port for our whale watching tour and glacier hike!
  21. Well it was bound to happen. This stateroom location under the fitness studio has come back to bite me. I’m desperate for a nap and I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of Zumba like class going on right above my head. Dang it, I know I packed earplugs somewhere...
  22. Canuck I’m with you on this one. I kind of get the flats requirement since there’s a few stairs and they don’t want anyone twisting an ankle, but the closed toe shoes is a complete mystery to me too. I’m planning to wear my hiking boots. Hopefully the officers won’t be too offended by my heavy clomping around the helipad.
  23. YOU GUYS! This morning may have been the most amazing cruising experience I’ve ever had: cruising up Endicott Arm! I can’t believe how lucky we’ve gotten with weather and sight seeing! The sun was out and we got to see multiple episodes of glacier calving as well as quite a few seals playing in the water! The fjord was so serene and the views were awe inspiring. The upper decks were packed with passengers but everyone was silent just staring at the scenery. It was like being in a massive outdoor cathedral! For aqua class, the forward balcony outside the fitness center was blocked off for us for glacier viewing and they gave us much needed blankets, hot chocolate and headphones so that we could listen to our naturalist’s live narration. Some of the icebergs we passed were HUGE! I give massive props to Captain Alex and his navigation crew for getting us in and out safely. In fact, it was announced that Captain Alex set a new record this morning for getting a Solstice class ship closest to the glacier! Brett Nixon our (fantastic) naturalist mentioned that he often visits this glacier in a kayak. As an avid kayaker, after seeing those bergs, I think I’ll stick to glacier viewing from a luxury cruise ship with Bloody Mary in hand! Some guests had an excursion to take a smaller ship even closer to the glacier. I don’t remember seeing it offered on the cruise planner because I definitely would have booked it. Maybe it was already sold out since we booked closer to sailing. After we left the glacier Jeremy and I went to the buffet for breakfast but it was a mad house trying to find seats, so we filled our plates with an international breakfast then took it down to eat on our veranda. We’re about to take a short nap (fjord and glacier viewing started at 6am) and then sit in the hot tub for a while before we arrive in Juneau for our whale watching tour this afternoon. Cheers from gorgeous Alaska! Photo overload below.
  24. Thank you for the recommendation! I’ve asked our Blu waiter to make us a Tuscan reservation and he promised to get us a window seat! 😁
×
×
  • Create New...