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A semi-live trip report on 8/10/18 Solstice to Alaska that was almost a golf trip to

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I’m going to do my best at a trip report to capture our cruise to Alaska on the Solstice. If you’re wondering about the title, we were originally booked on the Eclipse sailing to the British Isles during the Open. My husband is an avid golfer, me not so much, but I love my husband, and so we were booked.

We’ve cruised a fair amount, and always on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. I’m the planner, and my husband is perfectly happy with that. I started researching golf excursions, attending the British Open, and realized that my husband would be happier (and would get more golf in)taking a land based trip to Scotland. His request? Scratch the Eclipse, and switch to a cruise to Alaska.

Alaska? I love sun, warmth, beaches, sand...but, I love my husband, so Alaska on the Solstice was booked. Enter my dear mother, who heard me talking about a cruise to Alaska. “Can I go?”, she asked. What could I possibly say to the almost 85 year old woman who had raised me and my six siblings? “My mom is coming with us to Alaska”, I told my husband. So, a cruise to the British Isles filled with golf became a cruise to Alaska with his almost 85 year old mother in law. Traveling in the same cabin. My husband loves me (Rachel Maddow concurs, but that’s a story for another day).

A few things about my mom- yes, she raised 7 kids, yes, she is almost 85, and will be celebrating her birthday on the cruise. We lost my dad almost 2 years ago, and Alaska was on their list of places to visit next. She is also not your typical almost 85 year old:

83524fe100874caba0a9449783822927.jpg

 

Next up, planning, more planning, and packing lists

 

 

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We're on the ship the week after you...originally planned on taking our 20something boys, but instead now going w/ our 70 something parents. I look forward to following your review!

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We're on the ship the week after you...originally planned on taking our 20something boys, but instead now going w/ our 70 something parents. I look forward to following your review!

 

 

 

Isn’t it funny how you start to plan one thing and end up planning something different! Right now I’m in the process of putting sundresses in my suitcase and then taking them out because, well, Alaska.

 

 

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Looking forward to reading your live report as well as any pictures you're able to post. We did the Solstice to Alaska a few years back in September, last one of the season. Try and take in one of the sessions with naturalist Brent Nixon as well as the ones by his wife, Miss Amanda. Very funny but informative as well. Although we had a great trip and would love to return for another Alaska cruise it's really hard to convince our friends and family that an Alaskan cruise is so great...we have winter here for 8 months of the year so most would rather take their vacation somewhere warmer with beaches...sigh

 

Have a great trip!!

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This is the itinerary I’ve planned so far:

1 1/2 days in Seattle at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, early access tour of Pike Place Market

Ketchikan on our own

Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer booked through Celebrity

Bennett Train Journey on White Pass Rail

Butchart Garden excursion booked through Celebrity

When I started planning for Alaska I didn’t realize how much advance planning is needed. Thanks to CC I learned about the excursion off the ship, the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Excursion. I soon learned how expensive excursions in Alaska were. Yowza! OBC was used up immediately by booking this excursion for the 3 of us.

 

 

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Following. My wife and I are taking our first Celebrity cruise and first Alaskan cruise next spring for our 25th. Thanks for taking time out of your vacation!

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Looking forward to reading your live report as well as any pictures you're able to post. We did the Solstice to Alaska a few years back in September, last one of the season. Try and take in one of the sessions with naturalist Brent Nixon as well as the ones by his wife, Miss Amanda. Very funny but informative as well. Although we had a great trip and would love to return for another Alaska cruise it's really hard to convince our friends and family that an Alaskan cruise is so great...we have winter here for 8 months of the year so most would rather take their vacation somewhere warmer with beaches...sigh

 

 

 

Have a great trip!!

 

 

 

Thank you! Yes, I’ve heard all about Brent, and I’m looking forward to hearing his talks.

 

 

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I’ve only booked pre-cruise hotels through the cruise line once, when we stayed in Rome prior to our cruise on the Reflection. That hotel turned out to be great, the transfers from the airport to the hotel and hotel to the pier were not so great. My only experience with Seattle was for a conference, and I stayed in one of the hotels near the airport. This trip is all about giving the birthday girl an extravaganza, so I looked into what pre-cruise hotels were available. The Fairmont Olympic looked like it would be perfect for this trip, so I booked two nights pre-cruise knowing that flying from the east coast would make the first day a wash.

 

 

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A little more background on us. We usually book a GS when we sail Royal, and a CS when we sail Celebrity. I went back and forth on two cabins for the three of us vs. one cabin. Two words kept creeping back into my head: Birthday Girl. Remember, this trip went from a cruise with golf for my husband to a cruise with my mother in law to Alaska to celebrate her birthday. The RS it is (my husband loves me, and he’s a saint).

 

For those wondering, yes, we were contacted by the concierge. I was surprised by how far in advance, which was close to 3 weeks. We were asked what our choice of liquor was for the two bottles we would be given as well as what we would like the fridge stocked with. This is the list to choose from:

Beefeater Gin

Bombay Sapphire Gin

Hendricks Gin

Tanqueray Ten Gin

Chivas Regal 12 Year Scotch

Glenfiddich Select Cask Scotch

Johnnie Walker Black Scotch

Belvedere Vodka

Absolut Vodka

Grey Goose Vodka

Ketel One Vodka

Tito’s Vodka

Tequila Patron Silver

Jose Cuervo Gold

Jack Daniels Black Bourbon

Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey

Makers Mark

Jack Daniels

Jim Beam

Crown Royal

Seagram 7

Bacardi Oak Heart Spiced Rum

Bacardi Silver Rum

Captain Morgan Rum

Bacardi Coconut Rum

Zacapa Rum

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Kahlua

Disaronno

 

Next, choose any combination of beverages for your minibar:

 

Premium bottled purified water

Vitamin Water

Red Bull

Tonic Water

Club Soda

San Pellegrino

Perrier

Coca Cola Products (Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite Zero, Ginger ale)

Red Bull

Sugar-Free Red Bull

Bud Light

Budweiser

Coors Lite

Miller Lite

Heineken Light

Heineken

Corona

Corona Light

Blue Moon

Red Stripe

Sam Adams

Dos Equis

Guinness Stout

Newcastle Ale

Stella Artois

Sierra Nevada

 

We were also asked our estimated arrival time as well as any specialty dining reservations. I made one for Murano, but wanted to wait until I saw the Luminae menus for the week before I made a second reservation, which will be at Tucson Grille. The concierge let me know about an expedited luggage program for RS and PS passengers, details in the next post

 

 

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I'll be on this cruise the week after you. Have the Tracy Arm Excursion booked. Can you let me know how cold the boat trip was for that. Also have the Butchart Gardens Trip planned thru the cruise line and wondering how much time you actually get to spend there and if it is worth it? Thinking of possibly cancelling this.

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I'll be on this cruise the week after you. Have the Tracy Arm Excursion booked. Can you let me know how cold the boat trip was for that. Also have the Butchart Gardens Trip planned thru the cruise line and wondering how much time you actually get to spend there and if it is worth it? Thinking of possibly cancelling this.

 

 

 

Right now I’ve packed for just about every kind of weather, but will post updates on what we actually ended up wearing.

 

 

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The shoreside concierge let me know that there is a new expedited luggage program for PH and RS passengers. I was instructed to look for a sign marked Special Delivery in the area of baggage drop off at the pier. PH and RS passengers will be met by a Celebrity staff member who will take care of any luggage and expedite it to cabins. These passengers will then be escorted to the Suite Priority Check-in, and then to Michael’s Club. The information stated that this program was for PH and RS only. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.

 

 

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We've been to Alaska 3 times on Millennium. Interested in your experiences sailing out of Seattle. Also how well the Special Delivery for luggage works. Enjoy your cruise, your MIL will have a great birthday on board.

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There are many examples of packing lists online for Alaskan cruises, and most of them tell you to plan for any kind of weather. A waterproof rain jacket, smooshable winter coat, and water repellent sneakers are included in our luggage as well as some layers for when we are on excursions.

26a01105e0ae9df9c7a8b4990b0877cc.jpg

This is a product from a company called Rume, and it not only holds quite a bit, but it is great when I’m traveling for just a few days as it’s easy to unpack and pack back up. There’s a loop at the top so you can hang it up.

 

 

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Oh man! I am digging that R2D2 suitcase!

 

 

 

Thanks! I have the larger one also. My favorite thing is when baggage handlers say to me, “Is this the droid you’ve been looking for?”

 

 

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24 hours to go! Some more pre-cruise planning info- I received not one, not two, but three MoveUp emails from Celebrity. They came to my email but were addressed to my mom, who has never sailed on Celebrity. After the third one I figured, why not. I submitted a bid a week ago to MoveUp from a RS to a PH. The confirmation of my MoveUp bid came immediately, but I haven’t heard yet whether the bid was rejected or accepted. Still waiting Celebrity...

I use a TA who let me know that we’re eligible for a complimentary excursion through Distinctive Voyages. The only problem is our excursions were booked months ago. There is also a complimentary cocktail party onboard, which we’ll attend if we can.

So, for any Seattle natives, our plans for the next two days are to

1) Recover from an early wake up and long day of flying

2) Walk to the Purple Cafe and enjoy some wine

3) Enjoy a guided tour of Pike Market early Thursday

4) Aquarium, Space Needle, anything else?

 

 

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24 hours to go! Some more pre-cruise planning info- I received not one, not two, but three MoveUp emails from Celebrity. They came to my email but were addressed to my mom, who has never sailed on Celebrity. After the third one I figured, why not. I submitted a bid a week ago to MoveUp from a RS to a PH. The confirmation of my MoveUp bid came immediately, but I haven’t heard yet whether the bid was rejected or accepted. Still waiting Celebrity...

I use a TA who let me know that we’re eligible for a complimentary excursion through Distinctive Voyages. The only problem is our excursions were booked months ago. There is also a complimentary cocktail party onboard, which we’ll attend if we can.

So, for any Seattle natives, our plans for the next two days are to

1) Recover from an early wake up and long day of flying

2) Walk to the Purple Cafe and enjoy some wine

3) Enjoy a guided tour of Pike Market early Thursday

4) Aquarium, Space Needle, anything else?

 

 

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Just a quick "anything else". We'll be in Seattle for a couple of days also. Told that the Chihuly Gardens are fabulous. Located right near the Space Needle. The Purple Cafe was also recommended as a thing to do in Seattle by our local paper. Also, found this http://seattlefreewalkingtours.org/

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So, for any Seattle natives, our plans for the next two days are to

1) Recover from an early wake up and long day of flying

2) Walk to the Purple Cafe and enjoy some wine

3) Enjoy a guided tour of Pike Market early Thursday

4) Aquarium, Space Needle, anything else?

 

I live in Seattle! The weather here will be "good" this week - too hot and sunny for us, but good for visitors. Everyone is excited for fall to return!

 

If you're into beer, make sure you go to Cloudburst near the north end of the Market. It's one of the best breweries in the area.

 

The Space Needle just reopened part of its visitor center, so good timing.

 

Do you need restaurant recommendations?

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We just returned from Seattle.

For me, number one was the Chihuly exhibit. Delightful. Second was market. Also enjoyed ferry to Bainsbridge island.

Favourite restaurants, Petra, Etta's and Matt's (3)

 

Have fun!

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I live in Seattle! The weather here will be "good" this week - too hot and sunny for us, but good for visitors. Everyone is excited for fall to return!

 

 

 

If you're into beer, make sure you go to Cloudburst near the north end of the Market. It's one of the best breweries in the area.

 

 

 

The Space Needle just reopened part of its visitor center, so good timing.

 

 

 

Do you need restaurant recommendations?

 

 

 

Thank you! I’m still looking for a lunch place for Thursday afternoon, any suggestions? I’d like to stay pretty close to wear we’re staying.

 

 

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Thank you! I’m still looking for a lunch place for Thursday afternoon, any suggestions? I’d like to stay pretty close to wear we’re staying.

 

 

Hmm, your hotel is a little bit in what I think of as a dead zone for good restaurants within a couple blocks, especially lunch. So some of these are a few blocks further.

 

A few options:

 

Cortina - Ethan Stowell is my husband's and my favorite local chef, he's miles above Tom Douglas

Lecosho

Umma's Lunch - a by-the-pound casual Korean place, popular with the office workers

Din Tai Fung - excellent Taiwanese dim sum chain

The Pink Door - a great classic, if you can get a reservation

 

The Athenian's back bar (in the Market) is our secret locals space, but I'm giving the secret away. ;)

 

Pike Place Chowder is very good but the lines aren't worth it, we usually wait and go after cruise season.

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So as the saying goes, the best laid plans..

I had set my alarm on my phone for 3 am, turned the volume up just to make sure, and I hear a ping...

Push notification from United that our flight to Seattle was cancelled ☹️

I got on the phone to United, and luckily got a good agent, who at first told me United had rebooked us, but no longer leaving on Wednesday, leaving on Thursday instead ☹️

...

I let the agent know I was taking my mom on a trip to Alaska for her 85th birthday, and she paused and said, “let me see what I can do”.

She was able to get us seats on another carrier, leaving later in the day, so not getting in to Seattle until dinner time. Although we lose an afternoon in Seattle, I’m looking on the bright side, my alarm is no longer set for 3 am, and we’ll miss the early morning craziness at the airport.

 

 

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Oooh looking forward to this! We just sailed the Explorer (2nd year in a row) so decided to do the Solstice for next year. We live in the Seattle area so we like not having to fly to cruise. It's been about 5 years since I sailed celebrity so I need a refresher!

 

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