Summer Cruising In Alaska

Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching ExcursionKiller Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

It’s summer time, so that means it’s a great time to cruise to Alaska.  Alaska is one of my favorite vacation destinations and I’ve been there in both summer and winter.   I went on the Celebrity Millennium cruise to Alaska. While this wasn’t my first trip to Alaska, it was my first cruise. I am a huge fan of Alaska, its scenery and wildlife.

ROOM: I found the rooms on the Celebrity Millennium to be old and in need of renovation. We upgraded to “Concierge Class” and the room still seemed a bit smaller than expected, the decor was outdated and the balcony had an obstructed view. The concierge service was great however. They were attentive and provided everything we needed during the trip. Room service was no additional fee in concierge class, though that might not be a benefit that’s around much longer. We never used room service because there were so many other things to do and see on and off the ship. There were two twin beds in the room that could be pushed together to form a double bed and a sofa with twin sized-bed. With the sofa bed open, getting to the balcony was a challenge, if not impossible. The bathroom is small, as expected, but the shower was even smaller than we expected.

FOOD: The main dining room offered an early and a late seating. The food was pretty good and there was a good variety on the menu. The meal was three courses and alcohol and soft drinks were additional. We were very pleased to learn that they matched us up at our table with people our age (this was great because the average age was about 60+). Lunches were not so good. There were two choices. The main buffet got boring very quickly. The grill was okay, but you can’t eat burgers and hotdogs every day! Breakfast was the best meal of the day in my opinion. They had a ton of choices and even though it was “buffet”, it never got boring. The best meal we had was in the specialty dining room, The Olympic. It was fabulous! I would eat there again! Drinks were very, very expensive. Drink packages are worth it if you drink a lot, otherwise, just pay for one or two and don’t look at the prices. The service in the specialty dining rooms was exceptional. Definitely worth the experience.

SPA: hotel spas are usually very expensive and so I expected a cruise ship spa to be expensive, however, this was way more than I anticipated. The quality of the spa services was average. I had a manicure and pedicure. The pedicure was nice and the technician did a good job. My manicure however, was not as good. I had a massage however, I was in a spa treatment room next to the gym, and had no peace or quite at all because I could hear all the music, machines and spin class going on. The technician felt awful, but couldn’t do anything. During land excursion days, the spa offered discounted services. That’s the way to go if you really want to experience the spa.

ENTERTAINMENT: I didn’t go to any of the “shows” they all sounded a bit cheesy to me. And the people who we at with at dinner did go confirmed my suspicion. They didn’t go back. The other onboard entertainers were okay, some were much better than others. There was a guitar player, who was good, but we went back a few times and he played the exact same songs, in the same order, with the same jokes both nights. Overall, entertainment was average. There was daily trivial pursuit, and it wasn’t well attended. There was a wine and food tasting one day that we attended. It was very good, and the sushi they served was excellent. However, it was an extremely popular event and very crowded. There were kitchen tours that were interesting and provided a very different view of the ship. There were other on-board activities, but the best option in my opinion was sitting on the deck watching for whales. There was a closing night dance party that started way too late for me to check out.

EXCURSIONS: EXPENSIVE! Since you can book these online in advance of the cruise, at least I knew how much they were going to cost. Cruising defiantly isn’t a cheap vacation. I learned a trick from the more experienced cruisers on board…book on your own excursions…don’t book through the cruise line. I opted for 3 whale watching cruise excursions that ranged from $250 – 350 dollars each. The whale watching was great. However, in almost every port, there were tour vendors set up offering the same tours at lower prices. I was incredibly lucky, I saw humpback whales and orca whales. It was an amazing treat. The port cities were mainly tourist traps, but since I’d been to several of them before, I knew some hidden gems that locals had told me about. I suggest doing some research and finding the off-the-beaten path restaurants and shops to make your experience more unique.

OVERALL: I would consider Celebrity again because the service was good. I love Alaska, and a cruise is a great way to see it. But I don’t think I’d do a second cruise to Alaska. I would prefer another land tour. If you cruise to Alaska, make sure you take some time to see Anchorage as well – it’s not typically part of the cruise itineraries, but you likely will fly out of there. It’s a great city (I’ve spent almost 3 weeks there on business) and worth a few extra days. The food is amazing and unique, the scenery is incredible and the museums offer amazing history and art experiences.

I didn’t end up with any pictures of the ship inside, so here are some images from Wikipedia and some of my own excursions photos

Glaciers

Glaciers

From the boat deck. Even in late July it got cold.

From the boat deck. Even in late July it got cold.

Sunset from Deck

Sunset from Deck

Sunset from Deck

Sunset from Deck

Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

Two Humpbacks try to save a seal near Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

Two Humpbacks try to save a seal near Killer Whale Pod on a Whale Watching Excursion

P1000220 P1000187 P1000237

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

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