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Dorothy July 1st, 2004 09:39 PM

Review Mercury - Alaska June 18th Sailing
Mercury to Alaska Cruise
Sailing June 18 – 25, 2004

We have sailed on other cruise lines and had heard that Celebrity had a slight edge over our favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean. Because we love Royal, it caught our interest and we felt we couldn’t go wrong since they are owned by the same company. Hopefully, this review will be helpful to others who are currently making comparisons.

Embarkation – Although, our docs said embarkation would begin at 1:00pm, we decided to chance arriving early in hopes that we might be at the head of the line or if lucky, get onboard early. We got to the terminal at noon and we were onboard in about 30-40 minutes. We had completed our personal info online for our docs, so perhaps that helped a little in the speed of the processing.

Food – I had read on the cruise board many different opinions on the quality of the food. I can honestly give two thumbs up in this department. The breakfast buffet was excellent. You can find all of the following each morning: Scrambled eggs, corned beef hash, sausage, bacon, grits, oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, toast, cold cereal, fresh fruit, fish and fresh baked pastries. There is an omelet bar. There was a waffle bar that was the best waffles I ever had. Breakfast in the dinning room offered all of the same, but you had to wait order and wait for your breakfast to be served. Lunch was very good too. Each day carried a different National theme. I enjoyed all, but the Italian food. Sorry, but my lasagna and chicken cacciatore is better. Dinner in the dinning room was excellent. No one in our party was ever disappointed. Everything from Appetizers to Desserts was fantastic. We tried the sushi one evening and that too, was excellent. I am of Japanese decent and I grew up eating sushi, so I can honestly say that it is very good.

Service – Nothing was lacking in this area. I understand that the cabin stewards were told to never be seen. I wish that the cruise line would stop this. Because of this rule, we rarely saw our cabin steward and that made it difficult to make requests. Our steward’s name was Blasido and he did a great job. Having a couple of teenagers in the cabin (sleeping in) has made it a challenge for previous cabin stewards to get in to tidy the cabin, but not Blasido. He was always able to get in to make our cabin each day before lunch. Once again, I hope they will allow the cabin steward to be more visible, whenever we did get a chance to talk; it was always pleasant and allowed us to be friendlier with Blasido. There are so many cocktail servers in the lounges; you never have to wait a moment to be asked if you would like a drink. Our Waiter, Saby and Asst. Waiter Gede were excellent. They always had a smile on their faces and Gede would remember that I enjoyed the Celebrity Dressing and would bring some for me even when it wasn’t on the menu. Saby would wait till the end of dinner and then he’d loosen up a bit and tell us some stories. He was a delight. All the crew onboard the ship, were courteous and professional, even when they would encounter a disgruntled guest. One morning, an irate woman started yelling at the waffle makers. She became upset that they spoke to the husband first. She felt she was being disrespected because she wasn’t addressed first. This was totally absurd and the poor waffle makers looked surprised and bewildered at the woman’s anger. I think the only thing the woman accomplished was to make a spectacle of herself. Onto others, our Sommelier’s name was Alexandre. He is French and although, I hadn’t spoken in years, he had great patience with me and I think he may have been pleased that someone was attempting to speak with him in his native language. I have only good thoughts about Alexander, he was sweet. Winnie Hung is the new Social Hostess. This was her first sailing onboard the Mercury. She is very good at making herself available to the public onboard and getting acquainted. When she heard it was our anniversary, she sent us a bottle of champagne to our cabin. We saw her throughout the cruise and happily as we were disembarking, so we had a chance to thank her and wish her well.

Accommodations – Our cabin was a family cabin at the rear of the ship. The cabin was very roomy with plenty of storage space. My husband and I had a double bed and there was a partition to separate the sitting room, which housed 3 more twin beds. There was a shower that was much roomier than on any other ship I’ve sailed. It was nice to be able to move around without bumping around against the walls. Amenities included shampoo in a dispenser in the shower and a dispenser in the bathroom that had hand & body lotion. There were shower caps and bar soaps also. There was a hairdryer on the wall. There is a deck directly behind these family cabins, which made for a semi-private deck. This was a big plus. Now for the negative, the thrusters are at this end of the ship and whenever they were used for starting up or slowing down or turning, it was like a 2.0 – 3.0 earthquake. This was not a problem for us because we used to live on the Hayward fault line in Calif. and we just laughed about it feeling like home. The only time that it bothered me was the very last night of the cruise. We turned in early that night because we had a 10-hour drive the next day and we wanted to be fresh for our drive home. At about 9:00pm the last night, we were on the semi-private deck for a last glimpse and we were passing Vancouver Island. I felt that it was strange that we were so close to Seattle and yet it was going to take until the next morning to our dock. Well, they ran the ship extra slow, which I guess meant they used the thrusters??? 3.0 earthquake ALL NIGHT LONG!! None of us got a wink of sleep the entire night. Next time, I will get a balcony midship. I learned my lesson.

Ports of Call – We opted not to take excursions, but we did enjoy the towns that we stopped in. This particular week, Alaska was experiencing unusually warm weather in the high 80’s and low 90’s. I was not prepared and had mostly winter clothes. But regardless of being uncomfortable in my clothes, I had a wonderful time wandering around in each port. Juneau was probably the least liked because there wasn’t anything to the town except shopping along one main street. Skagway was like an old western town except that it was fresh looking and brightly painted. This is where we found our best shopping. Ketchikan was my favorite. It is such a charming town and much of it was built up on piliers like in Venice. There is a walking path (built above ground) where you will find Dolly’s House. While walking along this path, it seemed at times like it was built alongside a rainforest and we could hear animals talking beyond the shrubbery. I don’t know what kind of animals, but it sounded like we were in Jurassic Park. LOL. Hubbard Glacier was the highlight of the trip and THAT is what I went to Alaska to see. I was not disappointed and stood in the freezing cold (yes, this part of the trip, I could use my winter clothes) in awe, as the Glacier was so beautiful under a clear blue sky. It was calving and each time the ice fell, it sounded like thunder. Wildlife abounded throughout this cruise; we saw many whales (I brought binoculars and that helped for close ups), dolphins, seals and bald eagles.

Mercury – The ship is 7 years old, but you can see that it is being well maintained and did not feel old to me. I was disappointed that there was not a deck to walk completely around the ship on. The sports deck above was too short and we have always enjoyed walking around decks to burn off the extra calories. The gym was not very large. There were some treadmills, weight machines, bicycles and free weights. I got a facial my first evening there at the spa, but I was not happy with it. I’ve had better facials and whatever was used on my face made my skin breakout. The thalassotheraply pool looked inviting, but I did not want to pay to use it. I thought that should have been free. Because this ship only carried 2,000 passengers, it never seemed overcrowded and lines were minimal.

Entertainment – I think that RCCL is still a little better in this area, but Celebrity is no slouch either. A Touch of Broadway was so good; they Celebrity Singers and Dancers received a well-deserved standing ovation. There was a piano singer at the Atrium most evenings and he sounded much like Sinatra. I believe his name was Jason Richards?? There was a band called Axis in the Pavillion lounge and I loved the lead singers voice. He was amazing.

Disembarkation – They really have this down. The last night, there is a note on the door to the cabin. This tells you which public area to report to and when. We were able to go back to the cabin and catch a nap (much needed) before having to report and once we did report, we were called within 10 minutes. Once we got to the baggage claim, we found our bags immediately and were in a taxi in a couple minutes.

Overall, this is by far the most enjoyable cruise ever. I have also concluded that we will only sail Celebrity or RCCL.

Dorothy July 1st, 2004 09:40 PM

To my fellow message board posters
I wrote the above review to help counteract the bad ones on the review board. I submitted this review and hopefully they will add it on.

cruisinjudy July 1st, 2004 10:06 PM

Thanks, Dorothy, great review! We were just on Mercury to Alaksa in May. We were also in a family cabin and had Blasido as our steward. We actually saw quite a bit of him. He seemed to pop out of other rooms he was cleaning to say hello.
We had one bad day with the thrusters. We tendered into Icy Point and they ran all day, I guess to maintain our position. My husband was feeling ill that day, so the noise and vibrations were bothersome, but they never bothered us at night.

Boo's Mom July 2nd, 2004 12:18 AM

Great Reveiw, Dorothy!

I sailed the Mercury one year reading your review allowed me to skip down memory lane!

She is a fine ship....with first class management!


RM July 2nd, 2004 12:34 AM

Thanks for the review. You can't please all the people all the time. Glad you wrote a nice one.

dam1050 July 2nd, 2004 04:23 AM

Thanks Dorothy for sharing your great review. I'm sailing on Mercury for the first time next winter so it's great to hear some good reviews beforehand.
Like you I've sailed more on RCI, but having been on the Infinity as well I know I love the feel of both lines!


CJHouston July 2nd, 2004 01:29 PM

Are these thrusters only located on the rear of the ship? We are very near the front of the ship, and I am wondering if you have the same experience.

Dorothy July 3rd, 2004 11:40 AM

Hi CJ,

I'm not an expert on thrusters, but I believe they are at the back because that is what helps to propell the ship and manuever it from side to side, etc. I have, however, been at the front of a ship before and did experience the anchor coming down in the mornings when docking. This wasn't bad at all, because we were usually up by then.

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