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friendswithdave

Review of Eclipse to Alaska in late August

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Hello All,

 

Our family of six just finished a round-trip cruise to Alaska out of Vancouver on the Celebrity Eclipse. I have enjoyed reading others' trip reports so I thought I would share my own. I'm no Jack London, but I hope you'll get something out of this.

 

Our family is me 49, wife 51, my dad 78, her parents 83 and 88, and my son 18. We have been on 8-10 cruises, her parents have been on just one to the Caribbean last December. 

 

CRUISE DAY -1 - We picked up mom and met her parents at the airport. We got there early and had issues checking in because we were taking a different airline out versus the one back. They were concerned we were going to Vancouver and not ever coming back, so that delayed our check-in. By the time we finished check-in the security line had grown to epic proportions. We didn't originally ask for a wheelchair for mom who walks with a walker since security line was so short. However, we were able to get one for her later so half of us were able to zoom through the long line. Anyway, we boarded the 7:25 AM flight as soon as we got to the gate. A little more stress than we needed to start our day, but we didn't let it get us down.

 

The flight to LA with Delta was great. Love the seat back entertainment with TV, movies, and music. Made the 5 hour flight feel much shorter. When we got to LA we met my brother in law who planned to spen the next 30 hours with us - all our time just prior to the cruise. He hoped to cruise with us but things didn't work out work-wise. Our flight to Vancouver left about an hour late because of various issues, but that didn't get us down.

 

Love the Vancouver airport. Very organized and efficient. BIL went to get our rental car - a huge SUV - and we made our way through customs and baggage claim with help of a cart to get the parents through the airport without too much walking. We underestimated how much space we would need for the 7 of us plus our luggage. It took some packing miracles including me and son in the 3rd row seat with 4-5 bags on top of us and mom's walker across the second row passengers. It looked like a real CF in the pick-up area as we wedged all our people and things in the SUV - but we did it.

 

We went to our B&B, Windsor House, and dropped everyone except BIL who went to his B&B nearby. We unloaded then found a place downtown for dinner recommended by a friend of BIL - Moxies. Service and food were great except for the first 10 minutes when they completely ignored us despite not being too busy. Once we got their attention they gave us some free apps and great food and service the rest of the evening. After that we were tired and went to bed after a long day of travel. Windsor House was very nice. We had a third-floor room. There was no AC but with the window open it was completely fine. The street was very quiet and we slept well. 

 

Next is Day 0 - highlights of Vancouver and late embarkation!

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Look forward to reading your review. My friend and I have booked this cruise for next June. We are flying from Edinburgh and spending 3 nights in Vancouver prior to the cruise. We spent 2 nights in Vancouver last year prior to a Pacific coastal cruise and really enjoyed the city. 

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We had fun meeting you on this cruise. Be happy to add our experiences as well because I’m too lazy to do my own review! 😉

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1 hour ago, Guindalf said:

We had fun meeting you on this cruise. Be happy to add our experiences as well because I’m too lazy to do my own review! 😉

It was great meeting you two as well. Please add your experiences. Even here - the more the merrier!

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Hello!  We just got home from the same cruise today, and I plan on writing a review myself very soon. I look forward to reading yours as well.  Did you fly into YVR on Saturday? If so, sounds like we were on the same Delta flight from LAX!

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23 minutes ago, hsk1977 said:

Hello!  We just got home from the same cruise today, and I plan on writing a review myself very soon. I look forward to reading yours as well.  Did you fly into YVR on Saturday? If so, sounds like we were on the same Delta flight from LAX!

Yes, our flight on Delta LAX to YVR was supposed to be 12:10 to 3:00 but was about an hour late if I remember right.

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5 minutes ago, friendswithdave said:

Yes, our flight on Delta LAX to YVR was supposed to be 12:10 to 3:00 but was about an hour late if I remember right.

Yep, same flight!  Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your review. I'm about to start mine as well.  I want to document everything while it's fresh in my mind!

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CRUISE DAY 0 - Everyone was up on time at Windsor House and we had a relaxing breakfast, bothered only by the yellow jacket who wandered in and wanted to be involved in everyone's food. We left around 9:30 and decided to tour Stanley Park. We first crossed the big bridge and found a Tim Horton's, both things we all just wanted to do. After the coffee and doughnuts we headed into the park for real.

 

We first parked in the lot near the bridge that had the cliffs. It really was perfect there. Wonderful views, great weather, we could have stayed all day. We took a driving tour around the rest of the park. We would have stopped to smell more roses if we had more time, but we wanted to tour Granville Island before we boarded. 

 

Granville Island was an ecletic place full of crafts and craft food and drink. We got on the wait list of the Canada restaurant and took our tour of the area. They happened to be having an old boat festival so it was cool to see and board a few of those. Our meal was great but a little longer than planned. We did not have time for my son to visit the exotic car dealers we saw on the way in. 

 

We headed back to Windsor House, loaded up with all our bags, and headed to the port - Canada Place. We arrived right at 2:00 PM - exactly when we planned to arrive.

 

My research about the port was good but not quite complete. BIL dropped us right in front of Canada Place and we unloaded our bags and made our way down under for baggage drop. Once we got there we realized we could have been dropped off underneath. LESSON - if you are being dropped off, drive under the building so you don't have to schlep your bags at all.

 

The entire underground area was like a ghost town. Seemed like there was no one there. It felt like we were in the wrong place. However, we were right and the Celebrity reps pointed us in the right direction. We continue to luggage drop, then security, then check-in, then customs, then on the ship. The only waiting we had was at customs - 2-3 minutes tops. It took longer to get from place to place then we spent in any one place. I expect we boarded about 20 minutes after we were dropped off - and we walked slowly.

 

Mom was also placed in a wheelchair early on so she wouldn't have to stand or walk so far. We appreciated that assistance and the man who pushed her.

 

Funny, I remember few specifics after we boarded. Maybe it was the few drinks we had, or that everything was just right - but not memorable. We enjoyed going under the bridge on sailaway. We looked for marine wildlife and did see one whale that evening. We considered going to Murano on the first night because it was discounted but it and Tuscan Grill were both full all evening. Still, we had a great dinner that evening in the main dining room. Most had the prime rib and it was very good. 

 

Wife wasn't feeling right by the end of the evening so I saw the comedian on my own. He was OK, not worth seeing the adult show the next night. Headed to bed after that. We had a great day all around. Next up - sea day. CRUISE DAY 1

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We flew Delta as well, but a later flight. Our flight from Atlanta was due to leave at 4:20 pm and was going to be early until two thunderstorms rolled through and we were over an hour late getting off the ground! However, our connection in LAX was an hour late too, so it all worked out, except for arriving so late at night in YVR.

 

Sunday we got a taxi from our hotel (Quality Inn near the airport) and embarked around 11 am. A bit of traffic but not too bad. Had lunch in the buffet, which was acceptable and when our rooms were available, we went down and unpacked. Of course, we partook of muster, which was the usual. When ARE they going to update that corny spy movie with the safety instructions? And that Wash Your Hands song is almost as bad as 'It's a Small World After All' at Disneyworld!!!

 

Dinner was in Le Petit Chef after finding Tuscan Grill and Murano fully booked! Still, as we had $725 of OBC to use up, we got a 5-night dining package. LPC is fun and the animations are a real novelty. We didn't care too much for the Bouillabaisse (although the octopus was really nice and tender), but the Lobster and Filet were cooked to perfection. Pacing was good, if a little slow, thanks to a party that took a long time for their prayers and whatever between courses. It was slowed down so much that the waiters brought us bread to keep us happy! I don't think this was normal! 

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CRUISE DAY 1 - Our first sea day. There were a few highlights from this day as we cruised along the Canadian and Alaska coast. First, I remember them having good sales in the shops. We rarely shop while cruising but took advantage of some real sales on clothing. Wife and I both got quarter-zip sweaters for $10 each and she got a few scarves for a good sale price. There were lots of people shopping and taking advantage of the sale.

 

We enjoyed a few hours in the Solarium in the afternoon which included some hot tub time. Had a few drinks and just relaxed. We enjoy that area.

 

This was the first "Cruise Chic" night so dinner had lots of great choices in the dining room. We planned to eat around 6:30 but had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. We were seated and dinner took longer than expected, but food and service were otherwise very good. We made it out in time for the 9:15 Topper show. We saw this on the Equinox which was better there. In our show, the "moon guy" wasn't working so some of the songs were sung by no one, making things a little strange for those unfamiliar with what should be expected. The live performers were all good.

 

We planned to do the Silent Disco after the show, but wife was feeling a little off so we went to bed after the show.

 

Next up - CRUISE DAY 2 - Icy Strait Point

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CRUISE DAY 2 - Icy Strait Point - The morning and early afternoon on board were quiet and uneventful. We tend not to do the daytime onboard activities and choose to stroll, relax, have a few drinks, and generally just chill while on board. We did spend some time in the Sky Lounge, one of our favorite places, and say some Dall's Porpoises jump as they avoided the ship.

 

Wife, mom and I had a whale watching excursion planned here so we got off among the first crowd - about 10 minutes later than expected. I was worried the walk would be too long for mom so just after we got off we saw a handicap cart to help us to the excursion point. We were the first there so we waited for others and the driver. And waited. And waited. Others came, but after about 15 minutes and no driver I walked on to the excursion point. Everyone was there except our group and one other, who came soon after. I told them the deal, and of course they waited. Soon after we saw a cart go towards the dock with two people - we learned the two drivers. I am guessing they were on their break and were just late to get to the dock. Mom and wife finally arrived and we were off - about 25 minutes late.

 

The bus ride to the boat was cool - about 1.5 miles. I happened to see one bald eagle on the way. We boarded the boat and were quickly on our way out. We saw a few otters on the way. After about 15 minutes we heard a commotion from the front. A whale had breached! We continued and saw another breach. We arrived to the area and saw 10-15 full breaches by a mother humpback, apparently entertaining her calf who was with her. It was truly amazing and unforgettable! That was the best, but the first among many highlights.

- While watching the breaching, two sea lions appeared suddenly and loudly about 10 feet from the front of the boat. They shocked everyone with their loud breath and complete surprise. They weren't seen before or again after their one surface but made a brief but memorable appearance.

- We cruised a few miles to where three orcas were cruising: a huge male, medium size female, and a calf. They cruised around together and were seen frequently, including once very near the boat after disappearing for 2-3 minutes.

- We cruised a few more miles to see five humpbacks feeding together.

 

We took the whale excursion here versus Juneau because we read that there whale watching here was better. While I don't know that this is true, this was FAR better than our whale watch tour in Juneau two years ago, and the highlight of our entire trip. The only downside was our trip was a little shorter than expected because of the late start and 7:00 PM tour right after ours. This wasn't their fault and more a matter of circumstances. Icy Strait Whale Adventures - highly recommended and booked privately (not part of a ship tour). 

 

We boarded the ship after we were dropped off right at the ship. That was a nice bonus. We got ready for dinner, headed to the Ensemble Lounge for a few drinks, looked at our pictures and videos from the tour, and made our 8:30 res for Tuscan Grill. It was a wonderful experience with great service and food, most of which was served family style, We shared a few apps, a few salads, then most got the filet with a few pastas served with it. Meal ended with dessert. Absolutely wonderful experience and probably one of the top five meals of my life. 

 

Everyone else retired and I went to the Rock show in the theater. It was good and I appreciated the live band that supported the rest of the performers. Next up - DAY 3 - HUBBARD GLACIER

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We were on the same whale watching tour (although we didn't know each other at this time)!

 

My DW was at the front of the boat when the sea lion popped up and frightened the heck out of her!

 

Another funny moment was during a slight lull in activity (there weren't many!), I was relating the story of how 10 years ago, I commented that I thought our trip would be perfect if a whale popped up 10 feet from the boat and, as I said it, one did! As I finished my story, one popped up right beside the boat and the captain said 'You were slightly out, that was more like twelve feet'!!!

 

I was nicknamed the Whale Whisperer after that.

 

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2 hours ago, Guindalf said:

We were on the same whale watching tour (although we didn't know each other at this time)!

 

My DW was at the front of the boat when the sea lion popped up and frightened the heck out of her!

 

Another funny moment was during a slight lull in activity (there weren't many!), I was relating the story of how 10 years ago, I commented that I thought our trip would be perfect if a whale popped up 10 feet from the boat and, as I said it, one did! As I finished my story, one popped up right beside the boat and the captain said 'You were slightly out, that was more like twelve feet'!!!

 

I was nicknamed the Whale Whisperer after that.

 

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Wow!!!! I’m so jealous but also excited for you guys that you saw breaching! We did our whale watching excursion in Juneau. (I’m still working in getting my trip report written but will post pics when I get to that day.) Ours was a great excursion and we saw lots of whales, but no breaches. Great pics!!

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CRUISE DAY 3 - HUBBARD GLACIER - I hadn't talked about the weather, but it has been absolutely wonderful. A little warmer than usual with very little rain. Today we woke up to an expectedly chilly morning, but temps would warm to around 60 by mid-afternoon. It was also foggy in the morning as we spent time strolling inside and outside waiting for our approach to the glacier. 

 

Our first highlight was unexpected - a majectic mountain ahead of us peeking through the waning fog. The interwebs told us this was likely Mt. Logan - and it was. The second tallest peak in North America. We continued on and Mt St Elias and Mt King George also came into view. They were magnificent. Hubbard Glacier was incredible, but these peaks (and one other) were a close second in daily highlights and provided a much longer "show" to see both as we approached and as we left the bay.

 

After debate, we decided to head to the very front on Deck 12 outside the gym for our viewing on approach. It was a great decision as we arrived shortly before most of the crowds did. It was chilly as the cold wind blew in our faces. Wife had the idea to sit and watch through the wind screen window, eliminating the wind and making it feel much better.

 

The fog had lifted completely and there were very few clouds, providing an incredible view of the glacier face and "river" along with the mountains in the background. Even the small icebergs parted, providing a clear path for us to approach - according to the Captain - closer than they had been all year. Likely less than a mile away. We could hear the thunder of the calving before we could see, but on approach we had some great views to see some huge ice boulders fall from the glacier. Another memorable moment. We arrived as close as we would get by about 11:30 AM. At 11:50 we decided to meet our family for lunch in the MDR where we planned to get a great window seat. Well, our parents forgot about our meet AND we saw we would be seated on the opposite side of the glacier, so we nixed that plan and headed to Oceanview for lunch. We ended up getting a great seat and could see but not hear the glacier.

 

As we watched, we noticed the ship stop turning one way and start turning the other way. Soon after we start heading out - a little after 1:00 PM. This was disappointing as I was enjoying our time at the glacier and we were only in the "prime" viewing area for about 100 minutes, significantly less than the 10:30 - 2:30 that we thought we would get at the glacier. Still, it was a wonderful experience and soon after we got to admire Mt Logan again as it came into view. We admired this for a few hours and a little later admired Mt Fairweather for 3-4 hours as it came into view as darkness came. 

 

Two years ago our cruise took us to Glacier Bay and I wondered which I would prefer. Thinking back, I am glad we went to Hubbard instead. Yakutat Bay isn't nearly as majestic as Glacier Bay, and we did not see any marine mammals there (like we did at Glacier Bay). However, the mountain views combined with the massive size of Hubbard Glacier and frequent calving made this experience every bit as enriching as our Glacier Bay visit. If I had to choose my favorite, it would truly be a draw. I enjoyed both areas immensely.

 

I enjoyed the ROCK show while wife continued to take in the views of Mt Fairweather. After that we met for another great dinner in the MDR and then off to bed. Another wonderful day. Next - CRUISE DAY 4 - JUNEAU.

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I have little to add as Friendswithdave is doing such a great job! I agree will everything about the experience as we also have visited Glacier Bay.

 

As for wildlife, we saw very little, but there were some sea lions basking in the sun on a rock as we approached the glacier. The captain and the CD both commented that last week was the closest they had ever got to the glacier, and this week was closer still! I think I heard that we got within one half mile of its face. A group of people who had booked an excursion were taken off the ship to cruise the glacier much closer than we could ever get, but apart from that, the 6.5ish miles of the glacier was spectacular, as was the calving we saw and heard.

 

We watched from our balcony and the captain made sure that he turned the ship through 360 degrees so everyone could get a perfect view, The maneuver is called pirouetting (just like the ballet term).

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CRUISE DAY 4 - JUNEAU - We were up and atum early as this was our first and only FULL day in port. We enjoyed the balcony on the way in through heavy fog. It was amazing to hear the ship horn out there and then hear the echo which lasted a full nine seconds - I timed it! I've never heard such an echo in my life!

 

Weather forecast was perfect - cool in the morning but a high around 70 in the afternoon. No rain. We pulled in around 7:00 AM and set to leave at 7:00 PM. We made plans the night before to meet our clan in the Cafe at 10:00 and walk off then to get our rental car. We were antsy to go so wife and I got off around 8:00 and strolled around downtown Juneau window shopping until around 9:00 when we started our mile walk down to Avis to pick up our rental car. Wife made it half-way before the smoke from the busses got her down, and I walked the rest of the way to pick up the car, then picked her up on the way. We found a good parking place pretty close to the ship and then boarded again to pick up the gang.

 

It must have been low tide because the walk up from the dock to the mainland was very steep. We recruited two nice Celebrity gentlemen to help mom up the ramp in a wheelchair. Celebrity did a good job helping those needing assistance around and off and on the ship. We made our way to the car then headed to the Alaska Museum only about 1/2 mile away. Everyone enjoyed the museum, but our parents especially enjoyed it. They mentioned it was one of the highlights of their vacation. Much of the museum was dedicated to the native peoples who first settled the area and how they survived the harsh environment.

 

After about an hour we headed to the little salmon dive right near the ship: The Salmon Spot. It is in a small trailer on the corner right near the "entrance" to downtown. The menu is simple: salmon chowder, salmon burgers, and salmon cakes. When you only have three things, you better do them well. And they do! Our best off-ship meal the entire cruise. Outdoor seating only, so you do hear the busses go by frequently, and not much fun on a rainy day. Simple food that tasted great and priced right. Highly recommended!

 

From there we boarded our SUV and headed to Mendenhall Glacier. There were tons of people there, but it didn't seem overcrowded. Only wife, son and I decided to make the mile long trek to the glacier and waterfall. The glacier was cool, but the highlight was the waterfall. It is an easy hike over pretty even terrain, but is a mile each way so be prepared for that. It is amazing being able to get with just a few feet of a roaring waterfall. This stop and the hike are both highly recommended. 

 

At this point, it was mid-afternoon and the parents were tired. We took a driving tour up north of Juneau to see more of the coast and hopefully see some whales. We saw the coast but no luck on the whales. We headed back, dropped off the parents, then drove back to Avis to drop the car. I then made the mile walk back to the ship. You would think all this walking would keep the pounds from accumulating on my waistline during the cruise, but no. Too many food + alcohol calories. I gained about 5 pounds this trip.

 

Back on the ship we had a relaxed afternoon then an early dinner. This was our second "evening chic" night so we had a nice early dinner in the MDR. Most had the lobster. Son and I had two. It was good but not great. After that we watched us cruise away from Juneau from the Sky Lounge. The scenery here is wonderful and we saw two other ships ahead of us that evening. We skipped the comedian / magician that evening and headed to bed after dark. Next up - CRUISE DAY 5 - Ketchikan.

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Our day in Juneau couldn't have been more different. We had a 1:30 PM excursion booked,, taking us to the Alaska State Museum and then on to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. However, the ticket said that the tour was not suitable for 'wheelchairs or anyone with limited mobility', so I called the Guest Relations desk who put me in touch with the Shore Excursion team, who were on shore. They told me to visit their desk on the ship later that eening, but I should have canceled when I got the tickets (they were in the room when we boarded, but I didn't look further than the title).

 

We walked past the shore-side excursion booth and I idly asked the cost of the float plane. We got the price for the flight only and for the one that stopped at the Taku Lodge for a salmon dinner. As I haven't been working since I had a serious episode that landed me in the ICU at the end of February, I said we'd think about it and we re-boarded the ship. My DW reminded me that ten years before, we passed on a float plane ride in Ketchican, so we really should do this one, so we went back to the booth to book. The Lodge trip was fully booked - well, they had just one seat left - so we booked the latest flight, which was at 4:00 PM.

 

We made the decision to at least try the tour we had booked and at the appropriate time, made our way to the meeting point. I just happened to ask what time we were due to arrive at the Salmon Bake and was informed that it would be between 3:30 and 3:45. Check-in for the flight was at 3:30, so we got off the bus. Instead, we walked along the front to Tracy's King Crab Shack and had some absolutely amazing King Crab legs!

 

Our flight was amazing. We flew over the Juneau ice fields and five glaciers before returning. The float plane was smooth and comfortable and a stone's throw from the ship.

 

We also ate in the Main Dining Room and I agree that the lobster was just ok. It was, of course warm water caribbean lobster and it's difficult to broil and serve to so many people without it being overcooked.

 

These pics were taken with a Canon point and shoot, so I'm not sure why the time stamp is on every shot (and the time's wrong anyway!).

 

 

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Edited by Guindalf

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CRUISE DAY 5 - Ketchikan - First, we had another incredible day weather-wise. Cool in the morning but high around 68 and not a cloud in the sky all day. We cruised in an area I remember seeing whales in before, so I spent much time watching for whales. Saw none in the early morning but around 11:00 I saw a few humpbacks. I believe I saw four different whales during the hour-long period from 11:00 to noon. We had a little credit left so wife and I had lunch in Sushi on 5. Wife loved her soup dish, I enjoyed my roll, and we shared some sashimi as a starter. All was very good and filled us up for the day. 

 

The morning and early afternoon was relaxing, just watching the shoreline go by.

 

Ship docked at 2:00 and we debarked around 2:30. We took a leisurely stroll to the SE Alaska museum. Most entered, but son and I went on to Creek Street. We enjoyed watching the running salmon and three seals who live in the creek area. We also hiked up to the area with the fish ladder and admired the salmon who made their way up the ladder or the heavy rapids adjacent. We met the parents, spent more time in the Creek Street area, then son took our parents back to the ship. Wife and I enjoyed the area more until we headed back to the ship around 5:30, picking up some souvenirs and fudge on the way back.

 

Dinner that evening was a late reservation at Murano. Wife and I enjoyed a few drinks in the Ensemble Lounge prior to dinner. Murano was very elegant and had great service - with a catch. We ordered varied apps and most ordered the lobster for dinner. I had the venison. During our appetizer course wife started feeling a little funny. It didn't take her long to realize she was at the beginning of an alergic reaction - realizing that her shellfish allergy may be flaring because they are flambeeing lobster nearby at another table. She left to the Ensemble Lounge to see whether or how much it would pass. It never did and she felt best to just return to the room. 

 

The food and service were great but the meal of course wasn't the same without her. My venison loin was very good and I had never had venison this way before. We had her duck delivered to her room, but it took over an hour to get there and wasn't the same by that time. We settled to bed after I got back to the room. 

 

I mentioned to our server what had happened, and he said it wasn't the first time someone had an alergic reaction to the flambeed lobster. He did not ask about allergies at our table or mention this as a possibility. We know now. We did appreciate that he discounted her meal by 50% since she could not spend most of it with us. Next - CRUISE DAY 6 - Sea Day

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I was wondering what happened to you! Glad you came back to continue your review. I didn't want to be seen as trying to upstage you, so I waited.

 

We also had a relaxing time in the morning, knowing we had the Baring Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour booked in Ketchikan. The boat was on the same pier as us, so not far to walk at all. We got on the Aleutian Ballad and set off for the tour. All the time, the crew were talking and entertaining us, telling us stories of some of the things that happened during their many years as crab fishermen in the Baring Sea. Anyone familiar with the TV show The Deadliest Catch, which the Aleutian Ballad was featured during season two, will be aware of how difficult the conditions can be, but thankfully, we were in calm waters!

 

We went to an area owned by the native Indians, who granted special permission to this boat, meaning there were no others around us. Pots were pulled, the first containing box crabs, which we were invited to hold. Then some very large prawns were hauled in, followed by a king crab pot. In keeping with the preservation of wildlife, the crab in the king pot were plastic, but there a few in a tank on the deck! A nice touch was the myriad buoy tags that were attached to the king crab pot. There had messages from previous visitors who were kind enough to donate something toward families who had lost loved ones at sea. We were happy to be included.

 

It was time to feed the eagles! The crew threw large pieces of fish over the side of the boat and we watched the bald eagles as they swooped down for a meal. Spectacular!

 

The final creature brought up from the depths was a large octopus.

 

Our meal tonight was a second go around in Tuscan Grill. An excellent meal spoiled by a clown of a waiter! He kept getting things wrong or bringing the food out at the wrong time, spoiling the meal a little. For example, DW had ordered a salad and I asked for pasta. He insisted on bringing the pasta later with the meat course and placing it in the middle for sharing, even after repeatedly being told that is not how we wanted it. He ended up having to return my entree to the galley for them to re-make it when I was ready (you can't re-heat medium rare lamb chops!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CRUISE DAY 6 - Inside Passage - Today was a quiet day as we enjoyed all the ship amenities - the Sky Lounge (where we saw a few whales), Solarium, and a number of bars including the Casino Bar where we enjoyed some football on TV and met Guindolf and his DW. Weather was a little cooler with some off and on rain. It was lovely to talk with them and hear about their experiences and stories. Breakfast and lunch were in the Oceanview Cafe. Lunch included the dramatic dessert offerings that looked incredible but didn't taste quite as good as they looked. Dinner was in the main dining room.

 

We took in the final show - which was the best of the lot. Many Cirque type elements and thoroughly enjoyable. The female aerielist showed some incredible feats of strength and was the most impressive of an outstanding cast.

 

After the show we headed to our favorite event - the Silent Disco. We had a great time but didn't enjoy this one quite as much as on our last cruise for two reasons: 1 - the songs played were a little off, and 2 - it being our last night, we didn't feel like we could go all out and stay up as late as before since we had such a long travel day ahead of us. Still, a great time for wife and me.

 

At dinner we reviewed our disembarkation plan - critical since we had an 11:00 AM flight and a very short layover in Chicago.

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Not much to add to this. It was a day of goodbyes and relaxation. Sadly, it was just today that we met Friendswithdave and his better half. I wish we could have met earlier in the cruise as we had a great time together. I'd love to stay in touch and maybe arrange to cruise together at a later date.

 

We ate in Murano and didn't make it to the final show. We'd seen it before on Equinox, so we weren't too worried. We had a 1:10pm flight the next day so we were able to take our time in the morning. Little did we know of the horrors that were about to transpire! For now, let's just say I will NEVER use Expedia again!

 

If anyone's interested in the full story, I'll be glad to fill you in.

 

I'd like to say that, following our Alaska cruise in 2009, which was near perfect, we went into this one not expecting it to match up. However, we had excellent weather and great company, not to mention experiences that met and exceeded that first trip! It's now a toss-up as to which was best!

 

Once again, thanks to Friendswithdave and the other friends we made on this cruise (John & Suzanne, Erica & Fletcher, another Erica and many others). We would be happy to sail with any of you again.

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CRUISE DAY 7 - Debarkation - We were all up early this morning and we ran into each other for breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe. It was good and quick and we enjoyed a few minutes on deck as we cruised under the bridge heading into Vancouver. We planned to meet at 7:15 in Cafe al Bacio to get ready to debark but all were there early and we saw the line beginning to form so we got in it. We had all our luggage with us so it was quite a site. The line began moving around 7:30 and move quickly and continuously to customs. Customs saw mom in a walker so they opened a new line for us and we went through almost without stopping. We continued to the taxi line and walked right into two taxis. It took awhile to load us and our stuff, but we were on our way by 7:45.

 

We arrived at the airport by 8:10 and started moving there. There were few lines and despite having to go through ticketing, baggage, security, customs, we were through everything by around 8:45 - must sooner than we expected. Therefore we took our time getting through the airport for our 11:00 AM flight.

 

Our flight left about 30 minutes late and were very worried about making our connection in O'Hare which was only one hour. We arrived only 10 minutes late, got cart assistance for mom, and made our way to the next gate, grabbing a quick bite on the way. We made it on time and were seated on the flight. Another uneventful flight and we were back in Raleigh by 9:20 PM.

 

Next up - final overall notes on our trip.

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FINAL NOTES - This was our second Alaskan cruise (other on HAL) and second Celebrity cruise (other in Equinox Spring 2019). Our overall experience on this ship was better than that on the Zaandam two years ago - but I must share we paid more for "less" vacation. On that cruise, we finished with a 5-day land portion with two nights in Denali. This was a cruise only vacation. Here is my comparison:

ROOM - Eclipse - but we did have a balcony. The Zaandam inside room was the best inside room we have had.

FOOD - Eclipse by a hair - primarily because we had lots of on board credit which enabled us to have two nights in the fee restaurants and our experience in these was very good. Breakfast was the same on both, lunch in the buffet was slightly better on Eclipse, dinner in MDR was slightly better on Zaandam.

ENTERTAINMENT - Eclipse was better - primarily the shows. That said, Eclipse was twice the size of the Zaandam.

OUTDOOR AREAS - Tie - we enjoyed the lawn club on Eclipse but enjoyed the large enclosed pool area on Zaandam.

BARS - this was the big difference. We had the Premier Bev Package on the Eclipse and took advantage of that. It made our trip more relaxing and enjoyable.

ITINERARY - Tie - Eclipse went to Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier, Zaandam went to Glacier National Park and Skagway. We loved Skagway and missed going there, but our whale watching cruise out of ISP was phenomenal - the best excursion we ever had. Hubbard Glacier and GNP were both wonderful for different reasons. I'm glad we have experienced both.

GUESTS - Eclipse had a MUCH younger demographic of other passengers - typical age was 40-60. Zaandam typical age was 55-75. 

 

In the end, we thoroughly enjoyed both vacations. I would recommend HAL for older passengers. It is a quieter and more relaxed vacation. Celebrity is better for the 40-55 crowd with a little more going on and a more stylish and hip atmosphere. 

 

Comparing this ship to the Equinox - there were very few differences in the ship, food, entertainment, cabins, etc. The main differences we noted were due to this being an Alaska cruise with fewer outdoor activities and that being a Caribbean cruise with more outdoor activities.

 

Cheers!

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Thank you for taking the time to post your review. I, for one, am very grateful for the insight into the same cruise I was on and it prompted me to post more information than I ever have before (in 18 cruises)!

 

I tried to PM you to tell you that I would love to sail with you both again, but the system won't allow me. If you feel the same, then please feel free to message me and we can arrange our next cruise together!

]

 

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On 9/11/2019 at 7:47 AM, Guindalf said:

If anyone's interested in the full story, I'll be glad to fill you in.

Yes, please.

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