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Summit: July 16, 2004 review - part 2


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Summit: July 16, 2004 review - Preparations


This is not just a review.

This is the story of all the things that happened to us, the thoughts we had and the decisions we made that had implications on our cruise.

If you want just the cruise review, wait until I post the review, which will probably be titled "The journey begins"



September 2002

We know where to, we know who with. We don't know for how long, we don't know on which ship, we don't know how much, we don't know what to take, we don't know about our destination, We have a lot to learn! Back to the search engine!

It appeared that Vancouver-Alaska is a 7 night, 3 options affair, namely Round Trip, North Bound or South Bound. So what do we do with the "remaining" week or two?

We were in Las Vegas ten years ago. We heard the place changed. We wanted to see the changes. We were thinking we can thaw in Las Vegas. We realized this was almost insane. It will involve too many flights and two unrelated destinations.

We also learned that there is more to Alaska then cruising, so maybe we can add 2 or 3 days in Alaska and do the rest in San Francisco. Dalia came up with the winning solution - all Alaska, just Alaska! We took it from there. If we were to spend the entire vacation in Alaska, the round-trip option should be ruled out. So NB or SB?

SB seems nice. Tour the place then relax for a week. Some relaxation; Being slightly hysterical the only thing I would probably think of is the long haul back home. Thanks to the east bound air travel, distance involved, and the crazy flight schedules, we will land in Israel TWO calendar days after leaving Vancouver. Besides, I really like the idea expressed on the board that you want the Alaska experience to build up, getting norther and norther. So let it be NB, it is also my initials.


Which ship would it be? That's no problem. Once we decided on Celebrity, it was easy to pick the Summit. The reviews I've read made it more easy, they were good. I didn't like the paint, all-white broadcast a more vacation like, cool looking ship. Who cares? We won't see the paint job from the ship.


What date should we choose? If we want 3 weeks we have to take it in July. The last week in August, sometimes even 10 days, are full with meetings at school for the new school year. Last year the final exams were finished only on July 7, so the July 4 sailing was cutting it too close. Here goes, July 18 2003, 7 night NB Summit!


What cabin? I've read people upgrading themselves as they cruise more and more, from inside to outside, from oceanview to balconies, maybe a suite?

It boils down to cost. Thanks to the ridiculous airfares from Israel, being the end of the line for airlines landing here, I can say "Getting there is [more than] half the FUND".

The cost of airfare to Vancouver and back from Anchorage will be more than the cruise itself. I'm not sure we will be able to afford it more than once, so we should choose the best cabin within reasonable limits.

Seeing the prices on several sites, it quickly became clear that a suite was out of question. The cabin choice threads were very informative, linking to pictures and going into details, I also posted some questions on the Celebrity board that were promptly answered by the helpful users, some praised the aft cabins. The letters FV (a.k.a Cat 3) came too often. The descriptions and the images were compelling, the raves of 270 degrees views from a corner FV were appealing, the numbers (of sq. feet) were impressive, the difference in cost was not beyond reach, the number of total FV cabins is small! Even smaller is the number of corner FVs.

A visit to the Celebrity site revealed that 8168 was available


How do I go about reserving a cabin? Due to restrictions here, we must book through a TA in Israel. There aren't many cruise specialists in Israel, in fact I didn't find any. At this point I knew about ships and cabins more than my usual travel agent. What I did find out is that there is one Celebrity agent in Israel. I called them.

"Do you book Celebrity cruises?" Sure we do, What ship and when?

"Summit July 18, 2003." Sure, what type of cabin?

"8168." Let me check if it is available? It is! Early or late sitting? Table size?

Wow, we ARE getting into details! The lady informed me of the price and conditions and gave me two days to secure the booking. I did. We now have a booking number!

I kept watching availability; I was shooting for a corner FV. I saw 7199 available, I called, she changed to 7199, I wanted the right side (come on, learn the lingo, it's starboard) thinking it would lend itself to more views of the land going north, 7202 became available, I called, she changed to 7202. I was happy, I no longer watched for available cabins, Celebrity was going to wine & dine us and make us happy!


It was now time to learn about Alaska. At this time I already posted some questions on the Alaska board. They too were answered with details (thanks to all who answered, especially Budget Queen, Gardyloo and Sequim88, bless you guys).

So off to the bookstores for travel books. An unhappy reality immediately presented itself. Alaska is not a favorite destination in Israel. I couldn't find any travel books about Alaska. Amazon here I come. I ordered Frommer, Fodor, The Milepost, and just to get into the atmosphere - Mitchener's Alaska. They will arrive in October.



October 2002

The books arrived, choke full of information, they are fun just to read, let alone accumulating more and more information; what to do, where to stay, what to see.

The Milepost is incredible and a little daunting, should we take it with us? should we copy the most relevant information? how about simultaneously sitting next to the driver, trying both to enjoy the views and translating to Hebrew? Sifting what's on from the vast amount of information? - An idea starts to present itself, it will acquire shape and form in the near future.


We skimmed the net, trying to figure out what our itinerary should be once we disembark? where should we go? what should we see? where should we stay?

After reading many posts and most of the books, we had a pretty good idea - From Seward to Anchorage, from Anchorage a counter-clockwise loop on the Glenn, Richardson and Parks highways, with a side trip to Barrow from Fairbanks.

Now let's see about some hotels. We usually do not make reservations for hotels when we travel the US (except for the first and last night) but we learned that Alaska is different. With hundreds of thousands of tourists in the short peak season, hotel rooms might be scarce. So we made lists of hotels we would like to stay in, then we shortened our list, then we further shortened the short list, then we made some phone calls - all this about 9 months in advance, but remember I'm slightly hysterical. I also started on my Milepost idea. I'll write a database of highways, places and important points along the highways, include a feature to assemble points into "mini-logs" which I'll print in Hebrew and create our personal Milepost.



November 2002 - January 2003

We made some more inquiries, some more phone calls. We made reservations for hotels and excursions, the Milepost database was done. We were ready. We just had to wait until July.

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I wonder why we couldn't get 25 to sign for the party, seems like all other sailings did. I tried to imagine how it would be meeting someone from the boards on board. Sorry we didn't meet after all and I hope your DH is fully recovered.

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