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Boo's Mom

A review of my 9 days in Alaska....from Anchorage down to my voyage on the Celebrity Summit!!

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Hi Folks!

 

I just returned from 9 days in Alaska. (June 9 - June 18, 2004) Here is my review:

 

7 night southbound inside passage on the Celebrity Summit with 2 nights pre-cruise in Anchorage. The pre-cruise was not a tour package.

 

Day One: The flight to Anchorage is long! We booked on American Airlines who then booked part of our journey on Frontier Airlines. Due to weather delays, we missed two of our three connections. American ended up putting us on Alaska Airlines for the last leg of the journey. We upgraded to first class with Alaska Airlines for only $100.00 per person!!! Just ask at the airport. It made the very late night, 5 hour leg to Anchorage very comfortable. My husband and I were traveling with our two children (8 & 11).

Also, I do not recommend traveling with more than one airline for the journey. We had walked MILES...between terminals when our flights were missed. American couldn't help us until we had checked in with Frontier Airlines...which was located in another terminal. I learned a hard lesson on this flight.

 

Also, when booking the flight to Anchorage....allow yourself a couple of hours for layovers. You will probably need them...as delays are a reality. With longer layovers, you may have time to make your connections.

 

The flight into Anchorage was awesome! As each hour went on....the lighter the sky became! Within about an hour of reaching Anchorage, we were able to view mountains, snow and glaciers from our window! What a sight! Too bad that it was late at night...and most folks were sound asleep on the plane!

 

Anchorage: We stayed at the Captain Cook Hotel, in downtown Anchorage. It is a very nice hotel, very large and was hopping with cruisers, especially Princess Cruisers...who were staying there as part of their land tour.

We had a junior suite, which has a separate living room and bedroom.

The hotel is equipped with an Alaska Airlines Office and a Princess Office. There are numerous gift shops in the Hotel with lots of nice things.

 

Day Two: Breakfast at the Muffin Man Restaurant, about a 5 minute walk from the Hotel. Great bagel breakfast sandwiches! I highly recommend.

 

Took a walk over to the train station for an early visit to confirm the details for our departure the following morning...down to Seward. Glad to hear that they have a dining car and that breakfast would be served. Confirmed that our need to be at the station 1 hour prior to leaving is not necessary. 30 minutes would be sufficient. Luggage will need to be dropped off one building away....prior to us entering the depot lobby for the train ride.

 

No sales tax in Anchorage. Many nice gift shops...and many will ship items home for you...for a small processing fee and shipping fee.

 

The Air Force Band of the Pacific (stationed in Anchorage) performed in downtown Anchorage on Thursday evening. They were very talented and we thoroughly enjoyed the free concert.

 

Day Three: Up very early to make the train ride down to Seward to the cruise ship. Cab ride is just a few minutes away, but necessary because of all of our luggage.

 

Although we are not on a tour with Celebrity, we will not see our luggage again until it is delivered to our cabin onboard the Summit. I cannot confirm that all cruiselines will do this for you. In fact, we received many conflicting answers about this situation from different personnel at the train station.

 

The train ride to Seward was about four hours. The views were spectacular! We saw several mountain goats high on the cliffs, eagles....and one moose.

 

Breakfast on the train was served immediately upon departing....in order by car. ie: we were in car A...and we were called to eat first. Breakfast was served on plasticware and was not very good. I do not recommend eating there. The folks in the rear cars had to wait quite a long time until their car was called for breakfast.

 

The train ride was narrated on and off for the four hours. This was nice.

 

I was able to take a small nap...and actually regretted it, because I know I missed some beautiful sites! icon_frown.gif

 

Off the train in Seward. The pier is a 10-15 minute walk from the train station and we walked there in a large group.

 

I will continue my reveiw later today!! Stay tuned...for bears, eagles, King Salmon, whales..and more!

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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thanks! this is what we'll be doing in 2 months! what nights were formal?

we're in anchorage/denali/seward for 5 days precruise on our own then a weekend post cruise in vancouver. we're also taking the train to seward, thanks for the tip about breakfast!

 

Sheree

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My review continues:

 

Embarkation: We arrived at the Summit about 11:30 and the embarkation process took approximately 5 minutes. We were one of the first to get onto the ship. A breeze!

 

We were met onboard by several of the ship's officers and were given that now famous glass of champagne...or orange juice if you prefer. We headed straight to the buffet...had a great lunch....were not bombarded by waiters selling souvenir drinks....(as one might experience on other cruiselines).

 

Next...the cabin. We booked a category RS (Royal Suite)..on deck 6. An absolutely lovely, apartment size suite including 3 phones, 2 flat screen tv's, computer, CD player and 2 hot tubs (balcony & bathroom).

 

Dinner on the first night is casual dress and open seating in the dining room. This means....if you are scheduled for main seating, you can go down to eat anytime from 6 - 7pm. If you are schedule for late seating, you can go down anytime from 8:30 - 9:30pm.

 

We sailed at approximately 9pm!!!...on schedule!

 

Day Four (Day 2 of cruise): Today we visit Hubbard Glacier. This is also our first "sea Day". Our Cruise Critic "connections" Party is scheduled (by Celebrity) for the exact time that we are at the Glacier! icon_mad.gif Very poor planning, Celebrity. Only about 10 of the 35 folks attended. I think we only met for 15 minutes...as everyone wanted to get outside to view the Glacier.

 

Hubbard Glacier: Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!! The Summit was very close to the Glacier....much closer that the Mercury did when we sailed her one year ago.

 

Be sure to go on the top deck where the ship's photographers are doing professional photos of you with the glacier in the background!!

 

We saw the glacier breaking apart about 2 dozen times...and the sounds that accompany it are a must hear.

 

Day Five (Day 3 of the cruise): It's Sunday and we are in Juneau! We did the Taku Glacier Lodge Flight and Feast Excursion, booked through the cruiseline. We flew in a floatplane (10 passenger) about 25 minutes to Taku Lodge....located in an isolated area right next to a Glacier! We had a fabulous feast of grilled salmon, beans, coleslaw & bread....and homemade fabulous gingerbread cookies. There is a nice gift shop at Taku Lodge...I purchased a thick throw blanket and had it shipped home.

 

Mosquitoes are a serious problem at the Taku Lodge...specifically on the little walk through the forest...which was not guided. Folks ahead of us were running out of the woods....mosquitoes biting and swarming...BIG mosquitoes! There were plenty of electronic bug zappers (handheld) available for everyone to use...and bug sprays...but unfortunately, the mosquitoes really hindered our enjoyment of the forest. However.....I highly recommend this excursion! It was a highlight of our trip!

 

I looked for a t-shirt in their gift shop: I SURVIVED THE MOSQUITOES AT TAKU LODGE. But, there were none available. icon_frown.gif

 

My review will continue in just one moment!

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

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Day Six (Day 4 of cruise): Skagway

 

We head out for the 8:20am Whitepass Scenic Railway Excursion....booked through the cruiseline. You get on the train a few steps from the ship! Folks, do not miss this excursion! The sights were spectacular! I may have taken 60- 70 pics during this 3 hr. train ride. We were able to safely stand outside our railcar to photograph. It was rather cold out there...as we approached heights where there was snow and because of the movement of the train. We saw a young bear along the path of the train...about 10 feet from us. He was not bothered by the train movement...and allowed us to take pics of him!!

 

We were provided free bottles of water on the train...in the shape of a train.

 

Upon returning to Skagway, the train will let you off in town, or will take you back to the ship. Town (shopping) is about a 10-15 minute walk from the ship.

 

We also did the Musher's Camp and Dogsled Experience in Skagway. This was a very educational excursion and my children were in a state of pure delight! Our tour guide/van driver was very knowledgeable and really gave us a lot of insight into the area.

 

I highly recommend this excursion, as well! icon_wink.gif

 

Day 7 (Day 5 of the Cruise): Icy Strait Today we dock in Icy Strait Point. What an island! We are scheduled for the Saltwater Salmon fishing. My 8 year old daughter catches a 25 pound King Salmon!!!! We pay to have it shipped home. I am currently anxiously awaiting its arrival! I very highly recommend fishing for this port. We caught about 6 salmon and had a great, relaxing time....and incredible views! The fishing was done from a small boat...one captain and the four of us. This excursion sells out..as they only have about 4 - 5 boats to accomodate the entire cruiseship. $10.00 per adult for a fishing license...and an additional $10.00 per adult King Salmon stamp. Nothing additional for the kids. Book early!

 

We got a late start onto the island.....and because our excursion was 3.5 hours...we did not get to see any more of the island...and we regret that greatly. We took the last tender back to the Summit @ 3:15. Not much time there at all.

 

The whale watching excursion in Icy Strait.....is done on a huge yacht type ship...and the reviews coming off of that boat....and the digital photos that I saw...are screaming that you might not want to miss the whale watching off of this island! The whales were coming out of the water HEAD FIRST!!!!! ...and close to their boat!

 

Why was the port time so short? My opinion is that because it was a scheduled Formal Night....they must provide a short port time..inorder for the passengers with main seating to have time to return and dress for dinner. Because, as you know....Formal Nights on a cruise ship = a lot of $ for the cruiseline. icon_wink.gif

 

My review continues momentarily.....

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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Day eight (Day 6 of the cruise) Ketchikan:

 

Today we are in Ketchikan. We are scheduled for the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary...which is a brand new excursion. They have cut a .5 mile path through a forest..paved..and they take you on a very informative, narrated, guided walk throught he forest. We learned a lot. We saw lots of eagles, a salmon ranch (very interesting)...and a tour through a lumber mill which is no longer operable.

 

At the end of the tour, we were taken to a gift shop area...and were treated to smoked salmon jerky....out of this world taste!.... They have it available for sale..$11.00 for about 5 short links. I purchased several, as they were so good...and processed right there in Ketchikan. Our tour guide was a young lady...probably college age...but, was very knowledgeable. I also recommend this excursion.

 

Our second excursion in Ketchikan is the Alaska Lumberjack Show. Folks, we missed this last summer when we were in Ketchikan...and so I was determined not to miss it this time.

 

The show sold for $30.00 per adult and $15.00 per child. Someone, somewhere...is making some serious money off of such a silly show. Yes, there was some men who had skills in lumberjacking. But, yes it was a silly, canned, production...which we now regret having spent the time and money.

 

The show was silly...and fun for my girls, but the price was way too high!!! It was more like a $5.00 pp show.

 

Unfortunatley, this is an excursion that I will not recommend. Go fishing instead! icon_wink.gif

 

Day Nine (Day 7 of the cruise): Sea Day This is our first real sea day (apart from the busy-ness of the Hubbard Glacier Day)....our first real chance to relax and enjoy the ship.... and I spend several hours in the morning...and late evening PACKING to go home! icon_eek.gif

 

Where did the time go? The week on the cruise went flying by! I have come to the conclusion that four ports on a 7 night cruise is too busy for me and my family. Although we thoroughly enjoyed all of our ports, we were on the go throughout most of our cruise...and were not able to have much relaxing time. Having two children also contributed to this.

 

Disembarking in Vancouver: Very, very smooth. As we were in a suite, they allowed us to wait in the Normandie Specialty Restaurant...until we were ready to leave the ship. Yes, it was our choice when we left. After enjoying the final company of some friends we met.....as they enjoyed coffee/danish....we walked off the ship.

 

The Vancouver Airport was very crowded. After paying an additional $30.00 cab fare for one little lost cell phone belonging to my husband, we were on our way through the long lines of immigration and customs.

 

Yes, there were folks who were missing their flights because of the lines. Please do not schedule your flight out of Vancouver to depart anytime before noon. It is so not worth it.

 

Film/35mm/Xray comments: I traveled with my 35 mm and my digital cameras. As I lost all of my film last summer to Xray damage...I was determined not to allow any of my film to be xrayed on the entire trip.

 

I am here to tell you that my film was hand inspected the entire trip...through US airports/cruise/Vancouver Airport. They will try to convince you at every xray machine that you film will be safe. This is their job. Just know that you can ask for a hand inspection and they will do it.

 

Packing your undeveloped film in checked luggage will guarantee damage. The xraying that is done through any carryon luggage (airport & cruiseline) is accumulative...which means that after about 4-5 times...is will likely to be damaged. The TSA will tell you all of this.

 

My comments on the Celebrity Cummit Experience: I love Celebrity. I have also sailed on Princess and Carnival.

 

I have experienced the Mercury and the Century on Celebrity...and have found that the level of service on the Summit was not quite up to the Superior Service we received on the other two Celebrity ships. I attribute this to the upper management. Perhaps this management is young in experience because the ship is only two years old? Although, our experience was very, very good....we could not help but compare it to our other Celebrity Voyages...and thought it fell slightly short. We also had the same category RS suite on all three Celebrity ships.

 

Food...Dining Room... Very good. Very consistent with what we were served on the Century & the Mercury.

 

Buffet.... Very good also. Specifically I enjoyed the pasta bar. Pick your pasta and ingredients...and the cook will prepare them for you in front of you. Then, pick your sauce.

 

Roomservice: Good. Almost the exact menu from the other two ships. Prompt service.

 

Children's Program: This is one of Celebrity's Achievements. Always professionally operated. Great counselors.

 

However, as we were in port for four day, my children did not participate in the children's program most days.

 

Evening Shows: We only saw a few. What we did see...we loved.

 

The comedian Cary Long was great!!!!! His show was all about preparing to cruise and the onboard cruise experience. I laughed so hard. His content was clean, also.

 

The Acapella group..... Off the Top..was awesome! Huge talent. Don't miss them!!!

 

Celebrity is a fine cruiseline...and I very highly recommend it! When we cruise again, it will be on Celebrity!

 

I have most of the daily "Celebrity Today" bulletins...if I can answer any of your questions about the different days of cruising. I also have kept the schedule for the children's programs.

 

Well, Folks... that's my review. Alaska is awesome! We will return again someday. My husband would like to live there.

 

I am at your service and available to answer any questions from my fellow cruise critic friends! icon_biggrin.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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Thanks to Boo's Mom for posting her review so soon. As shipmates of the "Boo Clan" we also felt that our Alaskan experience was outstanding but Summit missed the mark on providing anything but "adequate" service. While there was no one major complaint to point to, the "little extras" all added up to a less than stellar experience provided by the Celebrity staff at all levels. I will post our experiences in my review by tomorrow.

 

"J" -- glad to hear you did retrieve your cellphone.

 

T&T

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Boo's Mom~~thank you for your detailed review of your Summit cruise. It's because of folks like you that the rest of us can better prepare for our upcoming cruises. It's all in the details!

 

We are doing the Celebrity 12 night cruisetour in August (southbound). Our flight will be long as well as we are flying in from the East Coast. I'm definitely bringing a CD player and a good book to pass the time. I just get so tired of sitting in those uncomfortable seats for so long. My lower back gets tired and stiff. I try to get up when I can, but have the window seat and hate to bother other people when I get up. And DH is tall and although he doesn't complain, I know it's uncomfortable for him as well. We were upgraded to first class once when we went to Las Vegas and it was just wonderful! Gee I wonder how much it would cost us to upgrade? Might be worth a call to the airlines!

 

We have the 5 night land tour before the cruise. We begin in Anchorage & then go to Talkeetna by domed railcar, then Denali and end in Fairbanks. Then they fly you back to Anchorage and I think we motorcoach to Seward.

 

I will be anxious to find out what time our motorcoach will arrive in Seward. I'm wondering if we'll have any time at all to see Seward and perhaps go to the Seavey dog camp. I hope so. Seward looks like a beautiful port. Maybe someone who is doing this itinerary can tell me.

 

Also, I'm glad you mentioned the lines at the airport in Vancouver. We have purchased the transfers to the airport thru Celebrity and our return flight is at 12:40 pm. That was the latest we could get to come home without running into an overnight flight. I hope the 12:40 flight will work out well timewise. We'll find out soon enough.

 

We did the White Pass Railroad the last time we went to Skagway and I agree that it's a must. Beautiful and so much history. This time we are doing the Yukon jeep adventure up to Carcross. Also doing Captain Larry's whale watch in Juneau and the amphibious duck tour in Ketchikan.

 

Thanks again for a great review. I'll write one of my own when we get back.

Welcome home, glad you had a nice trip!

 

Sleddogs icon_biggrin.gif

 

Carnival Fascination 8/00 (Southern Carib)25th Anniversary

Norwegian Sky 8/01 (Alaska) Enchantment of the Seas 8/02 (Western Carib)

Carnival Destiny Family Cruise 8/10/03 (Southern Caribbean)

Celebrity Summit 12 night Alaska cruise tour 8/2004

Jewel of the Seas 12 night British Isles/Norwegian Fjords 7/2005~~30th Anniversary

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Boo's mom,

Wow! What a great review! I too, will add some additional comments tomorrow. The Summit, and Celebrity, are still hard to beat! Best "bang for the buck" at sea! icon_biggrin.gif Enjoy! Kel

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You guys are too fast for me . Im still trying to wake up. I will try to post my 13 day tour/cruise some time soon. It was a great trip for us, nothing but good things to say.

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=111111&cdt=2004;6;11;21;00;00&timezone=GMT-1000

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Sleddogs.... You should be just fine with your 12:40pm flight out of Vancouver. Just move swiftly all morning. icon_wink.gif Just when one thinks that they made it to the airport and will have hours to wait...is when they encounter the lines which can eat up an hour....or more.

 

Relax only when you get to your gate. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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Hello..Boston 1733!!!!! Good morning...or good evening....!

 

icon_wink.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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Who is the Cruise Director on the Summit. Carey Long was on the Galaxy when we sailed her. he was so funny! Hope he will be there July 9! Pam icon_cool.gif

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boo's mom, boston and 2tsquared,

 

Lauren and I enjoyed meeting you all. icon_biggrin.gif Glad to hear everyone is back home with "stories to tell!"

After 23 days I don't know where to start, so I will I will just offer up some "snapshots" from my stream of consciousness.

First thing I need to do is find someone who wants what's left of our Great Alaskan TourSaver book. We used nine coupons, and saved over $500, even when you consider the initial costs. We used coupons 14, 21, 30, 42, 46, 58, 79, 124 and 129. (Anchorage theatre, Seward Sealife center, Kenai Fjords NP cruise, Prince William Sound cruise, Alyseka Tram, Princess Kenai Lodge, Whale watching/Orca point and Southwest seakayaks.) If you are headed to Denali, Fairbanks, or want Flight coupons -- we used only 9 of the 135 coupons. Planning on spending a lot of time on land, on your own, you are welcome to have this book. Just let me know, and I will send it to you at no cost. You can go to www.toursaver.com and see what is available. Leave a message on this thread, with your email, and I will get your home address and send it your way.

Enjoy! Kel

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Hi Kelmac, I would be ever greatful if you would be so kind as to send me the remains of your toursaver book. I am so glad you all had such a great trip.

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=191970&cdt=2004;7;04;12;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500

UNTIL OUR FIRST ALASKA CRUISE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PamKev..... The Cruise Director on the Summit is currently Simon Weir.

 

He is pretty funny.

 

"Suck it in, Sir!" Does anyone remember that line? icon_biggrin.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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We had him on our First Galaxy cruise a couple of years ago. he was great then! Pam icon_cool.gif

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Boo's Mom,

Thanks for the reply re: Vancouver airport.

We will definitely try to be on the ball and get off the ship asap. I imagine they must give you a questionnaire on board before disembarking, asking for info on your flights for the return home? They've always done that on previous cruises and then give us specific color coded tags for our luggage. Our TA has also provided Celebrity with our flight info which should help.

 

Re: Cruise Tags~~this year I'm bringing sturdy twist ties as last time our luggage tags (the cruiseline ones) were accidentally pulled off by whoever was bringing down our luggage on the last night. It took us half an hour to find our bag the next morning. This bag was placed in a totally different room than the rest of our luggage due to the lack of a tag. Those thin strings don't always stay put.

 

Sounds like you made lots of nice friends on your trip. It's funny, but sometimes we meet folks on the next to the last day of a cruise, usually on an excursion, we get along great, and then wish we had met sooner. Sometimes you find you just "click" with certain people and have lots in common. In any case, we always have fun. That's what cruising is all about!

 

Thanks again! Sleddogs icon_smile.gif

 

Carnival Fascination 8/00 (Southern Carib)25th Anniversary

Norwegian Sky 8/01 (Alaska) Enchantment of the Seas 8/02 (Western Carib)

Carnival Destiny Family Cruise 8/10/03 (Southern Caribbean)

Celebrity Summit 12 night Alaska cruise tour 8/2004

Jewel of the Seas 12 night British Isles/Norwegian Fjords 7/2005~~30th Anniversary

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Sleddogs..... Yes, as you are checking in @ Embarkation, they will give you a form to fill out regarding your return flight information. They want you to turn it in to Guest Relations within a day or so.

 

The tags for the luggage are no longer strings. They are one long piece that is folded in half and stuck together (like a big sticker). It held up real well.

 

Making friends: Yes, I so hear what you are saying. A cruise provides literallly hundreds of opportunities to meet people....and we have met many nice folks along the way. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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Sleddogs..... I see that you are scheduled for an anniversary cruise in July 2005!!!! Good for you!

 

I was visiting with my husband tonight about the possibility of taking a cruise in 2006 (15 year anniversary) (just he and I....no children)...while the girls are at summer camp. He wasn't real keen on cruising without them....I'll have to visit with him more about that. icon_wink.gif

 

Boo's Mom

 

Even the winds and the waves obey him!

Matthew 8:27

 

 

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