Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Overall Service.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
My wife and I traveled to Alaska from July 7 to July 19, 2013. We were part of a group of 57 that was put together by our local travel agent. We spent the first 5 days of our trip on land and the last 7 days sailing on the Celebrity Millennium. The entire trip was coordinated by Celebrity. Let me say up front that the cruise portion of our trip was far superior to our experiences on the land portion. I will describe each day of our trip in chronological order.
Day 1: We flew into Anchorage on Air Alaska and spent the first night at the Anchorage Marriot. It was a nice hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel we met our tour guide, Patricia, who would be with us for the entire land tour. Patricia gave us some information and handed us our room keys. We ate supper at the Simon & Seaforts restaurant. The meal was good but quite expensive (we later learned that this would be the case throughout Alaska).
Day 2: We rode the Alaska Express train to Talkeetna, about a 4 hourtrip. The ride was smooth and the train is a two story with the top having a glass ceiling which made for easy viewing of the scenery. We had a guide who was quite knowledgable. On the lower level was the dining car. Most everyone had breakfast there and that was enjoyable. I would recommend the blueberry pancakes. They were quite good. Full breakfast was around $12 and that included the beverage, not bad for Alaska standards. We were seated with a couple from Mississippi who we really liked and ending up socializing with them throughout our entire trip. We spent the night at the Talkeetna Lodge and it was very nice. Sometimes you can see Mt. McKinley from the lodge, but it was not visible during our stay. We took a river float excursion and there were only 5 people it the raft. Corky, our guide, was very knowledgable. We saw an eagle in its nest and a beaver dam up close. We had dinner that night at the Foraker Restaurant at the lodge. The meal was good and the dessert that I ordered, a giant piece of chocolate cake with raspberry filling encased in a ganache, was the best dessert I had on the whole trip.
Day 3: We boarded the Wilderness Express again for the 4 hour trip to Denali. This time we were served lunch in the dining car but it was not as good as the breakfast yesterday. The crab bisque, however, was very good. We would spend the next two nights at the McKinley Village Lodge in Denali. It was by far the worst accommodations of our entire trip. The room was dirty and it lacked amenities. They put paper cups in the room instead of glasses. To top it off, my wife and I were given a handicapped room which included a hand held shower that was mounted on the side wall. There was no way to shower except to hold the nozzle with one hand, making it very difficult to wash yourself. There was no place to put toilet articles in the bathroom and one very small garbage can for the entire bedroom. The first evening we took an excursion to Husky Homestead. This is where they raise and train dogs to run in dogsled races, specifically, the Iditarod Race. The speakers were very good and my wife loved holding the puppies. We ate at the restaurant at the lodge and just had sandwiches. The price was reasonable.
Day 4: Our second day in Denali and it was the worst day of our vacation. We took an 8 hour excursion into Denali National Park. By rule only school buses can enter the park. The road is all dirt and it rained all day. We saw very little wildlife and only left the bus to use the rest rooms. The windows on the bus got muddy and it was hard to see anything. The driver, Nancy, was knowledgeable and very nice. She stopped numerous times to clean the bus windows but they were dirty again in 5 minutes. They provided us with a box lunch and it wasn't very good. We and everyone else on the bus wished we had missed this excursion. To make up for the rotten day, we went to what was said to be the best restaurant in Denali-the McKinley Chalet. My wife and both ordered the most expensive meal on the menu-$39 each. It was a twist on surf and turf with salmon and filet. It turned out to be a very small portion with a small piece of salmon and a filet about the size of a silver dollar. It was served with barley and broccoli. The meal added to the disappointment for the day. We toured the town shops which had basically the same stuff, overpriced tourist junk. We were glad to see this day come to an end.
Day 5: We rode a bus to Anchorage where we had a quick stop for lunch on our own. We ate at the Glacier Brewhouse. We had wood fire grilled pizza and it was very good. We then traveled to the Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood. This is a ski lodge that is open all year and it was beautiful. It was easily the nicest place we stayed in Alaska. We were sorry that we only got one night there. The amenities were numerous. There was no time for an excursion so we went to supper at a place called the Double Musky. We had a feeling it was going to be good when we saw the large number of locals eating there. The food was good and the portions were plentiful. I would have liked to get a steak but they were huge (16 oz for a fillet and 20 oz for strip steaks). I wouldn't have been able to finish it and there was no way to "take it home." My wife and I got shrimp dishes and they were good.
Day 6: They gave us the morning of next day to do things so we rode the tram to the top of the mountain and the view was breathtaking. We got to stand in snow in July! There is a restaurant at the top and it is extremely expensive but the view is great. I heard of a couple who spent $160 for their meal the night before. We rode the shuttle into Girdwood and had lunch at a small place (I wish I could remember the name of it). We then boarded our bus in the afternoon and headed to Seward to meet our ship. Celebrity is the 4th different cruise line that we have been on having sailed previously on Carnival, Princess, and Norwegian. We boarded the Celebrity Millennium and it was the easiest boarding procedure of any of our cruises. We had a good first night dinner and saw a good show featuring a Motown tribute trio called Horizon. Following are some general comments about the Celebrity Millennium experience:
1) We ate all of our dinners in the Metropolitan Dining room. We had regular seating at 6:00 with two other couples from our group. This meant we had the same wait staff at every meal. My wife and I had intended to eat at one or two of the pay restaurants on the ship as we had done on previous cruises. However, the food and service was so good in the Metropolitan we never did. The food was excellent every single night. It was the best dining room food we have had on any of our cruises. Our waiter, Ali, and his assistant, Jun, were great. The maître-d, Ajay, was more involved with us than any I have ever seen.
2) In contrast, the buffet served on board was the worst we have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Stuff was spread out all over the place and hard to find. Sections of the buffet were closed and various times of the day. I had breakfast there several mornings and my wife and I ate one lunch there. Each time I was disappointed. I tried several versions of eggs in the morning and they were never good. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast were served at the far end of the buffet area and inconvenient to get to. The buffet opened at 7:00 AM and some sections opened later. I would have preferred 6:00 AM as I am an early riser. The staff in the buffet area was fair at best.
3) Our cabin steward, Nonet, was excellent. He answered every request promptly and greeted us every time we saw him. I heard from others on the ship that they never saw their cabin steward. We were so impressed with Nonet I gave him an extra tip even though we were automatically charge a tip before boarding.
4) Ship disembarkment for excursions and the subsequent reimbarkment was handled well.
5) Our room was okay but our balcony was not. We had a partially obstructed view even though our cabin was not listed as having one. There was a pole on one side and a protruding corner on the other side. The balcony door worked funny and my wife and I actually got locked onto our balcony one time because of the handle on the door. The shower in the bathroom was the biggest that I have ever seen on a cruise boat.
6) The nightly shows were pretty good but they featured only one act that lasted an hour or less. A little more variety would have been better.
Day 7: This was a sailing day. My wife and I went to the gym. It is all machines with no free weights. To have a class you have to pay extra. The ship sailed near the Hubbard Glacier which was neat to see and provided some great pictures. The evening's entertainment was the ship's singers and dancers and they were good.
Day 8: This was our first stop in Juneau. We did the "Whale Watching, Orca Point, and Mendenhall Glacier," excursion. We rode on a very spacious and comfortable closed in boat. We saw several whales. They fed us lunch at Orca Point. It was good but not a lot of food was given. After getting off the boat, our bus took us to the Mendenhall Glacier. We enjoyed seeing this glacier. The evening's entertainment was a comedian who was not all that funny.
Day 9: We stopped in Skagway. We went on the Alaska Gold Rush Highlights excursion. We first rode a train along the mountains where the gold rush miners traveled. We met our bus at the Canadian border and drove into Yukon Territory. The bus driver, Davy, was very entertaining. We walked on a high suspension bridges which was neat. We had several scenic stops on the way back to Alaska. In Skagway they fed us a great buffet lunch that included ribs and salmon with plenty to eat. Then we heard gold miner stories by a re-enactor who taught us how to pan for gold. We all found some gold dust and we had ours made into a necklace for my wife. The evening's entertainment was again the ship's singers and dancers this time with a different program.
Day 10: We stopped at Icy Strait Point which was in Hoonah. We took the "Bike Trek and Ziprider" excursion. We were a little worried about an 8 mile bike ride, but the pace was very slow and the road was mostly flat. It was a nice way to see the town which is completely controlled by the native population. We stopped at a tree with an eagle's nest and actually saw the eagle fly right over us to the nest. We then took a bus ride that lasted over a half hour to go up 5,000 feet to ride the Ziprider. The ride up was worth it as the Ziprider was awesome with a 5,000 foot drop with speed up to 60 miles per hour. The evening's entertainment was a violinist who was very good and also funny.
Day 11: This was our last stop at Ketchikan. We took the "Ketchikan Highlights and Lumberjack Show," excursion. We could have done without the trolley ride around Ketchikan but the lumberjack show was quite entertaining. We had lots of time left for shopping and there were a lot of places to shop in Ketchikan. The show was once again the ship's singers and dancers with a different program.
Day 12: Our last full day on the ship and it was a sailing day. We made it a relaxing day and spent some time at the indoor pool and hot tubs. The last evening show was the violinist and the Motown tribute trio again.
Day 13: This was disembarkment day. The disembarkment procedure was poorly handled by Celebrity. We had to report to the theater at 8:15 and we sat there until well after 9:00. Since our flight home didn't leave until 4:10 PM we all took the Vancouver excursion. It was okay but we would have preferred and earlier flight to get home. We had a direct flight from Vancouver to Newark on Air Canada. It was the longest check in procedure we have ever experienced lasting about an hour and a half with numerous levels of security and customs. The Air Canada flight had a screen that showed movies and other things with a nominal fee for headphones or you could use your own as we did. That made the flight goes quicker. However, it was a 5 hour flight and Air Canada gave us nothing to eat.
In conclusion, Alaska is an interesting place but it did not live up to the hype that we had been told by so many people who went there before us. I would recommend that anyone planning to go to Alaska only take the cruise and skip the land portion of the package.
Celebrity Solstice Class
My wife and I have made 10 cruises with Celebrity Cruise Lines, The latest was in Celebrity Solstice. We have sailed in 5 different Celebrity ships including the Century, Millennium and Solstice classes. While the technical and engineering advances are indisputable, if you have cruised in a Millennium class ship, the passenger amenities in the Solstice class are a classic example of progress being change, but change not necessarily being progress. In comparison to the Century and Millennium classes Solstice was too crowded and all chrome and glitz. Although cabin locker and drawer space the Millennium and Solstice classes MAY be the same, storage space is much better laid out and more accessible in the Century and Millennium classes. Celebrity is currently "Solsticing" the Millennium class; I hope they don't go too far because in my opinion they have definitely "Carnivalized" Solstice.
For openers, there are only two banks of elevators, forward and midships. The 8 midships elevators are glass; your elevator choices are between acrophobia or claustrophobia. If you are acrophobic there are three ways to get to Oceanview Cafe aft on deck 14. In all three you would haveto use the forward elevators. On deck 11, you would have go aft and up several flights of stairs; on deck 12 or 14, you would have to cross a weather deck. Not a pleasant task in bad weather. The only way get to the main or specialty dining rooms without using the midships elevators or stairs is use the forward elevators and walk aft. The Library, Card Room and other public spaces overlooking the Grand Foyer also are unusable by passengers who have a problem with heights.
Additionally, the pool in the Solarium in the Solstice class in not a therapy pool as in the Millennium class, nor is it heated; you usually find more people around it than in it. You could hardly call the hot tubs heated either. The sign for the spa says to limit use to 15 minutes; good advice, any longer could result in a severe case of frost bite.
Trays are not used in the Oceanview Cafe. Bring one with you; we sure wished we had. There also are no food service lines; just food service stations, about 10. Consequently there is no traffic flow, resulting in a lot of people milling about. One group is checking out what's available at the food stations while the other is trying to get back to their table while balancing plates or bowls of food.
Here is how you would have to manage a breakfast of juice, coffee, milk and/or yogurt, and a plate of hot food. You put your silverware in your pocket, get your coffee and juice, then find a table; put those items there. Go get your plate of hot items and milk; if you also want yogurt you put either the milk or yogurt in your pocket. Then go back to your table and hope it hasn't been cleared or usurped by another passenger; by this time your coffee is cold. Your could reverse the fetching order; your choice is cold coffee and hot food or hot coffee and cold food. Unlike revenge, meals are not better served cold. You can be of good cheer though in the knowledge that the ship doesn't have to be bothered with policing or washing the trays.
After many attempts I finally decided the definition of insanity was, indeed, repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result. Alas, I eventually gave up on the 400 yard poached eggs. I call them 400 yard poached eggs because that is the distance I estimate the average golfer could drive one off the tee. You can get them either hardened or case hardened. If you want a drink before the show in the Solstice Theatre, take it to your seat with you and hope the other passengers do likewise because the leg room between rows of seating is restricted making drink service a challenge. Also sitting any length of time if you have leg issues can be painful. The Ensemble Lounge, Michael's Club and the specialty restaurants on the 5th deck are the only spaces in the ship up to Celebrity's past standard of elegance.
With the exception of the poached eggs, the food in Solstice was on a par with other Celebrity ships we have sailed in; and the service provided by the crew was up to Celebrity Cruise Lines' high standards. It is not my objective to discourage people from cruising in Celebrity, far from it. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, just hated the ship. We even booked our next two cruises onboard... in Celebrity Infinity. Celebrity will continue to be our first choice; however, we will NEVER cruise in another Solstice class ship. If the only choices were between a Solstice class ship and another cruise line we would not go or seriously consider the other cruise line!
We were disappointed in some of the changes made on the Reflection. We have thoroughly enjoyed Aqua Class and Blu dining on Eclipse,Solstice and Equinox.
Reflection had many more Aqua guests and squeezed the tables together,but should have been made larger. Also,there were children and a baby for dinner, completely inappropriate. We love children and babies,but dinner should be for adults.That is why we pay exrea for Aqua Class.
We enjoy dining in Blu. Breakfast time was a fiasco. Yhere were not enough waiters. The little sofas in the cabins were not sofas,but slabs of wood with hard pieces of foam on top. The quality of the food at dinner was just fair. I guess we cannot expext gourmet.
Our cabin attendant was superb. His Name was Ozy Fortado and he was the best we have ever had in 24 cruises. We are going again in April on the Equinox and hope everything will be as wonderful as it was when we were on there in January of this year. Happy Sailing.
Very nice ship, well layed-out balcony cabin (9178)and seemed clean. Cabin air was very dry so left balcony door open at night to get some moisture.
Over 1/2 the daily activities were fee only, many casino related. There are at least 4 fee only restaurants (some $40 per person), the usual art auction characters hawking dubious "collectibles" and the broadway type revue shows that are exceedingly bad with lip synching.
The comedians on board were excellant, 1 from the US, 1 from Wales and 1 from Ireland.
Food was passable, buffet on deck 14 was good altho every carved meat selection was extremely overcooked.
Breads and pastry were not good, french bread tasted stale and the morning croissants were harder than my head. Very poor pastry chef.
All in all, for a cheap cruise, not a bad deal, wouldn't rush back tho.
Just got back today (Sept 14/12) from a Celebrity Cruise on Millenium and it was the worst cruise I have ever been on, and have been on several. The food was so so, the varity of the food was poor, our cabin with a deck was tiny, the room was dirty, and the ship was plain. The entertainment was ok, but not great, and the debarkation was a disaster, with 3 ships getting out at the same time in Vancouver in a small area it was crazy. Many people missed flight the line up to get a cab was 500 people long.
Talked to one gal who worked there for 20 years said she never saw it so crazy. The could not get the luggage off the boat, they were backed up for hours. Will never book with this cruise line again. Also spent $150 for a photo package that had 10 photos, they gave me the CD but only let me look at the photos they already printed of us, and if I wanted them also it would cost even more then the $150. They said they wouldrather shred the photos then give them to me as part of a package, all I get is the CD.
About the critic
I am 51 years old, married, a Navy Captain, this was our 6th cruise, 3rd with celebrity.
There is no doubt upon arriving at the terminal, seeing the beautiful Equinox you can expect great things. She is three and a half years old and looks magnificent. The best way to offer meaningful commentary is to address each element separately.
as many other passengers have commented, this process was outstanding. We were aqua class room 1650, 11th deck starboard side aft. From the time of arrival to the terminal at 11:20 to being on board was 15 minutes. That said, our next objective should have been to make a bee line for the Oceanview cafe. The stateroom hallways were sealed off so roaming the ship or beginning the inevitable weight gain process at Oceanview were the only options. By the time we elected to get a bite to eat at 1230, there was absolutely NO place to sit. We were with another couple and eventually found separate seating. The rooms were available at 1:15.
Family of 6, ages 12 to 73. Cruised on RCCL, Carnival, NCL, Princess. We heard good things about Celebrity and wanted to try the newer Silhouette ship. We stayed on Deck 11, Aqua Class.
Embarkation/Debarkation: Very smooth and speedy. Grade: A
Ship's Appearance: Other than some odd artwork, ship looked very nice. Grade: A-
Food: Blu restaurant was quite good. Buffets were ample and tasty. One day they served an excellent brunch. Room service the best we've ever seen. Grade: A
Fitness Center: Machines were being used longer than the suggested 20 minutes, causing wait times. For 3100 passengers they need more machines. Grade: B-
Nightly Entertainment: First two shows were subpar. Acrobat show was very entertaining. Illusionist from Ireland rather annoying. Headline singer excellent. RCCL seems to have better overall entertainment. Grade: B
Ports: Cocoa Cay was fun. Been to St. Thomas and St. Martin so many times. Would rather see new islands like St Barts, etc. Grade: B
Cruise Director: Stuart was just okay, kids thought he was a dork. Grade: C
Ship Activities: For families, there isn't a lot of structured games, karaoke, or contests. Celebrity falls way short in this area vs. other lines.There were no pool contests. Kids activities rather weak. Basketball hoop in front of ship, forcing the kids to play in gale-force winds. The Family Feud game had 15 people show up. At times we became bored and just wandered to the buffet. Grade: C-
Cabin: Aqua Class cabin was fantastic, lots of space, great bathroom and shower. We opened the balconies to our three adjacent rooms. Outstanding. Grade: A
Staff: Overall, the staff was courteous and helpful, but I wouldn't say they made any impression like some staff on prior RCCL journeys. They needed to smile more and be friendlier. Some were indifferent and seemed like they didn't care for their job. Grade: B-
Casino: Typically tight slots, staff indifferent, poorly-executed tournaments. One Texas Hold Em table that was full with the same people every night. Grade: C
Ship Vibe: This is the area that would probably cause our family not to return to Celebrity. After 10 PM the ship basically shut down. The cruise director didn't inspire. Celebrity is definitely “stuffier” than other lines, even though this was a Christmas cruise. Grade: C-
Overall: The ship's layout was very easy to navigate. The lawn on the top deck is ill conceived. Most of the space is wasted. Why not build a putting course or movies under the stars? We liked the food quite a bit more than other lines. The cabin was perfect. Entertainment decent. Staff okay. Activities disappointing. Ship vibe less than stellar.
OVERALL GRADE FOR CRUISE EXPERIENCE ON SILHOUETTE: B
11 night cruise in balcony cabin on level 6. Nice cabin and large deck. Bathroom is one of the best we have had with a decent shower size. The ship was beautiful and roomy with lots to do on sea days. But, the food was nothing compared to what we experienced several years ago on Celebrity or other cruise lines since. Connecting to the internet was very complicated for many, especially trying to use your own devices. Because of the quality of the food we would not wish to take this ship again.
We love the new Celebrity Summit since it has now been "Solsticized" and we are Thrilled that Celebrity Cruise lines No LONGER serves Foie Gras due to the torture invloved in creating this liver dish. Now my family and friends can finally enjoy dinig at Normandie and The Murano restaurants! We did celebrate by partaking in the "Five Senses" wine pairing dinner at the Normandie.
The ship has a Hip and Modern feel mainly in the new venues including: BLU Restaurant, Bistro on 5 cafe, Cafe al Bacio, and Martini/Crush Bar. We LOVE Blu and we think the outdoor pool area is actually nicer than on the solstice class ships. It has a better flowing design and the 2nd pool is deeper. The Solarium on the Summit is not as Stunning as on the solstice ships, however, the pool is much, much, nicer: thallsotherapy pool and 4 large spigets that will massage your neck and shoulders.
The theatre is not noticably smaller and has comfortable bench seating and better shows that we saw on the 12 day Silhouette. The Main Dining room is Gorgeous and we think much prettier than the Solstice "HollywoodGlam" style.
We love this ship and we enjoyed the 5 stops on this cruise. Also, We discovered that you can fly Business/First on American and Delta for a tad more than coach when flying into san Juan. What a treat that was!
We will continue to travel on Celebrity for many reasons, mainly the great service, outstanding food, fun Martini Bar and Beer tastings at Michaels Club.
And now that Foie Gras is no longer available we feel good that we are not condoning animal torture by spending our vaction cash on this cruise line.
We were a party of six cruising the Panama Canal on the Infinity. All of us had been on Holland America last year (Eurodam), most of us had been with either Carnival, or other Celebrity cruises before.
I'd say the food was good to great. The soups were consistently disappointing (other than the French Onion Soup, which was ordered at least once every evening). Buffets were good, but not outstanding. Specialty restaurants ... we tried both and Qsine was absolutely off-the-charts great and a worthwhile experience. But on the whole, the food left us feeling like Holland America was a touch better.
Service (Jaya/Emilio) in the dining room was superior and staffing in general made for a great time. Be aware that you can get special deals on the Specialty restaurants (sometimes, even 2-4-1) later on in the cruise.
The itinerary certainly was enjoyable. If you take this cruise, definitely wait to do the zip line in Puerto Vallarta. One consideration ... for some people, 15 days is a long, long time to be at sea. Especially so if you have to consider time before and after cruising.
All said and done, it was agood cruise but not especially a great one. I believe Celebrity charges a premium price and at least on the Infinity are failing to provide the extra value that price commands. I considered long and hard while on the ship whether to take advantage of some deals to re-book ... and in the end declined. I think my vacation dollars will go back to Holland America or try Princess before I come back to Celebrity.