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David

Age: 37

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises:

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: September 8th,2006

Itinerary: n/a

Celebrity Cruise Line
Mercury Cruise Review
Alaska

David

Alaska Cruise
9/8/2006 for 7 nights
From Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard glacier, Ketchikan, Inside Passage.

Introduction
We are a couple in our mid-thirties traveling with 2 young kids. We've done 1 prior cruise on Carnival Ecstasy 4 years ago to Baja Mexico.

Embarkation
Very quick and easy, it took only about 15 minutes to get into the ship.

Service
Service was very good, just like the Carnival cruise we did before.

Seasickness
I am always puzzled by how very few people mention this their reviews. My wife and I tolerate motion pretty well. However, for the first 2 days of the cruise, the ship ventures out to the open ocean (meaning not in the inside passage). Sometimes, the sea can be rough. We had the misfortune of running into worse than usual weather/waves. We felt moderately nauseated but did not get physically ill. The kids tolerated the motions fine. Many fellow passengers had difficulty, as evidenced by the number of people calling room service for remedies, and those who missed dinner in the dining room. However, once the ship was closer to the shore and in the inside passage, the sea was very calm.

Stateroom
"Sky suite", with about 300 square feet, plus a private veranda which was almost as big as the room. From there, we saw whales, dolphins, and some nice views of glaciers. Nicely furnished, clean. Bathroom was spacious (for a ship). We had our own butler.

Kid's activities
To leave a kid at the kid's club, the kid needs to be 3 years old and potty trained. Also, we had to come get the kid for lunch and dinner. So, only our son qualified, but he refused to be left there when Mom, Dad and baby sister were leaving to have fun. During the entire cruise, our son attended the kid's program only once. Because we wanted to have some alone-time, we hired a in-room baby sitter, who seemed to take good care of both kids for 4 hours.

Food
For both me and my wife, the food was somewhat of a disappointment. Maybe our expectation was too high based on the high praise that Celebrity receives about their food. But the quality of the food was about the same as that we experienced on the Carnival cruise 4 years ago. Many dishes at the main dining room were good to very good, but I would not say spectacular. The main problem is that the food emphasized French cuisine too much. We had classic French dishes like Coq au Vin. Many sauces were based on butter and red wine. While sometimes good, the food became a little tiresome a couple days into the cruise. I suppose this is not surprising because the chef who designs the menus on Celebrity ships is Michel Roux, a French chef. Still, they should bring in other talents, and have Asian, Fusion, Italian dishes as well. The kids, however, really enjoyed the endless amount of food, especially all the desserts.

One high point is that they have sushi every night from 5-10pm, which was good. We often ate sushi at 5 pm, then ate our main dinner later. Another highlight is the Cova Cafe of Milan. Celebrity replicated the famous Italian cafe in their ships. We had the best croissants and European pastries here.

Another highlight (I guess we did enjoy several aspects) was the lobster night, a formal evening. We decided to eat in our cabin because we didn't bring formal attire. Our butler took our order. We ordered 3 lobsters. The butler brought 4. And these were huge lobster tails, with melted butter and lemon on the side. Very satisfying.

The buffet food was not as good as the main dining room.

Activities
The nightly shows in the main theater varied from fair to good. The Celebrity Dancers and Singers were mediocre, definitely not as good as your average Las Vegas performers. The comedian was good. The aerial acrobats were good.

Spa
Because there weren't too many activities we could do with the kids, we decided to take turns to go to the spa for massages. My wife had a whole body massage. She said it was average, not as good as a local masseuse she found near our home. I tried a combo hot stone massage and scalp massage. The back rub with the hot stone was good and something I have not experienced before. But the scalp massage was a letdown. There was hardly any pressure put on my scalp. I asked for more pressure, but I didn't notice a significant difference.

Excursions
First of all, it rains 90% of the time in Juneau and Ketchikan. Skagway has good weather. In Juneau, I did a 4 mile guided hike next to the Mendenhall glacier. It was nice seeing some waterfalls and lots of trees and mushrooms. Also, I saw the glacier toward the end of the hike. My most memorable hikes were in the Hawaiian islands, especially Kauai.
In Skagway, all 4 of us went on a bus tour to the top of the mountain, into Canada. It was ok.
In Ketchikan, my wife did a wilderness tour on boat and ate some crabs at the end. She thought it was ok.

I guess we weren't too impressed with the ports. The 3 towns all looked about the same, and had the exact same stores selling trinkets, jewelry, t-shirts, etc. In fact, within walking distance of the docks, all you see are these same shops catering to tourists.

We've done helicopter tours before in Hawaii, and hence had no desire to do one in Alaska.

Disembarkation
Very simple. After breakfast, we were designated to meet in the movie theater at 9am. Then we walk straight off the ship, pick up baggage, give the customs official a form (who did not even check it), and you are done. Very fast.

Summary
Would we cruise Celebrity again? Probably not. The food is not significantly better than Carnival. The kid's program is much better at Carnival. I also heard from multiple sources that the food on Princess is quite good, with more variety, e.g. Asian and international flavors. I think Celebrity cuisine is overrated, but it's probably good for people who love French cuisine above all else (but I haven't met too many who do).



 

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