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Shannon Chapman

Age: 34


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: July 9th, 2004

Itinerary: Alaska

First and foremost, this was by far the best trip my husband and I have been on. This was our first cruise. I am 34 and my husband is 41. We have two children ages 10 & 7. We live in Las Vegas and we have traveled extensively. Our children have traveled with us and are “very well behaved”. We are very accustomed to good service. Living where we do, we have fabulous restaurants. We love good food and wine.

I wanted to take a cruise with our children, my dad and aunt. My dad is very outdoorsy and doesn’t like a lot of “fluff”. He (my dad) is a mining engineer. He has worked for the US Forest Service and the USGS. He has worked in Alaska on several occasions. If he had it his way he would camp throughout Alaska. My husband’s idea of camping is Motel 6 and no room service. My aunt has never married and is very shy. We didn’t want to feel like we had to dress up every night. So, I had to find a ship and a cruise line that would appeal to everyone. I did a lot of research on cruise lines. Especially specific ships. I also wanted a good itinerary that would allow us to see as much of Alaska as possible. I decided on Celebrity for the service based on reviews from Fodor’s, Frommer’s and Conde Nast. Also, Celebrity was rated higher in the food category.

My husband was extremely “cool” on the idea of cruising, especially with our kids and other family. I had some airline credit that had to be used so I made our own travel arrangements. My husband was very concerned that it would be difficult to get our luggage to the ship and that we would never see it again.

I chose the Celebrity Summit, Seward to Vancouver. We flew to Anchorage the day before departure and took a cab to the Marriott. The next morning we took cab to the train station. My husband was completely relieved when they took our luggage with the cruise ship tags and said that it would be delivered right to our stateroom. We then boarded the Alaskan Railroad train to Seward. The train ride from Anchorage to Seward was completely spectacular, and if that was the only part of our trip it would have been fine. We arrived in Seward at 12 noon and could see the ship. Celebrity didn’t have any agents or buses. (I think they should have) We walked down to the terminal which was maybe a 10 minute walk and checked in. The whole process (checking in) took about 10-15 minutes as we were the first people there.

On board the ship, they served Champagne and had a small lunch buffet in the Waterfall Café. Later, we found the Waterfall Café by the pool served hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and tossed pastas. We were able to get into our rooms at 1pm. We had connecting Concierge Class rooms, 9141 and 9145. My dad and aunt had an inside stateroom 9147 across the hall. The rooms were bigger than I thought they would be and had plenty of space for our clothes. We had the chilled bottles of Champagne and bowls of fruit as Celebrity advertises. I didn’t see a difference with the mattress or pillows compared to my dad’s room. Around 4, our stateroom attendant (Martha) brought appetizers to our rooms. We roamed around the ship. We got our luggage around 5pm. That night they had a casual dinner in the main dining room (Cosmopolitan). I thought the food was OK considering they feed 2000 people. The menu had a meat, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dish. They also had a children’s menu.

The next day we sailed to Hubbard Glacier. It was a fabulous day!! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was warm and the visibility was great. The Glacier was spectacular and by then my husband had decided that this cruise was a “great idea”. A native from Yakutat boarded the ship on the way to the glacier and gave some interesting facts on the area. That night we went to the Cosmopolitan for the first formal dinner. My dad didn’t come, he decided to hang out at the pool bar and have a hamburger. The food was again OK. It wasn’t as good to remember what I had….We went to the Celebrity Theater to see the show. I can say that it was good. But remember that I live in Las Vegas. So I can’t compare it to the shows here.

Day two, port in Juneau. We arrive at 8am, shortly after we disembarked the ship and went in town. On this day we had decided not to do any excursions rather, we would shop and hang out at The Red Dog Saloon. We ate lunch at restaurant right off the ship. We went back to the ship and decided not to eat again in the dining room for dinner we took a chance on trying to find something in Juneau. There isn’t a lot by the docks, and what was there was packed. We ended up back on the ship at the casual dining area at the back of the ship. Timothy, the Matre D. sat us down even though we didn’t have a reservation. This was the casual dining that you can order off a menu and be served. We found that this dining area was much better that the main dining room, the food was cooked to order and we didn’t have to be on a time schedule.

Day three, port in Skagway. We arrived early a disembarked the ship by 7:30 to go on the White Pass Railway and the “historic” Liarsville. We boarded buses that took us to this camp called Liarsville. It was supposed to be like a mining camp of the 1800’s. It was cute enough, but we could have done without it. We boarded the busses again and we up the mountain to the Canadian border to meet the train. Again, this train ride was fabulous. Lots of stunning scenery and a great history lesson as well. When we got back to Skagway we found 3 other cruise ships in port. The town was wall-to-wall people. Finally found a place to eat. We weren’t able to get into The Red Onion. We went back to the ship to go swimming. That night my husband took my aunt and me to the Normandie restaurant on the ship. The food was fabulous and the service impeccable. We had Chateaubriand and table side Caesar salad. The menu was great and the food was prepared perfectly. It was as good as any 5 star restaurant in any big city. My dad took our kids to the casual dining room and had a great time as well.

Day four, port Icy Strait Point. We had to “tender” into the dock, they had the passengers assemble in the lounge and gave out passes to those who had booked excursions first. My son thought the “life boats” were great. When we got to the dock we found our guide for the Brown Bear Search. Our guide was a local from the town there called Hoonah. She was a true Alaskan. She told us about the area and how difficult like has been since they stopped logging and put restrictions on fishing. This town and the tribe had decided to generate income they would refurbish the cannery and offer tours to the cruise ships. We went in search of the bears. To locals bears are like dogs, they are everywhere. Of course when the tourists want to see them, that is entirely different. We boarded a small bus that took us into a beautiful valley. We stopped and walked down a path to some platforms the locals had built. At the platform was one of the local police officers with a HUGE dog and a gun (just in case). It made us feel a lot safer having him there. After a while of looking we did see a bear. He was out in the tall grass and far away. But we did see a bear! This little stop was a great lesson to all who visit. The people of Hoonah were gracious hosts. We had a great lunch right on the dock and took a tender back to the ship. That night we ate again in the casual dining room.

Day five, port Ketchikan. Again on this day, we had to tender into the dock, as there were other cruise ships there. I was concerned when we got there. It was overcast and we had a seaplane and boat ride to Misty Fjords booked. But our luck on the trip had been sun everyday and that is just what we got! We again assembled in the lounge and took the tenders into Ketchikan. Boarded buses and got to the seaplane dock. My dad was so excited to get this particular plane that was built before he was born. I couldn’t tell you what the name of the plane is. But my dad thought it was great! We had a fabulous flight to Misty Fjords and landed at a platform in the water where a sightseeing vessel picked us up. We had to wait an hour or so for some people from another ship that were running late, it wasn’t so bad. The captain took us on a cruise around some of the fjords. After we picked everyone up they served a great lunch of smoked salmon dip, veggies and chowder. My dad was very impressed with our guide. Again, another local who talked about the effects of the restrictions of logging and fishing on the people. Misty Fjords National Monument is something like 2.2 million acres of untouched pristine beauty. This was a fabulous excursion!! After we got back we walked around town to get some last minute souvenirs. My dad found a great tee shirt at one of the old brothels. We went up Creek Street where a lot of local craftsmen have their goods. We also went to the Tongass hard wear store. My aunt and I spent quit a while there. It was a great store. We had a late lunch at a local place by the dock. By that time our ship had docked. We were supposed to sail at 8pm but we didn’t. The ship had a transformer problem. They announced that we would set sail as soon as it was fixed. At midnight they had this huge buffet in the dining room. This I will have to say was the lowest point of the cruise. They talk about this “Grand Buffet”. Well, you get there at midnight and ALL of the passengers come too. They parade you around the food for an hour. All of the people take photos of it. It was very late, my daughter having a “moment” had to be sent back to her room. It was a pretty presentation, don’t get me wrong. In my opinion this “Grand Buffet” was a disappointment to us. Now, remember we live in Las Vegas where they have these buffets at every hotel 3 times a day. So really it was no big deal to us. We were tired of “looking” at the food and decide to go to bed. When we went back to our room we noticed that our ship was still in port. I would have been happy if we would have had to stay an extra day in Ketchikan……

Day six, Inside Passage. We woke up to the ship moving. Guess they fixed the problem. My dad hanging around the pool bar found out that we wouldn’t be cruising through the inside passage due to the delay in Ketchikan. The Captain had us at full speed, you could feel it. This was the only day where we felt some rocking motion. I spent the day packing and getting our luggage together. While having breakfast, our waiter from the main dining room asked where we had been, and if he had done anything wrong or if the food was not good. I explained that we had been eating in the other parts of the ship and not to worry. We decide to eat again in the main dining room that night. The food was again OK. I don’t mean to sound like a snob. But you could tell that it had been prepared hours earlier. After dinner we went down to the photo gallery and picked up our photos, and actually some were really great! As we were going back to our room we realized we were in the Inside Passage and I ran up to deck 10 for some photo ops. It was just beautiful at sunset!!

Day seven, Vancouver. We had purchased airport transfers from Celebrity. We were again assembled and taken off the ship in groups. We boarded busses and were transferred to the airport. Our luggage arrived about an hour later. All in all, the luggage situation worked out just fine.

My kids had a great time. I would say that there were probably 100 children on the cruise. There were retired people and there were young people without children. I think it was a good mix. The only thin I would say is not to waste the extra money on the Concierge Class staterooms. I didn’t see difference in service. Also, those rooms on deck 9 are right under the Waterfall Café at times we could hear the bustling of passengers and workers. If you are going on a cruise, make sure you do your homework on the ships. It really paid off for us. It was a fabulous literary, the service was great. We had the best time and will definitely cruise Celebrity again.

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