Age: Baby Boomer
Number of Cruises: Man
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: June 24th, 2005
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
The Group on the Mercury 7-Night Alaska Cruise
Celebrity Cruise Lines
7-Day Alaska Inside Passage
The Setup: I was the group escort and seminar facilitator for a group of 38 travel professionals aboard Celebrity Cruise Line's Mercury. I am not sure how many times that I have sailed the Mercury, but suffice it to say it has been a good number. I really like the Mercury and everything about her, hence my repetitive cruises. I recently reviewed the Mercury on a deep Mexican Riviera cruise and not much has changed on the ship so I will simply refer you to that review for details about the ship. You can find it here: http://www.cruisereviews.com/Celebrity/Mercury41.htm. I am going to share the travelogue portion of the cruise rather than review the ship again.
The Mercury in Seattle
Getting to the Ship
While I would normally fly into a port the day before a cruise, I was fairly certain that I would have no problem making the ship from San Diego flying into Seattle. I had made a reservation on Alaska Airline's non-stop flight from San Diego that got me into Seattle shortly after 11 am. This left me tons of options to still make the ship should there be any kind of delay to make the scheduled sailing time of 4 pm. Fortunately, the flight operated as planned and I was in Seattle about ten minutes early. I claimed my bags and then grabbed a taxi to take me to the port. I was at the terminal, ready to check in by 11:45 and was on the ship by 12 noon. It was absolutely painless.
The Mercury Docked in Seattle
Day One; Friday, June 24th,
2005; Seattle, Washington
I checked with the passenger relations desk to reconfirm the details of my group and then made my way to the Palm Springs Cafe and Grill for a wonderful lunch. The Mercury has an excellent salad bar and always offers a fish entree for lunch. I was very happy to be back on board her. After lunch, I made my way back to my cabin (cabin 1003) and found my luggage had already been delivered. I set my computer, printer, speakers and other electronic paraphernalia up and proceeded to unpack. Since I intentionally bring my tux on the ship in need of cleaning from the last cruise, I filled out the laundry slip and deposited my formal wear into a laundry bag. I had brought quite a bit of work with me, so I spent the afternoon in my cabin working until the dreaded lifeboat drill rolled around. Maybe it is me, but I think the U.S. government should have a class people could take about how to use a lifeboat. A stamp in their passport allowing them to pass on the lifeboat drill. It is never fun or entertaining and, in most cases, it is downright irritating to have to participate.
I returned to my cabin to continue working until it was time to attend the cocktail party I had arranged "Welcome Aboard" cocktail party arranged for 7:30 pm in the Navigator Club. I arrived in plenty of time to spend some moments with the group coordinator (an old friend at this point) and then began greeting my guests as they arrived. It turned out to be a wonderful group of folks and was just the beginning of an excellent week together. From the cocktail party we made our way down to the Manhattan Restaurant for dinner. I was fortunate to be sitting with wonderful people and the conversation continued through dinner into the evening. We missed the opportunity to attend the evening's show, but since I was doing a seminar in the morning, took the opportunity to excuse myself and retire for the evening.
Day Two, Saturday, June 25th,
2005; Cruising the Inside Passage
I was up quite early and decided to work out before the seminar. I made my way up to the fitness center and was pleased to discover a number of people also taking the time to take care of themselves. There seems to be so much self-indulgence on ships that I often wonder if people are aware of the impact unlimited calories may have on their bodies. After an invigorating workout, I returned to my cabin and prepared to give the seminar. We met in the Cinema (a great place for a presentation if you plan cruise groups) and were treated to coffee, juice, Danish and other treats. The seminar went quite well, and our group of travel professionals was already bonding.
After the seminar, I again visited the Palm Springs Cafe and enjoyed a wonderful and healthy lunch. I had promised to meet with one of the group members and did so before returning to my cabin to continue my work.
Cruising Alaska's Inside Passage
It is unfortunate that I have cruised this itinerary so often, as the scenery cruising up the inside passage is so breathtaking but I have become immune to its beauty. The late afternoon found me exhausted from the seminar and my work, so I made my way up to the Solarium to enjoy a wonderful Jacuzzi. It felt great, and I was fortunate to meet some hard-core CruiseReviews.com readers in the Jacuzzi who spotted my CR baseball cap. It is so fun to experience other avid cruisers that also have a passion for cruising.
I made my way back to my cabin, put on my just dry cleaned tux and made my way to the Pavilion Night Club to meet some of the members of our group for a pre-dinner cocktail. We had a great time. Dinner was excellent and the service was fantastic. We lingered until the last possible opportunity before missing the Captain's Gala Toast and the evening's show put on by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers (And The Winner Is). Doing the Captain's toast in the main theater makes so much sense. It not only allows people to arrive early for the toast, and they do not have to worry about finding a place to sit for the show, as they are already there.
Day Three, June 26th, 2005;
I always enjoy visiting Juneau. For some reason it just seems like the perfect Alaskan port. This visit was exceptional. After a quick breakfast, I spent some time in the Solarium enjoying the Jacuzzi and pool before heading to my cabin to do some work. We were scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 1:15, and we docked right on time. The weather could not have been nicer, with complete sunshine and warm temperatures. It was a perfect day for a helicopter tour of Juneau's glacier fields. So, the very first thing that we did upon leaving the ship was to make a reservation for a helicopter tour and a glacier landing with Coastal Helicopters.
The Interior of the Red Dog Saloon
We had some time before the transfer to the airport, so we decided to explore some of Juneau's back streets. We stopped at The Hanger Restaurant for some halibut and chips and then went on to the Red Dog Saloon for an Alaskan Amber before returning to the Mt Roberts Tramway and our shuttle to the airport.
Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier
We were picked up right on time and made our way out to the airport where we suited up for the helicopter flight. If you have not done this particular trip before, it is well worth doing. Nancy Norris did a special report on the flight that you can visit HERE. The flight went extremely well and everyone loved it. I had decided to dine on the ship even though we were in Juneau until 11 pm. I was glad I had made that decision as a good number of our group had also decided to take dinner on the ship. We had a wonderful time talking and enjoying the meal. Since I was tired from the day's events, I called it a night and passed on the show and Retro 80's party in favor of a good night's sleep.
Skagway as Seen From the Mercury
Day Four, June 27th, 2005;
We arrived in Skagway quite early (7 am). After an early breakfast in the Palm Springs Cafe I was off the ship ready to explore some of Skagway's sights that I had not seen before. We planned on walking to Jewell Gardens, a newer attraction that I had not visited before and then hit some spots on the way back. While the walk is terrific, the Gardens themselves were anticlimactic and expensive for what they offered.
Beautiful Reid Falls
A visit to Soapy Smith's grave site in the Skagway Cemetery, followed by a visit to Reid falls rounded out the sightseeing.
The Skagway Fish Company
We then took a brisk walk back into town and made our way to the Skagway Fish Company for some halibut and chips. We were treated to an excellent lunch before making our way back to the ship for its 3 pm sailing back down Lynn Canal. The cruising in Lynn Canal is almost as much fun as visiting Skagway. The canal is lined with steep cliffs, waterfalls, dense forest and an abundance of bald eagles. This is a great time to use your binoculars if you brought a pair.
After a stint in the Jacuzzi, I dressed for the early show. This evening was a production show entitled "Swing Train" starring the Celebrity Singers and Dancers. It was a great production and a "must see" as the music is upbeat and the range captivating. A group of us met for a pre-dinner cocktail, before going into our tables in the Manhattan Restaurant. It was another excellent evening event with much conversation and laughter.
Hubbard Glacier Panoramic View
Day Five, June 28th, 2005; Hubbard
Many people consider Glacier Bay as the most interesting attraction in Alaska, but I really prefer Hubbard Glacier. It is simply breathtaking. We entered Yukatat Bay early in the morning and made our way up to the glacier. It was calving actively, and experiencing a large calving event at Hubbard Glacier is an awesome experience.
The Face of Hubbard Glacier
The face of Hubbard Glacier is over 350 feet high, and the glacier itself must be almost a mile long. You can imagine seeing a whole section of the glacier simply collapse into the ocean. The noise is unbelievable, as is the enormity of the event. We stayed at Hubbard for a couple of hours and the Captain positioned the ship so that it would do a complete rotation about every 20 minutes. This allowed for everyone to get an equal view of the glacier and surrounding bay.
We left Yukatat Bay around 11 am and spent the afternoon cruising towards our next port. I took advantage of the time to complete some work in my cabin and enjoyed a Jacuzzi in the Solarium. I then met some folks in our group for cocktails in Michael's Club before attending the evening's show performed prior to late seating. I really liked this arrangement on the Mercury. Late seating was usually treated to an early show. This evening's entertainment was a comedian. I enjoyed his humor, but comedians are not my first choice of entertainment. Dinner was another wonderful dining experience, and everyone had bonded quite closely on this cruise. I managed to stay up for the 50's night in the Pavilion Nightclub before turning in for the evening.
The Mercury Anchored Off of Ketchikan
Day Six, June 29th,
2005; Ketchikan, Alaska
I awoke early in the morning to a less than stellar day. Clouds and light rain had moved in during the night making exploring Ketchikan a little less desirable. However, once we anchored and began the tendering process, I got motivated to go ashore and check out some things for PortReviews.com. After getting a huge latte at one of the coffee bars, I walked the entire shopping district of Ketchikan. I decided to visit the historical walk into Ketchikan's West End and walk the wood plank streets. While it was entertaining, I would not recommend this walk unless you have exhausted Ketchikan's other attractions. I met some of our group at the Arctic Bar for a beer and some halibut and chips from the Burger Queen take-out across the street. I am happy to report that they are still the best halibut and chips in Alaska and the servings are truly Alaskan sized.
Annabelle's Restaurant and Bar
Wanting to check out a lead that we had on another great dining venue, we made our way back into town to try Annabelle's Restaurant and Bar. Located just up the street from the tender pier, Annabelle's is a very fun, yet tourist friendly, bar that serves great food and drink. There was a huge tender queue, so we decided to sit it out in Annabelle's and almost missed the last tender to the Mercury. There were actually only 5 of us on the tender and as we boarded the Mercury, the tender was loaded and the ship pulled out.
I spent the afternoon relaxing in the solarium and enjoying the pool and Jacuzzi before taking a nap for a couple of hours in preparation for the evening events. Since it was the second formal night, I had arranged for a group photo to be taken and a no-host cocktail party prior to dinner. The photo went great and we all enjoyed the social hour before going into another wonderful dinner experience. My nap had given me some extra energy and I decided to attend the evening's production show with some of the folks in our group. The very talented Celebrity Singers and Dancers on the Mercury performed "A Touch of Broadway". It was an excellent performance.
Day Seven, June 30th, 2005;
Cruising the Inside Passage
We had our second seminar this morning, and it went flawlessly. Since everyone had bonded on this cruise, and we had a great time discussing our industry and related developments that were taking place. In fact, the seminar was over long before anyone wanted it to be. Many of us simply stayed in the Cinema for an hour or so longer than we had the room booked and then went to the Palm Springs Cafe to continue our conversation.
Cruising the Inside Passage is Simply Beautiful
The last day of a cruise is always a difficult day for me. I hate when the cruise starts to wind down and today was no different. After our long lunch conversation, I returned to my cabin to start packing and preparing to disembark in the morning. I visited the solarium for one last Jacuzzi and then dressed for the pre-dinner show. I ran into some of our group on the way to the show and ended up having a cocktail with them in Michaels Club instead. Dinner was another wonderful experience, as many lasting friendships had been formed. It is always wonderful to see the bonding that group travel tends to generate, and this group was a fine example.
The Mercury Back in Seattle
Day Eight, July 1st, 2005;
I was off the ship early and had a later flight to San Diego. So, I decided to visit some of the attractions in Seattle. There is a great concierge service at the pier where you can check your luggage for the day. Pikes Market is right up the hill from the cruise terminal and is well worth a visit.
The Flower Market in Pikes Market
If you have time before your cruise departs, visit Pike's Market and pick up some fresh flowers for your cabin. They are beautiful and inexpensive.
Colorful is the Only Way to Describe Pike's Market
You can easily spend a few hours searching through Pike's Market and have a really enjoyable time in this unique public market. Don't forget to explore the city of Seattle as well. I went south on the street that faces Pike's Market for several blocks. I passed the old underground Seattle and decided not to tour it but did take time to visit the Seattle Aquarium.
The Seattle Aquarium
After visiting the aquarium, I made my way back to the cruise terminal, claimed my luggage and then grabbed a taxi to the airport for my flight back to San Diego. All in all, it was a great cruise.