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Personal experience: what surprised me the cruise to Alaska

Elizabeth Aquino embarked on an 8-day cruise to Alaska. She spoke about the things that surprised her the most. Insider.

Photo: IStock

Her family of six took a cruise to Alaska on the Celebrity Millennium. During the trip, they visited places such as Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and the Hubbard Glacier.

Even though Elizabeth has already been on five cruises with her family, this was the first cruise since the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and some things surprised her.

“Even though it was summer, it was cold and sometimes too foggy to see anything. When most people book a cruise in the summer, they imagine relaxing by the pool, frozen margaritas and shorts,” says Elizabeth. The ports we visited in Alaska were quite warm, but the days at sea were cold. It was often too windy to enjoy any outdoor activities such as movies in the open-air cinema or games by the pool.”

They also looked forward to passing through the scenic Inside Passage of Alaska, but it was too foggy to see anything.

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There were blankets all over the deck by the pool - she took a few to keep warm on the balcony of her cabin. And on a very cold trip to the Hubbard Glacier, the crew handed out hot chocolate to everyone outside.

But if you can't argue with the weather, there were things that the cruise crew could change. For example, Elizabeth expected that there would be more food options during the day.

“Despite the fact that there were many specialties for dinner and a huge buffet on the pool terrace, we sometimes returned tired and hungry from our excursions and realized that there was nowhere to eat before dinner,” she says. – The buffet was closed between lunch and dinner, except for the pizzeria. Even the burger place on the pool deck was not available.”

Elizabeth is glad she packed the sleep masks.

In Alaska, the sun rose at 3 am and set at 10 pm. Having an eye mask helped her maintain a regular sleep schedule.

“I definitely recommend taking it with you, especially if you are a light sleeper like me,” the woman says.

Even though hand sanitizer and masks were provided on the ship, Elizabeth did not see many guests using them.

Since this was her first cruise since the pandemic, she was curious what medical protocols would be in place, if any. For example, guests were required to test negative for COVID-19 to board the ship. Her family members also provided vaccination certificates.

“I didn't notice any social distancing measures on board, but I did see staff frequently wiping down buttons, tables and other high touch surfaces. In addition, there was hand sanitizer near the dining areas,” she says. “I also appreciated that they gave guests reusable masks with Celebrity branding, but I rarely saw anyone wearing them. However, all the employees I saw were wearing masks.”

The onboarding process and safety briefing were surprisingly easy, according to Elizabeth.

Unlike many of the other cruise lines she sailed with, Celebrity only required passengers to watch the video and check in at the muster point as part of a mandatory safety briefing.

They went there as soon as they stepped on the ship and were then free to roam and go to the cabins, which made it the fastest briefing Elizabeth had ever seen.

“Overall, it was the most relaxed boarding experience I have ever experienced,” says Elizabeth.

They used phones a lot more than expected.

Passengers could make restaurant reservations, check the daily itinerary, and even preview the dinner menu in advance through the Celebrity app.

The total cost of the cruise included the basic Wi-Fi package, which mostly only worked for the app.

“We used the messaging feature to stay in touch by setting up a group chat to let each other know where to meet and send reminders to book dinner or tour times,” she says. “It was important to keep my phone charged so I could stay in touch with my family and easily know what was going on on the ship.”

Celebrity offers passengers a basic drink package as part of their original fare.

The family stuck to the classic drink package, which covered any drink up to $9.

“If we wanted to buy drinks that were not included in our rate, like a premium cocktail, we only had to pay the difference,” Elizabeth said. “I don't drink much alcohol, but luckily there was a coffee shop on the ship that was covered by my package. The main highlight was the availability of unlimited iced lattes and signature hot teas.”

Although there were signs in the dining room stating that slippers and shorts were not allowed, that certainly didn't stop anyone, as Elizabeth observed.

“I have noticed that many guests do not follow the dress code during dinner, but they are still allowed to be in the dining room,” she says. “Furthermore, formal evenings called for “evening chic,” which Celebrity describes as “a modern take on evening wear,” citing cocktail dresses and designer jeans as examples.”

Some of the passengers were wearing dresses and heels, but she was able to wear sandals and a sundress, which was more comfortable, Elizabeth says.

She could order almost any meal to the room service cabin, even food from the main dining room.

“I could order anything from the main dining room — even a plate of Wellington beef — and request delivery to my cabin,” Elizabeth says.

“We brought magnetic hooks to hang laundry bags on, and my brother and dad hung a shoe rack over the adjacent door to maximize the space,” she said.

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To further personalize the cabin, they placed magnets they bought from various ports on the cabin door.

“Usually my parents dine in the main dining room and not in the specialty restaurants, but when we found out that Le Petit Chef – an exciting XNUMXD dining show featuring “the world's smallest chef” – was offered on board, we booked a table immediately,” says Elizabeth.

Dinner, which costs about $55 per person, includes a cartoon chef projected onto the table and plates.

“It was surprisingly touching and the food was quite delicious, especially after the little animated chef cooked it in front of us,” she says.

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