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Iphone Photo Review Solstice Alaska 8/19-8/26


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I benefited greatly from this forum when I was preparing for my Alaskan trip on Celebrity Solstice 8/19-8/26. I'm doing a photo review - just iPhone so no wow photos. I didn't save any dailies so don't have those to post, sorry.

 

Celebrity Suite 1233 - Luminae, Michael's Club

Ketchikan: Misty Fjords Air, visit with local family, Totem Bight Historical Park

Endicott Arm: JU94 - Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer

Juneau: JU63 - Alaska's Whales & Rainforest Trails

Skagway: Chilkoot Charters and Tours Bennett Scenic Journey

Victoria: walk to Empress Hotel

 

My twin sister and I (Christine "Ellie") take an annual sister trip, just us, leaving the guys at home to care for the cats. We were turning 50 this year so wanted something special. Sis was in Seattle, me in Baltimore. We've mostly done Caribbean vacations as we love to snorkel. We'd never cruised before - our significant others and immediate family have been reluctant or disinterested - so we decided to go ourselves. As sis was in Seattle we picked Alaska. Sis had been to Anchorage before for work and had taken the ferry to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka, staying several days in each location. I'd never been and never seen whales nor glaciers.

 

We originally considered a Disney cruise. We've done a lot of Disney - I had an annual pass for Disney World again last year and did 4 trips. We knew they'd have high quality. We worked with a travel agent friend of my sister's who presented several options. For cheaper than a Disney Wonder Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom w/Verandah we could have a Solstice Celebrity Suite with butler, Luminae, Michael's Club, two perks (chose $300 OBC and unlimited internet), and departure direct from Seattle instead of Vancouver. Even better, Solstice departed on our birthday so we could celebrate the whole first week of 50 together. We were equally interested in the ship and the itinerary. After some quick research, we booked Solstice early September.

 

I flew out Wed Aug 17th to be safe. I admit I overpacked. I had an Eagle Creek EC Adventure 25" checked bag weighing in at 26.5 pounds. Carry-on was Travelpro Maxlite 3 Rolling Tote 14"x16" and a very old small 13"x16.5" Jansport backpack. For warmth I had a primaloft stuffable jacket, scarf, mini stretch gloves (the ones that look like they should fit a child), and Gore Tex rain jacket and pants (I crew on a sailboat and I *hate* being wet) - all of which fit into my backpack with my binoculars in their soft case. No hat as I don't wear hats. Additionally, 2 polartec tops, Thermaskin long underwear (which I never used), Sporthill Traverse II pants, and North Face Ultra 109 GTX trail running shoes - super lightweight. Luckily suites only have to dress Smart Casual in Luminae so no fancy clothes. 3 polyester|rayon and spandex dresses that wouldn't wrinkle with black cardigans, open toe slingback black heels, flip flops, dressy black thong sandals, LL Bean Perfect Fit black pants with 4 dressy tops, 5 casual sleeveless or short sleeve tops, 1 long sleeve top (which I never wore), pair of cotton capris and cotton long pants, both navy. I wore on a pair of tan capris. I know, scary amount of clothes. First time cruiser and well, I always overpack, so can't just blame that.

 

Departure day was sunny and glorious with temps in the 90s.

 

Got to Pier 91 at 11:30 and quickly dropped off my 25" bag and my sister's rolling bag along with a tied by handles reusable shopping bag containing 8 rolls of toilet paper, box of Puffs Plus, liquid Softsoap, and pump of Purell. We like soft toilet paper and prefer liquid hand soap to bar soap. We were diligent hand washers - used all the hand soap!

 

We continued inside up the escalator and through security.

 

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I had checked in online. The suite check in line was short. It only took a few minutes to have our pictures taken for our Seapass cards. We were asked to wait with another couple to be escorted onto Solstice.

 

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I passed on the welcome champagne or mimosa as we wanted to explore and I wanted my hands free for taking pictures. My sis doesn't drink alcohol.

 

We were led to Michael's Club on deck 5 which is the same level you embark/disembark in Seattle. We left our carry on bags and went to explore the ship.

 

John Garbutt, in suit behind bar, was the Michael's Concierge. Michael's Club never looked much busier than this whenever we visited.

 

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Looking over at Explorer of the Seas, which left/returned same days as Solstice.

 

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The public bathrooms are lovely with small cloth hand towels.

 

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Edited by twins_to_alaska
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Luminae was open for lunch so we headed there.

 

Quick stop in the Solstice Theater.

 

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Luminae is on deck 3 starboard, entrance on other side of stairwell from the Grand Epernay. It has 2 rooms. We sat in the back room which was less crowded for all but one meal.

 

We loved Luminae. Service was exceptional. Our regular servers were O'Neil from Jamaica and Paolo from, we think, the Philippines. Diverse international crew. They were friendly, informative, patient (a lot of change requests from the regular menu), and funny. Luminae was quiet and never full when we ate. Never made or asked to make reservations. We only waited once to be seated - just one pair before us. It was a pretty venue with the gold and glowing/dimming ceiling lights. Close enough to talk with adjacent tables if desired. If we cruised again I don't think we would go below sky suite and Luminae is a big reason.

 

I only took a few pictures of menus and food, not a complete set. I was often hungry or excited about eating and then forgot to take pictures until later.

 

Front room.

 

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Back room. We sat along the windows in the back left in this picture.

 

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Sis with menu. They quickly learned that we didn't need wine glasses or services of the sommelier - we only drank water with sliced lime (sis) or lemon (me). I had juice 3 breakfasts.

 

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View from window was of the luggage being loaded onto the ship.

 

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Lunch menu, which was repeated on Thursday. The menu was posted outside and the reverse side had the next meal. You might also want to check out Grand Epernay's menu before dining as you can order anything off that menu as well.

 

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We had gone out for breakfast and I was still full from my waffles with butter and hot real syrup so I just had the bisque. Sis had the bisque, salad, and a half order of the risotto. She loved the soup presentation. The bowl with ingredients, like the lobster, was placed on the table and then the liquid was poured in.

 

Lobster bisque.

 

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Salad.

 

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Risotto, partly eaten.

 

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After lunch we headed upstairs for a view of Seattle. We walked through the Oceanview Cafe which was crowded with passengers and luggage. There were tons of options at the various stations.

 

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About 1:20 rooms were ready for occupancy.

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This vacation was definitely a splurge. You don't hit a combined age of 100 with your twin every day. Celebrity Suite 1233 is on deck 10 port side. There is a sliding glass door between the library and the cabin corridor which completely blocked out the sometimes considerable noise from the live entertainment below. Convenient elevator and stairwell nearby.

 

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I found a fantastic image on cruise critic of the outside balconies including 1110 which is across the ship on the starboard side. 1233/1110 have a large slanted balcony right before the "X".

 

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The suite was amazing. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves for a bit.

 

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Thank you for taking the time to do this great review. DH and I were on this sailing as well, and we really enjoyed seeing College Arm Fjord due to excessive ice in Tracy Arm (we've sailed Tracy Arm many times). So glad you enjoyed your cruise--you really "scored" with the weather in Seattle! :D

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IMG_0374_zpsuszlkprw.jpg

 

Bedroom walk in closet with safe on top of a bureau. There was a small pair of binoculars, a collapsible umbrella, a big umbrella, bath robes, and slippers.

 

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Bedroom TV and storage shelves next to bathroom door. This smaller TV was larger than my flat screen at home.

 

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Living room TV.

 

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Foyer closet.

 

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Edited by twins_to_alaska
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hi MustBCruzn,

 

We really scored with weather everywhere! I heard several times that the week before was very rainy. I had been looking forward to Tracy Arm but as I'd never been I wasn't disappointed with Endicott Arm. That was my favorite excursion.

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I apparently didn't take any pictures from the hallway into the bathroom, which is a shame. There was plenty of storage. Loved the rain showerhead. The tub had a high edge.

 

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There was another wire basket on the right side where I put my bar soap.

 

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Hooks on door to bedroom and door to hallway.

 

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Towel bars inside tub.

 

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Bedroom looking toward walk in closet, mirror, and bathroom.

 

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The last of the suite pictures.

 

Turn down service every night. The next day's daily would be left as well as a piece of chocolate - both on each bed. Curtains in the living room would be closed.

 

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Another picture of the bedroom TV. We only used the TVs to check our account.

 

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The fridge in the living room entertainment center. It kept things somewhat cool.

 

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My apologies for anyone who thought there were too many suite pictures. I appreciated all the ones I could find before we booked.

 

Our Stateroom Attendant was Hector and our Assistant Staterom Attendant was Ramesh. They were courteous and kept our suite sparkling clean. I really enjoyed having someone else make the beds in the morning! We learned to move our razors from the tub to the storage on top of the toilet before morning cleaning... they always were moved to a different place in the bathroom.

 

We were told that towels on the floor would be exchanged. We never placed a towel on the floor. Every morning and evening any used towel on a towel bar or hook was replaced with a new fresh one on the towel bars.

 

We met Hector. Whenever we called he appeared in about 3 seconds. He must have been living in a hidden room right outside our door. It was a bit unsettling.

 

We requested that our mini fridge be emptied as we wanted to keep our water and my sister's iced tea in there. She brought along a large Nalgene bottle and tea bags and cold brewed in the fridge. I kept a birthday chocolate bar in there and the sparkling wine that was waiting for us in the stateroom... I never drank it and my sister gave it away after the cruise... I ate the chocolate bar on the plane ride home.

 

Sis requested and got a memory foam pillow.

 

We removed the decorative shams and sis's extra pillow from our bed and Hector took those away. The brown decorative bed cloths (what are those called?) we stuffed in the shelf closet next to the TV for the duration.

 

Later when we unpacked we found there was a plethora of pants/skirts hangers but not enough regular ones - my sister packed as lightly as I did. :-) Hector took away the clipped ones and brought us shirt ones. We later requested more. They were out of wooden ones but he rounded up 5 wire hangers.

 

The second morning I got the online TV stuck trying to find photographs that didn't exist and Hector came and helped me get back to the main menu.

 

Usually the cleaning was done when we returned from breakfast. If not we went out and about again for a little while.

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Thank you for posting your pictures. Your suite looks amazing.:):):) I sure wish I could sail in a suite just once. But, I am happy that I am able to book balcony cabins. I love me a balcony! Looking forward to more pictures from you.

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View off port in Seattle from balcony. There were seals in the water.

 

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Lifeboat drill wasn't until 4 so we wandered around familiarizing ourselves with the ship's layout.

 

The library on deck 10. I was surprised how many folk utilized the comfy chairs for reading. Books could be borrowed and brought back to your cabin. On deck 11 above there were tables. One group started work on a large jigsaw puzzle whose completion spanned several days.

 

 

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The indoor solarium pool.

 

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Seattle skyline off starboard.

 

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Helipad with parking lot in distance.

 

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Pier 91 transportation area. Will be swarming with cars, buses, shuttles, taxis and Uber upon return in a week.

 

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Solarium. Peaceful and warm. Smelled a bit bleachy.

 

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We went through the spa area which was having an open house. Sis considered tooth whitening special.

 

Persian Gardens. Are those tiled loungers really comfortable?

 

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Fantastic view while lounging.

 

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Exercise room. Looked well equipped. Sadly, with the amount of calories we consumed, we did not spend any time here.

 

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This was more my speed. It was unexpectedly difficult to extricate oneself from. Sort of swallowed you up.

 

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The outdoor pool was still quiet but with the 90+ degree temperature it was later busy.

 

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The pool bar, meanwhile, had attracted guests. I only drank at Michael's Club as no beverage package.

 

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Plenty of loungers in the protected area.

 

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Outdoor lawn area.

 

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A pleasant day to be walking around outdoors.

 

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The numerous detailed maps and signage on each floor were useful to navigate around the ship.

 

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Cellar Masters.

 

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Had time for half an hour relaxation on the balcony before the lifeboat drill. Rainier was cloud free.

 

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Our drill was in Grand Epernay deck 4. They played a video and we met the crew who have been trained in crowd management and who would be assisting us to our lifeboats in case of emergency. Although there is no deck 13 on the ship there is a lifeboat 13 and it was one of our assigned boats. Hmm...

 

5:19pm. Sailaway from Seattle. Deck 14 aft Oceanview Cafe. Couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to depart. The ship really moved. Seattle soon receded into the distance.

 

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Thanks to those who have commented positively.

 

I wanted to plug LoutheGlue's July 2015 awesome photo review, Photo Review Solstice Alaska June 26 to July 3, 2015

 

I really enjoyed looking at those pictures before I cruised.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2230637

 

patty1955 has 11 nights in Luminae

with menus and uneaten food pictures

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2361724&highlight=luminae+menu

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After sail away we returned to the cabin. All 3 bags had eventually singly arrived. The one with toilet paper last. We joked that they had flagged our cabin to keep watch for gastrointestinal issues. Unpacked the hanging clothes. I had left of foyer closet, sis had right. We hung just a few (half dozen) tops in the walk in closet. Sis kept her two bags in the walk in and I kept mine in the hallway. I'm more of a bedbug-phobe so anything not hung up in the hall closet stayed in my standing zipped up suitcases. I'd zip/unzip a dozen or so times every morning. Sis thinks I'm overly paranoid - her suitcases were lying flat and open most of the time.

 

We used the tip to bring stick-it-notes and put them on the mirror at the desk to remind us of events/things to bring for excursions. I also brought 2 magnets which we used on the wall near the living room TV to hang papers. I really wish we had brought a door stop. It was on my list. The bathroom door from the bedroom had a holder on the the bathroom floor in front of the tub (my sis stubbed her toe on it a lot) to keep it open but not the hallway door. We used my TravelPro to keep that door open when desired.

 

The bathroom was tiled throughout floors and walls. Beautiful. The light switches were both outside in the hall and in the bedroom.

 

There were only 2 outlets, each for 1 plug. The first was at the desk and we utilized for the hairdryer/my phone charger/my toothbrush. The second Hector said he'd just found out about recently from a guest. Behind the couch on the foyer side. The couch was heavy and it took him some effort to pull it a few inches away from the wall. Sis plugged her phone charger there and kept it plugged in the whole cruise as it was a little cumbersome to reach behind the couch. We'd perch a device on the back of the couch to charge.

 

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Hector had cleaned out the fridge earlier when we first met. He came back with a large blue canvas bag which he filled and took away. That little fridge had alcohol packed in tightly.

 

Luminae 7p dinner. No window seats so we settled in at the table next to our lunch one. But before we had been served the window table opened up and we asked and were moved.

 

Calm waters.

 

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Decorative butter. Love the little special touches.

 

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Amuse-bouche. Ham/cheese croquette.

 

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Roasted tomato soup for sis.

 

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I had the crispy pork belly. It was super crispy. I couldn't cut it with my regular knife. O'Neil noticed and brought me a sharper one. Even then it took care and some effort to pierce the skin and break it into pieces. Delicious.

 

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Sis had the turbot. Excellent. All the fish we had at Luminae were cooked perfectly. Never dry. She had a fish knife (we had to ask) among her silverware. Didn't need it.

 

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I had the filet. It was a little browner than medium rare but very tender. It was apparently zucchini and yellow squash season and they were prevalent as sides along with carrots. I don't find carrots objectionable but zucchini/squash I don't appreciate. One could, and I did, ask for side substitutions.

 

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Palate cleanser. Green apple sorbet with horseradish. Different. Would have preferred sans horseradish.

 

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The wait staff surprised us with a cake bearing two lit candles. Luminae had no open flame candles on their tables, just electric tea lights. 10 of them sang happy birthday to us... 'dear sisters'. It's been a long time since I've had a group sing me happy birthday. The cake was dark, chocoately, fudgy. My favorite kind. O'Neil asked if we wanted the rest brought to our room. We declined but asked if we could have two pieces saved for breakfast (don't judge!). He said the staff would eat the rest.

 

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Yum!!

 

Loving your review, just love how different folks have different observations....really enjoying yours and the photos which are really informative. Leaving for Seattle in 3 days...yippee. We are in the aft also. Love your views of that.

 

Can't wait to read more.....:D

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