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CHICAGOPAUL LIVE!!!! Our First ALASKA CRUISE on the ECLIPSE!!! May 19th Sailing

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Cheers Cruise Critic! It is thankfully that time again for another Live cruise blog! Edward and I are leaving Chicago for Vancouver to join the Celebrity Eclipse on Sunday the 19th for our first Alaskan Cruise! Not only have we never been to Alaska before but we have not been to Vancouver either, so this will be a cruise with many firsts for us and we are very much looking forward to it. If you don’t feel like reading this first post (I know it might be a bit boring with lots of details) feel free to skip to the bottom of this post to see my youtube video with a quick introduction to our trip.

 

For those of you who have not followed us before I will give you a quick rundown of ourselves. I am Paul and my partner is Edward. We live in Chicago (yes in the actual city, right downtown) and are 32 and 36. We try to cruise at least a few times a year and typically on longer itineraries when our schedule allows. This will mark our 18th cruise on Celebrity.

 

As always I will take you along with us on our journey and let you know what is going on every step of the way. You can follow me on social media, specifically on Instagram - PaulKBlackburn  You can also follow the hashtag #CruisingOnCelebrity  I’ll be posting photos on Instagram but also a lot of short videos on my instagram stories since that seems to upload very easily even if the internet is not 100%.

 

As always I will post at least 10 photos per day on here including the “Dailys” for you to review. I also will let you know any and all costs incurred, whether we are talking about flights, taxis, meals out, ubers, etc. I know many times the talk of money can be “taboo” but at the end of the day none of these wonderful things are free so I think it is important to mention the costs to help everyone plan better.

 

I also encourage you all to ask questions about any topics cruise or travel related. Whether you want to know my thoughts on the food or who is working on the ship or how busy the ports are…just ask and I’ll do my best to answer them. The more interactive I am with all of you the more I enjoy writing so do not feel bad about asking questions.

 

I also want to take a moment to thank all of you who commented on a posting of mine over a month ago asking for suggestions for this trip. We read through all of your comments, tips and tricks and it helped greatly in determining what we are doing and what to pack! Our highlight excursion this trip will be the helicopter tour which stops on two glaciers and the glacier walk. Hoping for good weather!

 

Below are all the pricing details of our cruise, including everything from travel insurance to the cruise itself. It may be a bit boring so don’t feel like you need to read it!

 

Let’s take a look at the cruise itinerary

 

Celebrity Eclipse May 19th - 7 Nights

 

Day 1 - Vancouver

Day 2 - Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

Day 3 - Icy Strait Point

Day 4 - Cruising Hubbard Glacier

Day 5 - Juneau

Day 6 - Ketchikan

Day 7 - Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

Day 8 - Vancouver

 

We are arriving in Vancouver on the evening of Friday May 17th. After the cruise we are also spending one day and night in Vancouver and flying back to Chicago on memorial day morning.

 

Cruise Pricing

 

OK, let’s talk about money! We booked this cruise a couple months ago. It was a last minute thought. When we were on the Edge in February we booked an August Equinox cruise as a place holder to have an on board booking that we could transfer to another cruise. We used that onboard booking for this cruise so we were able to get a little extra OBC.

 

Celebrity Suite: Originally we booked a Celebrity Suite for this cruise, including the Go BEST package, which came to $2,689.33 per person or $5,378.66 in total.

Move Up Bid: Not too long after booking we received the opportunity for a move up bid. The options were to bid on the Royal Suite and the Penthouse Suite. We originally bid only on the Penthouse. The minimum bid was $800 per person so we bid $850pp. We ended up canceling out that bid and only bidding on the Royal. The minimum bid for the Royal was $400pp, we ended up bidding $405pp.

 

Total Cruise Pricing

 

We won our move up bid and therefore incurred the extra cost of $810 bringing our new total to $6,188.66 for the Royal Suite.

 

In addition we have $975 onboard credit (combination of credit from booking on board, go best, and our TA).

 

Airfare

 

We are flying non-stop from Chicago (ORD) to Vancouver (YVR) on Air Canada. We booked through Choice Air. The pricing through Choice Air was a little cheaper than going direct through Air Canada or other online travel websites and we get the additional comfort of their protection. The timing on these flights was perfect for us. 5:05pm leaving ORD and we’re leaving YVR at 10:15am on Memorial Day.

 

We are on a CRJ900 which is a regional jet. I’m surprised it has the range to make that long of a flight. Here is hoping for light headwinds!

 

Total Airfare Cost: $867.74 Round Trip for 2. I’ll update this later after we incur baggage costs.

 

Hotels

 

On Friday and Saturday (May 17th and 18th) before the cruise we are staying at the Shangri-La which looks to be in a great location. We used around 45,000 chase points for this. At the time it was a decent redemption on points but since then it looks like pricing has dropped a bit so the redemption wasn’t the greatest for us at the end of the day.

 

On the Sunday night after the cruise we are staying at the Grand Hyatt and only used 12,000 Hyatt points, transferred from Chase. This was a phenomenal redemption. Since we’re using hotel points (as opposed to booking through the Chase portal) we’re not incurring any taxes either. We would have loved to have booked this hotel at this rate for our first two nights but it wasn’t available for booking. In addition we have Explorist status with Hyatt due to our MLife (MGM Hotel & Casino rewards program) Platinum status we have which is only because of our Elite Plus status with Celebrity since Captain’s Club has a reciprocity status with MLife.

 

Credit Card used for booking

 

I’m not going to turn this into a points blog but I cannot stress enough how important it is to use a quality card for booking travel. Not only can you earn points but the basic travel protection on some cards is phenomenal.

 

We booked everything (that we had to pay for in cash) with our Chase Sapphire Reserve. This does a couple things.

 

  1. Travel Insurance - Automatic travel protection built in which would cover us in the event we had a major issue and had to cancel the cruise last minute (keep in mind this does not necessarily apply to pre-existing conditions) or if we have any major delays, lost luggage, etc.
  2. Points! 3x points on travel. In total we spent $7,056, so this equated to 21,169 chase ultimate rewards points.

 

Tavel Insurance

 

We do not purchase regular travel insurance since we have the protection through the card (protection is up to $10,000 in value and you must use the card to pay for your trip!) but we still purchase a separate medical plan. While we would get medical coverage through the Chase Reserve card, it is not that great of coverage.

 

We purchased the GeoBlue Voyager Choice plan through InsureMyTrip. The total cost for two was $35.86. This covers $100,000 in medical per person, $50,000 in accidental death, and $500,000 in medical evacuation. Please note this is only for medical, no trip cancellation, etc. It also requires that you have primary insurance as well.

 

OK, look at that, we made it through all those details!

 

As I go through each day, whether it is our hotel before the cruise, embarkation, nightly dinners, etc. I will do my best to be as critical as possible I am very much a glass half full type of person, especially when I’m traveling. With this being said, sometimes I think I should be a little more critical when reviewing certain aspects. At the same time I find myself so lucky to be able to live the life that I do, that it is sometimes difficult to be negative when the situation calls for it. So at the end of the day I will do my best to be impartial, objective, informative, but most importantly entertaining.

 

Thank you again for following along and coming with us on another amazing trip!

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I'm looking forward to following this one, since we have this cruise planned for June 2020. I have never done the very popular Alaska cruise either, but it's been on my list for a while. Thought I'd better do before the glaciers have disappeared!  

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Looking forward to following along.   Have a nice cruise.

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I can't wait to see your updates.  We are taking this same cruise later this summer. We have never cruised with Celebrity, and we have never been to Alaska.  Thanks for sharing!

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I'm sure you and Edward will have a wonderful cruise and stay in Vancouver.  We did the same itinerary a number of years ago and are thinking of going back.  Enjoy!

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I have been waiting for you to start your review!  Have a fabulous time!

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Following your review, doing the B2B2B YVR-HNL-YVR-LAX on board the Eclipse next September/October

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Looking forward to following along.  Have a great time and enjoy Alaska.  Fingers crossed for good weather for your helicopter tour.  Enjoy!

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Looking forward to another Paul & Edward's Excellent Adventure.

Susan

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Have a wonderful cruise! I love following along as you have such a wonderful philosophy on life. You must be close to making Zenith soon? 

Wendy

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That's a pretty nice deal on booking the Royal Suite.  Looking forward to your blog.  Wishing you and Edward, Happy Sailing!

Patty

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Thank you everyone for the nice comments! Well we are sitting in traffic on the way to the airport. 

 

I was was hoping to use Tapatalk and updated the app and now it doesn’t work properly with Cruise Critic. Anyone else have this issue? 

 

Anyway, hopefully we will be at the airport soon. Traffic is pretty heavy right now. Typical Friday in Chicago and the weather (cloudy and rainy) isn’t helping much. 

 

Uber Black to the airport was $94 today. Looks like it will be a little over an hour commute in total. 

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Have a wonderful trip.  THANK YOU for taking us along!  You are going to love Vancouver AND Alaska.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, chicagopaul said:

 

I was was hoping to use Tapatalk and updated the app and now it doesn’t work properly with Cruise Critic. Anyone else have this issue? 

 

 

Same experience here.   After last update it is really buggy.   Won't accept login but  when hit the three bars upper right corner it shows logged in but will not allow me to respond to a thread.

 

I've been using the optimized web version using built in browser on iPhone and it works perfectly.   The only quirk is that when uploading pictures you have to make sure the browser doesn't go in sleep mode by moving screen with finger.   If your browser goes to sleep mode you will get a -200 error (upload failed).  I've uploaded as any as 12 pictures without failure and works well on the ship (but VERY SLOW).  

Edited by Jim_Iain

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28 minutes ago, Jim_Iain said:

 

Same experience here.   After last update it is really buggy.   Won't accept login but  when hit the three bars upper right corner it shows logged in but will not allow me to respond to a thread.

 

I've been using the optimized web version using built in browser on iPhone and it works perfectly.   The only quirk is that when uploading pictures you have to make sure the browser doesn't go in sleep mode by moving screen with finger.   If your browser goes to sleep mode you will get a -200 error (upload failed).  I've uploaded as any as 12 pictures without failure and works well on the ship (but VERY SLOW).  

 

Yep exact issue here. The web version does seem to be working much better than before. Thanks for the tip regarding sleep mode! 

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First drink at the airport. We’re at Bubbles in Terminal 3, though our flight is from T2. No priority pass lounges at O’Hare except for in T5 so we have to pay for our drinks. How dare they! 

 

Baggage drop with Air Canada was a breeze and pre check for T2 barely had anyone in it. The drive was a little over an hour to the airport but we left early. Now we have just over an hour to kill before boarding. Skies are starting to look a little odd around here so hopefully the weather holds up. 

59E2BAF9-B2F2-4034-99E1-3AE81AC7A2F0.jpeg

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We did the same itinerary exactly 3 years ago. It was our first cruise and we loved it. Wonderful landscape, nature, glaciers….

So I hope you are going to enjoy it, too.

 

Safe travels. 🙂

 

Christine

 

PS. We were on Infinity when it hit the pier in Ketchikan. There is a video of it on YouTube...😉🚢

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Yay!  Love your reviews and stories.  Enjoy !  

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We’ll be on the Eclipse for an almost identical cruise Aug 4 (with our daughter and grandsons) and we did your cruise exactly one year ago on the Millennium. This will be our fourth Alaska cruise. You will love it and I look forward to your daily updates. 

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5 hours ago, chicagopaul said:

Pre departure beverage from home a little while ago. 

AA7601C8-812F-4F29-A3A0-57F276E0E9E5.jpeg

I just saw this picture on Instagram and saw cruise critic on your computer so had to run over here! 😂😂.....Have a fabulous time! Not going to Alaska until 2020, but curious as to what you think. Looking forward to your blog as always. Safe travels!

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Hmm...I live in Vancouver (suburb) and I'm taking the same cruise immediately after you.  Gonna watch carefully.

 

Would it be creepy if I drove to the airport and offered you guys a ride to your hotel?

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