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Old May 26th, 2003, 02:26 PM
LisaG
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Default Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

I've just returned from our first cruise ever and our first visit to Alaska. We flew to Seattle, spent a day and a half there, then took the Amtrak bus to Vancouver, spent a day and a half there, and then sailed on the Inside Passage cruise out of Vancouver (18 May -25 May) on Celebrity Mercury. We docked back in Vancouver at 7:00am on Sunday the 25th, and we took the bus back (Celebrity transfers) to Seattle and took a 2:05pm flight back to the east coast.

Our cruise stopped at Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka and we cruised Hubbard Glacier.
In Ketchikan we went on the Misty Fjords sight seeing tour (with Island Wings - booked on our own) and in Juneau we went on a Glacier landing (with Coastal - booked on our own). If anyone has any questions about anything (especially any first-timers since this was our first cruise) I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Thanks to everyone for all the advice and help they provided prior to our trip.

LisaG
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Old May 26th, 2003, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Hi Lisa,
Welcome back and just wondering how you liked cruising in general? Would you go again?

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Old May 26th, 2003, 04:36 PM
iris
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

i do i do
this is our first cruise also and first time to alaska
you took almost the exact trip we are planning
we are also from the east coast new york to be exact
we are tooooo chicken to take any of the excrusisons you took
we are planning capt larry in junea
kayaking in Ketchikan
and possibly biking/hiking in sitka
how where the shore trips people booked thru celebrity?
what sights are must see in seattle, vancouver
what did you do in sitka
how did you like the trip overall
thanks soooo much for any input
iris
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Old May 26th, 2003, 07:20 PM
John Q
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Lisa, how did you like your cruise, Island Wings and Pero? We were in the same ports last year and also took Michelles flight to Misty Fjords, a highlight of our trip.

Iris, don't be a fraidy cat, the Misty Fjords and other float plane trips are not thrill rides, it is how people have to get around in Alaska. A floatplane trip could be the highlight of your whole trip.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 07:53 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Donna,

In general we enjoyed our cruise very much. We were lucky and had great weather until the last 2 days. Those last two days were also the days we were hitting Sitka and then returning to the Inside Passage so we were in unprotected waters. The first 4 and a half days of our cruise were extremely smooth and the last two were quite rough...especially the night after we left Sitka. Lots of people were sea sick. I don't know if it was the weather, or the unprotected waters, or the combination, but based on that we aren't sure that we would want to do a Caribbean cruise since we'd be in unprotected waters the entire time.

The Alaskan scenery was beautiful, the shows were very good, and the food was great. Our only complaint was that we were seated at a table of 4 at dinner. We had requested a table for 2 (1st choice) and a table of 8 or 10 as a second choice. We were seated with a couple whom we had nothing in common with. They were very nice but it was tough making conversation for the entire cruise.

So overall it was a wonderful experience. IF we could afford it, we would do another Alaskan cruise...attempting to hit different ports, and we might do a cruise of somewhere that we could expect to be fairly calm.

LisaG
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Old May 26th, 2003, 08:09 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

The Misty Fjords flight was the highlight of our trip. We had a spectacular sunny day with no clouds at all. It was beautiful and we able to land and get out on a lake for about 30 minutes...very relaxing and amazing scenery.

The glacier landing was also wonderful although it was slightly raining and a little overcast. It was still worthwhile.

Sitka was a little disappointing..HOWEVER..that was for several reasons. First, the weather turned bad after leaving Juneau (up until then it was beautiful and sunny...Juneau it started raining in the morning, but then stopped and was just cloudy but still fine for walking around and the view from the top of the tram was still excellent!). Due to the weather we got into Sitka late and then we had to tender in. We were on the first tender and didn't get into the town until almost 10:00am. I booked the shore excursions on my own in Ketchikan and in Juneau and am so glad I didn't for Sitka because we would have missed it. In Sitka it was raining and windy and cold. We were scheduled to leave at 3:45pm so the last tender was at 3:00pm. The line was very long so we got in line by 2:00pm to go back to the ship. Because of all of that, we only had about 4 hours in Sitka. So if you are doing an excursion in Sitka, I would recommend booking through the ship. We did not do any excursions through the ship so I can't comment on how they were.

Once we were in Sitka, we basically did the walking tour and had time to see everything. The Raptor Rehabilitation center was nice and the Sitka National Historical Park was nice and relaxing. The St Micheals church was worth visiting, and we enjoyed the Shelden JAckson museum and the Russian Bishops House.

So although Sitka was our least favorite stop, if the weather was nicer (and if we'd had more time) I'm sure we would have enjoyed it more.

We loved Seattle...it was our first visit there. Of course we went to the Space Needle and to Pike Place market. We had great weather (although a little chilly). My husband was in heaven since he loves coffee. Our favorite thing about SEattle was doing the Underground tour. I had never heard of it...we found out about it in one of the books I had. It was a 90 minute tour that took you into the underground area of SEattle and told the history. It was so interesting and our guide was the best tour guide we've ever had anywhere! Her name was TerriLynn.

Vancouver was OK. We had good weather but we were a little disappointed in the lack of historical feel to Gastown and Granville Island. We enjoyed Stanley PArk and if we'd had time we would have liked to have gone to the suspension bridge. We mistakenly thought we could get there by walking over to Stanley park, but it is actually several miles past Stanley Park over the main bridge. We went to the Aquarium in Stanley Park and enjoyed that.

Overall the trip was amazing. We loved Juneau and Hubbard Glacier was wonderful. As I said, the Misty Fjords flight was the highlight of the trip.

Hope this helps,

LisaG
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Old May 26th, 2003, 08:56 PM
iris
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

thanks for input maybe i can get my husband to do the flights
i have a hard enough time getting him to fly and guess what he does for a living......
a psychologist ()
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Old May 27th, 2003, 05:37 AM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

attempting to hit different ports, and we might do a cruise of somewhere that we could expect to be fairly calm.



This is what "sailing" is all about. There are NO guarantees of smooth sailing anywhere and certainally not in Alaska despite the MYTH. 1/3 of my Alaska cruise trips (3) have encountered very rough sailing and all of those happened to be round trip. There are excellent precautions available, so do consider them. On a cruise, I want movement, if not, I'll stay on land.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

We have only been on one cruise - Norwegian Wind to South China Sea. Now we are planning to go to Alaska in the late summer and are looking for a ship. Please comment about the ship itself - stateroom, food ,etc. We were disappointed with the food and service on the Wind, although the stateroom was fine. (Of course, we went 10/13, a month after 9/11 so excuses were made that they had so many cancellations they laid off staff, but still it was NOT top drawer by any means.) We are 60 somethings - are these trips for those who want to look and not GET OUT THERE? (The float plane sounded intriguing.)
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Old May 27th, 2003, 02:08 PM
KreinKrunker
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Lisa G,

Do you remember what time the muster drill was? Trying to put a get-together together, and need to know if there is enough time after muster, and before first seating.

Also, if you are ever in the same situation in the dining room again, just see the maitred' about getting your table changed. It can be done in most cases, and we've found in those cases where it can't, just introduce him to Andrew Jackson, and viola!
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Old May 27th, 2003, 02:14 PM
John Q
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

I think you should look into Holland America. They have good food and great service and their cabins are as large as anyones if not bigger. And many of them still look like ships rather than floating hotels. Lots of wood and open decks.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

ezinvt........I know you would like holland america, good food, big cabins and all round classy ,especially the Zaandam. just got back from Alaska and can not find fault with anything to do with this ship. Unusual for me ,as with past cruise lines...I found crew or food not up to my expectations.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 03:46 PM
ezinvt
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Default Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercu

Liz, I am curious that you recommended the Zaandam rather than the Mercury. May I ask why? I checked the poll and Mercury comes out way higher in all areas.

Sort of off-topic, but I am a low-carbohydrate (Atkins) diner. Does anyone foresee this as a problem on board?
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Old May 27th, 2003, 05:31 PM
Liz Liz is offline
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity M

ezinvt....sorry..I can't say anything about Mercury as I have never sailed with them.It was one of my choices and TA felt I would like Zaandam better for my likes of good service and good food. I am also in early 60's.. as I think you said you were,if this means anything Actually there were a nice mixture of all ages on our trip. I know that having sailed only Princess and RCCL before and now HAL......I will allows now go with Hal as they meet all the things that are important to me........#1 being good service and making me feel that my enjoyment of my holiday is of importance to them.
As far as diet goes.....they do handle special diet needs, you would be best to ask them or get your TA to ask.
If I can help with any other questions regarding Zaandam, if I know answer will be happy to answer.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 04:22 PM
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

I expected movement and we had brought myclezine and also the wrist bands I had worn when I had gone whale watching while I was pregnant a couple years ago. Most of the time I didn't need either.

However, I'd say that 15-20% of the people on the ship were sick the night we left Sitka. It was quite rough (forget the heels for formal night...I carried my shoes around all night), and even taking the medicine and wearing the bands I still felt a little queazy. Our room was at the very front of the ship and it was really loud..the front kept lifting up and slamming back down with a bang. We stayed out of our room and to the back of the ship most of the night and that was better. We had no trouble eating dinner, but lots of tables were empty that night. That night was also the gala midnight buffett and all of the crew said that the crowd for that was really light.

Most of the time it was fairly calm with a little rockiness every now and then...that was what I expected.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 04:26 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebri

I enjoyed the Mercury...but I can't make comparisons since this was my first cruise. I had originally planned to go with Holland America and my Travel Agent suggested Celebrity. Based on some friends who had traveled to Alaska before, I knew I wanted to see Hubbard Glacier. So basically I looked at all of the Inside Passage cruises that went to Hubbard Glacier (not alot...especially in May) and I picked the one that had the longest stays in the ports. We were in Juneau from 8:00am until 9:00pm and that allowed us to do a variety of excursions. I know one ship didn't arrive at Juneau until 1:00pm or something which I would not have wanted. So the length of time in the ports is how I made my decision.

Mercury was very nice, the crew was very pleasant and helpful, the food was great, the ship was clean, and the shows were excellent. We had an oceanview cabin at the front of the ship (no balcony) and it had plenty of storage for clothes (more than we needed) and the room had enough room for us. It wasn't huge, but we weren't in the room alot. The bathroom wasn't huge but I didn't feel crowded.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 04:28 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

We were scheduled to leave at 5:45pm. The time listed for boarding started at 1:00pm. We had the early dinner...which was listed as 6:15pm, but actually the doors opened at 6:00pm every night. The muster drill was at 5:15pm. They were done prior to dinner since it only took about a half hour total. I'm not sure that everyone was really on board by then...but most people were.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Thank you. Will probably have to pick another time for our get-together.
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Old June 1st, 2003, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Cel

Lisa ,
what sort of "Specials" did they have on the noat. I read on one of these boards that one day they let the kids play the video games for free. Were there other specials like that on your trip? Did you dave the daily's? I am curious what type of activities are offered each day.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 07:42 PM
LisaG
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Default Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

I don't know what the kids activities were since they had their own schedule. I think that they had kid/youth activities planned from 8:00-12:00 and then from 2:00-5:00 (or something like that). I remember seeing a kids schedule one day when I was at the desk getting a video. For that particular day, they even had a 'sleepover' planned.

For adults there were lots of activities. They had shows every night, movies, bridge games, kareoke, dancing at other lounges, different informational talks on Alaska, wine tasting and lots of other things. I kept the informational part of the dailys for my scrapbook but did not keep the schedules. They also had activities like 80s music trivea one day, a trivea for sound bites from movies (my husband and I won that one!), and others.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Lisa:

I am booked on the same cruise and will sail on July 20th. (This will be our 4th cruise, 2nd with Celebrity, and first to Alaska. The other three were Caribbean itineraries.)

I am also booked with Michelle in Ketchikan for the Misty Fiords Flightseeing tour. She is supposed to be a wonderful guide. For that tour we are scheduled for the 8am flight.
Fro start to finish how mush time was involved. I know the tour itself is 2 hours but how much time from meeting for pick up and return to ship? I am asking so I can have an idea of how much free time we will have after the flight. We are in Ketchikan from 7am -4pm. By the way, how do you dress for a flight tour? And do photos come out good vfrom the plane (use a flash or no flash?).

Also, what would you recommend after the flight? Another tour?

I also read that Ketchikan is very good for shopping-souvenirs. What was your impression?

In Juneau, I have scheduled a Capt. Larry Whale Watching Tour with Orca. This tour was highly recommended by cruisecritic.com writers. And then I will be doing the heli/glacier tour with Coastal. From all accounts this is a highly recommended combination for Juneau.

As for SITKA, Celberity cruise offers a tour through the ship for biking and hiking combo. Not a strenuous tour. My research on cruisecritic.com agrees with your asseessment of Sitka-disappointing. Do you advise a tour or just get off and walk. (By the way ....if ships are delayed and you miss a private tour or port all together and it can't be rescheduled, private tour operators are very clear that they will refund your money without a problem.)

Any comments regarding clothing for day? Clothing for night to walk outside on decks (not referring to dinner clothing)?

Finally, does the ship stores sell gloves, hats, rain jackets, earmuffs, etc...You get the idea. If I do not have the right clothing here (I live in Bermuda), can I get it on the ship?

Lisa, thanks for all your feedback in advance and I am so pleased you enjoyed your cruise.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 12:05 PM
Neil Guerin
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Hi Lisa,

Could you tell us how much your independent tours were, & how did you book them? Were you satisfied with them ? Also how long was the Amtrack bus to Vancouver? We have 2 days in Seattle at the Queen Anne Inn, in downtown Seattle. We are sailing for a week om The Star Princess in a mini suite on 8/23/03 for a week. We were surprised at the air fare on Continental from Newark, almost $700.00 r/t. We would appreciate any tips you could give us on Alaska, weathe, what you enjoyed etc. How was sailing on the millenium? Celebrity & what did you pay. We apid $1428.00 pp, but with airfare, hotel, sightseeing, tours etc, it will cost well over $4000.00 for 9 days.
Thanks, Neil
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Old June 8th, 2003, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Fro start to finish how mush time was involved. I know the tour itself is 2 hours but how much time from meeting for pick up and return to ship? I am asking so I can have an idea of how much free time we will have after the flight. We are in Ketchikan from 7am -4pm. By the way, how do you dress for a flight tour? And do photos come out good vfrom the plane (use a flash or no flash?).

allow an extra hour, the "airport" is walking distance from the ship docks. You wouldn't use flash through your plane windows, I use manual cameras, but photos do come out though plane windows. Dress in layers and take a jacket.






Also, what would you recommend after the flight? Another tour?

I also read that Ketchikan is very good for shopping-souvenirs. What was your impression?

If you want another tour, definately do one, shopping is very good in Ketchikan but also in all the ports there is adquate shopping to be had.



.

As for SITKA, Celberity cruise offers a tour through the ship for biking and hiking combo. Not a strenuous tour. My research on cruisecritic.com agrees with your asseessment of Sitka-disappointing. Do you advise a tour or just get off and walk. (By the way ....if ships are delayed and you miss a private tour or port all together and it can't be rescheduled, private tour operators are very clear that they will refund your money without a problem.)


I have to strongly disagree- I am a frequent Cruisecritic contributed and Sitka is not reported as disappointing. There is plenty to see and do, one unique thing about Alaska all ports are worthwhile and vastly different, not like the Caribbean with a wide range of good to bad ports. Sitka is ALWAYS a tender port. It is great for a walking tour and easy to explore on your own. Request the visit guide www.sitka.org






Any comments regarding clothing for day? Clothing for night to walk outside on decks (not referring to dinner clothing)?

Finally, does the ship stores sell gloves, hats, rain jackets, earmuffs, etc...You get the idea. If I do not have the right clothing here (I live in Bermuda), can I get it on the ship?


You need layers, and definately a lightweight jacket, you won't find much outside deck walking at night, just too cold- so you will need more layers, scarf, knit hat gloves etc. Depending on your first port- there are plenty of shopping options for hats/gloves in port, some selection on the ship but may be more costly. If Ketchikan is your first port, they have Walmart.








Could you tell us how much your independent tours were, & how did you book them? Were you satisfied with them ? Also how long was the Amtrack bus to Vancouver? We have 2 days in Seattle at the Queen Anne Inn, in downtown Seattle. We are sailing for a week om The Star Princess in a mini suite on 8/23/03 for a week. We were surprised at the air fare on Continental from Newark, almost $700.00 r/t. We would appreciate any tips you could give us on Alaska, weathe, what you enjoyed etc. How was sailing on the millenium? Celebrity & what did you pay. We apid $1428.00 pp, but with airfare, hotel, sightseeing, tours etc, it will cost well over $4000.00 for 9 days.


It is easier to determine independent tour operators after you make your touring choice. Look over a shore excursion list and determine your tours you are interested in. then go to the port's visitor guide site (also order each guide) and look up the venders. As for your flights- hopefully you are referring to $700 for 2? This is the "going rate". But also look into Jet Blue if Kennedy is an option. Amtrak bus will be 4+ hours. The once a day train is supposed to be a very scenic trip. I would consider that over the bus. There is also Quick Shuttle that picks up downtown, again allow 4 hours.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 05:08 AM
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Default Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Thanks Lisa. Appreciate the time you are putting into repsonding to questions.

I have one more question regarding sea days. Other than viewing the beautiful scenery what is offered on an Alaskan cruise when...other than casino, library, spa/swimming? Are there art (animation) auctions, etc?

By the way, our first port is Ketchikan but we start with an 8am tour with Michelle on Island Wings Air Service ...return 10am then followed at 11am with Southeast Sea Kayaks....return at 3pm. Don't know if we will make the Walmart.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 11:33 AM
linda g
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on

Fellow Cruisers,
I am still looking for anyone booked on Celebrity's Infinity, bound for Alaska on September 12th. If you are booked on this cruise, I would love to hear from you! My email address is yenta_linda@hotmail.com.
Several days ago, we received an onboard credit from Celebrity because we had paid to join their Captain's Club and now it is free. We will use the credit to have dinner, the first night we are on the cruise, in the S.S. United States restaurant. I would welcome any comments concerning this restaurant.
Bon Voyage and Godspeed.
Sincerely,
Linda G.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 03:48 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

For the Island Wings tour, they picked us up at the dock at 7:45 for our 8am flight.
They are very close by. We were in the plane and on our way at 8am. We returned almost exactly at 10:00 and the next group was ready to board. I think they
refueled and took off right away. They had our group back to the where the ship
was docked by about 10:20am.

We didn't do another scheduled tour in Ketchikan. We caught the lumberjack show and then did a walking tour on our own and did a little shopping.

As for shopping, I thought that Juneau had the most choices for 'non-touristy' items. Ketchikan had many nice things, but I looked Juneau the best for shoping.

In Sitka...we knew we had to tender in and that we would have to tender back...giving us less time in port. We had considered the wildlife tour but decided to just do the walking tour. That was fine and we were able to do that dispite the weather so I think it was our best choice.

I don't recall for sure if the ship's shops had gloves, hats, etc...

We had good weather and a variety of tours. I just dressed in a couple layers and took a backpack with an extra jacket. We were fine at all the ports...even our glacier tour.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 04:03 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

In Ketchikan, the Misty Fjords flightseeing was $189 per person. In Juneau, the Coastal Glacier landing was $173 per person. I just searched online to find what we thought was the best deal for what we wanted.

We took the bus from Seattle to Vancouver instead of the train since the train only runs at 7:45 am and we didn't want to get up that early. We took the 10:45 am bus. We left about 15 minutes late because some passengers we late. We got to Vancouver and were off the bus and had our luggage by about 2:30pm. The Amtrak bus makes a stop at the duty free shop before crossing the border into Canada, and since the bus is full or a mixed group of people, customs made us all get out and we had to account for all the luggage. That made it take as long as it did.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 04:05 PM
LisaG
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercury

Yes...there were art auctions on a couple of days and the art was displayed throughout the cruise.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Just back from Inside Passage on Celebrity Mercu

Thanks again Lisa. Now it's up to the weather gods and a positive attitude to enjoy our cruise. Looking forward to an incredible experience.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 11:36 PM
Barbtux
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Default Re: US Restaurant on Infinity

Hi Linda - while I have not dined there myself, there are many rave reviews of the restaurant on the cruisecritic.com boards. People have unanimously loved the goat cheese souffle and a chocolate dessert of some kind. Anyway, if you like to linger over long (3 hours?) dinners, you will love this experience, from what I have heard.
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