Calling All MLA 2017 Attendees!

Solstice in Tracy Arm - Alaska Celebrity Solstice - Celebrity Cruises

BREAKING NEWS!!  Celebrity is currently offering its Go Big promotion to the MLA Group sailing.  Any booking in an Ocean View or higher category stateroom will receive one free perk of your choice.  The available perks are:
  • a Classic Beverage Package for two,
  • an Unlimited Internet Package for two,
  • Prepaid grauities for two, or
  • a $300 onboard ship credit per stateroom

In addition, guests booked in the MLA group will receive a Specialty Dining Package (valued at $99) and admittance to a sommelier-hosted wine tasting.

A $500 deposit is required at time of booking to hold your stateroom.  There is only one discounted stateroom left in the MLA group, so now is the time to book!

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Imagine walking into the lobby of a five-star hotel with sumptuous furnishings, fine dining and stylish bars. Now transport this hotel onto Alaska’s Inside Passage and you have the June 2nd, 2017 sailing of the Celebrity Solstice. For seven days and nights you will enjoy the luxury of one of the top cruise lines in the world.  For eight consecutive years, Celebrity Cruises has been ranked the Best Premium Cruise Line by the readers of Travel Weekly and in a 2014 poll of Conde Nast Traveler’s readers, the Solstice was ranked among the Top 20 Large Cruise Ships.  You now have an opportunity to sail this incredible ship on one of the most scenic cruise itineraries in the world.  The Medical Library Association (working with Celebrity Cruises and Steve Shadle/Sandy Saburn of CruisingCo.Com) has made arrangements for MLA ’17 attendees to take a post-conference Alaskan cruise. For further information or to book your cruise, contact Steve Shadle (steves@cruisingco.com)

CONTENTS OF THIS POST

– Dates and Deadlines
– Itinerary and Ports of Call
– Celebrity Solstice Facts
– Staterooms / Fares / Cost
– Food and Dining
– SeaPass and Gratuities
– Bars, Lounges and Beverage Packages
– The Grand Foyer
– Lawn Club (And Hot Glass Show)
– Pool Deck & Solarium
– Entertainment and Relaxation
– The AquaSpa and Fitness Center
– Shopping
– For Kids and Teens
– Internet
– Art & Photo Gallery
– Clothing
– Celebrity Today Onboard Newsletter
 
               Celebrity Solstice in Seattle harbor.  Image courtesy of CruiseBuzz.Net

 

DATES AND DEADLINES

 

Overview

 

  • This sailing of Celebrity Solstice departs from and returns to Pier 91 (Smith Cove Terminal).  Pier 91 is located two miles northwest of downtown Seattle
  • The cruise departs Friday, June 2nd at 5 PM and returns Friday, June 9th at 6 AM
  • For this sailing, U.S. citizens are not required to travel with a passport.  U.S. Citizens who do not have a valid passport must provide the following proof of citizenship: Naturalization certificate or an original certified birth certificate from the state/province of their birth (a hospital certificate will not suffice) together with a current, valid government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license. U.S. citizens may also present a U.S. Passport Card. However, it is highly recommended that you carry a valid passport.  Even if your cruise does not involve air travel outside the U.S., should you be required to unexpectedly depart a vessel in a foreign port prior to the end of the sailing, a passport would be required to re-enter the U.S. by air.

Important Dates

  • A $500 refundable deposit is due at time of booking
  • By February 20th, 2017 – Final balance must be paid in full
ITINERARY AND PORTS OF CALL

Celebrity Solstice Itinerary

Day 1 (Friday, June 2) – Seattle, Washington
Day 2 (Saturday, June 3) – At Sea
Day 3 (Sunday, June 4) – Ketchikan, Alaska
Day 4 (Monday, June 5) – Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska / Juneau, Alaska
Day 5 (Tuesday, June 6) – Skagway, Alaska / Inside Passage, Alaska
Day 6 (Wednesday, June 7) – At Sea
Day 7 (Thursday, June 8) – Victoria, British Columbia
Day 8 (Friday, June 9) – Seattle
Ketchikan, Alaska – You’ve never tasted salmon so fresh. Known as the ‘Salmon Capital of the World’, Ketchikan is also the ancestral home of the Tlingit people, who have carved the world’s largest collection of totem poles. If you’re up for an adventure, take a canoe and nature trail excursion through the rain forest or a wilderness exploration followed by a sumptuous crab feast you can’t resist.
Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska (Sawyer Glacier) – Book-ended by two of Alaska’s most dramatic glaciers, the North and South Sawyer, and surrounded by granite walls that rise 3,000 feet from the emerald colored seas, this area has everything you’ve come to Alaska to experience.
The Mount Robert Tramways takes visitors up 1,800 to spectacular views

Juneau, Alaska – The Mount Robert Tramways takes visitors up 1,800 to spectacular views

Here’s your chance to take a glacial dogsled adventure via helicopter in Alaska’s capital. A city that gracefully balances frontier ruggedness with cosmopolitan flair. Mendenhall Glacier, a river of ice measuring 1.5 miles in width and over 6 miles in length, is part of Juneau’s Icefield, 1500 square miles of ice that feeds 38 glaciers and ready for you to take a float trip on it.

 

Skagway, Alaska – The great Klondike Gold Rush lives on in Skagway’s charming downtown of restored 19th-century buildings and its historic railway. From the vintage train, admire the mountains and see the 1898 trail that fortune seekers traveled on foot. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot Trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada.

 

Photograph courtesy of BarrHead Travel

Alaska Inside PassagePhotograph courtesy of BarrHead Travel

You’ll sail beyond the Inside Passage into the more protected Alaska Inside Passage, a complex labyrinth of fjords and bays where whales and sea lions find refuge during the summer months.

Photograph courtesy of Travelemamas.com

Victoria, British Columbia – Butchart Gardens. Photograph courtesy of Travelemamas.com

The capital of British Columbia is also its largest island. This one-time British colony has retained much of its colonial splendor. Victoria is a seaside enclave that enjoys a temperate climate. Which is great, because you’ll want to explore all the museums, parks and golf courses Victoria has to offer.

CELEBRITY SOLSTICE FACTS

Double Occupancy Capacity: 2,850
Crew: 1246 – 1255
Guest Decks: 13
Staterooms: 1,426
Dining Venues: 10 (5 specialty, 5 non-specialty)
Bars/Lounges: 12
Tonnage: 122,000
Beam: 121 feet
Draught: 27 feet
Cruising Speed: 24 knots
Electric Current: 110/220 AC
Ship’s Registry: Malta
Ship Builder: Meyer Werft
Maiden Voyage: November 23, 2008
Godmother: Sharon L. Smith

STATEROOMS / FARES / COST

 

 

Deluxe Veranda Obstructed View (Category 2D) staterooms are 194 square feet with a 54 square foot balcony. These staterooms are discounted to $1,549 per person, double occupancy. These staterooms are on the deck above the lifeboats.  The amount of obstruction is guaranteed to be not higher than the balcony railing (so you will have a great view out when standing but may only have a partial view when seated on your balcony).  For an itinerary like Alaska with long days of stunning scenery passing by your window, a balcony stateroom is well worth the cost. There is only one stateroom in this category available at the MLA discounted rate.

 

Pricing does not include taxes and port charges of $204.51 per person.  The additional costs associated with the cruise (and this would be true for most cruises) are transfers to/from the ship (~$20 cab fare from the Seattle Sheraton to Smith Cove Terminal), shore excursions, alcoholic/specialty beverages, specialty dining, spa services and gratuities.  Additional guests can be added to a cabin for a reduced fare.  Solo travelers pay a 200% single supplement (so essentially you pay the same for the stateroom as two guests but you only pay taxes and port charges for one person).

FOOD AND DINING
One of the most common questions asked by friends who have never cruised is “Do you have to pay for food?” In short, yes and no.  Most cruise ships offer dining options included in the fare and some that are not. These always include the main dining room and the buffet and, often times, a few other options. Let’s deal with the complimentary dining options first…
Grand Epernay Dining Room
The main dining room on Celebrity Solstice is the spectacular Grand Epernay Dining Room, located on Decks 3 & 4, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  For dinner you will be scheduled for a seating; lunch and dinner do not require a seating….just show up.
Chandelier and Grand Epernay Dining Room.
Part of the ‘see through’ wine cellar (left) in the Grand Epernay Dining Room.
Oceanview Café
The Oceanview Cafe is listed in CruiseCritic’s 5 Best Cruise Ship Buffets (and with good reason).  The spacious buffet utilizes islands and active stations to serve a variety of international cuisines, including stir-fry, sushi, pasta and pizza. It also has an exceptional salad bar, meat-carving station and dessert station.

Oceanview Cafe Indoor Seating

Oceanview Cafe Indoor Seating

At the very back of the Oceanview Cafe is the outdoor dining area.

Room Service
The room service menu doesn’t mirror what’s on offer in the restaurants and is a basic (but well-prepared) menu.  There is a separate breakfast menu, resembling what you’d find in a nice hotel, which can be ordered the night before by filling out a menu door hanger.
Breakfast from the ‘hang on your stateroom door’ menu.
AquaSpa Café
Serving breakfast, lunch and snacks, the AquaSpa Café is located in the Solarium, a quiet, soothing adults only (covered) pool area next to the pool deck. The cafe features a creative take on light and healthy cuisine.
The AquaSpa Cafe is located directly behind the Solarium. Photograph courtesy of CruiseCritic

The AquaSpa Cafe is located directly behind the Solarium. Photograph courtesy of CruiseCritic

Mast Bar & Grill
The Mast Bar & Grill overlooks the pool deck.  Very basic bar menu.  Quick and easy and great on a nice day!
Café al Bacio
The sweet taste treats on offer are complimentary but you have to pay for coffee and gelati.

SPECIALTY DINING
There is an up charge for eating in these restaurants but if you are looking for absolutely amazing food, personalized service and not being in a dining room alongside a thousand of your nearest and dearest friends, you might consider dining a night or two in these restaurants.  The three formal specialty restaurants charge $30 to $45 but multi-day specialty dining packages are available and sometimes the cruise ship will offer specials to dine in a particular restaurant if the bookings are low.
The three formal specialty restaurants are:

 

Murano (Contemporary French)
Silk Harvest (Sushi/Pan-Asian)
Tuscan Grille (Steakhouse)
In addition to the specialty fine dining, the Solstice also offers a more relaxed French café (Bistro on Five) which serves crêpes, salads and paninis for $5 cover charge.
Bistro on Five.
SEAPASS AND GRATUITIES
You are given your SeaPass when you check in at the port before boarding. Once on board, your SeaPass acts as your room key and wallet. Whatever you accumulate on your SeaPass can either be charged to your credit card (card details given when you check in) or paid off with cash.. If you choose to have your SeaPass linked to a credit card, you can still pay it off with cash (if you want to put that casino win to good use!). Your itemised account is left at your cabin the night before disembarkation and SeaPasses linked to credit cards can still be used (very little is open the day you disembark) and charged after you leave the ship.  When it comes to gratuities, you can either pre-pay with your fare or you can pay a sum at the end of the cruise calculated on guidelines recommended by Celebrity Cruises. You can also pay ‘additional’ gratuities as you go if you think the service warrants it.
To read more about your SeaPass and gratuities, see the Celebrity Cruises FAQ page.

 

BARS, LOUNGES AND BEVERAGE PACKAGES

Like all cruise ships (which make a vast amount of revenue from selling drinks), there are a dozen bars and lounges on the Solstice.  One of the more entertaining options is the Martini Bar where the bartenders put on an amazing show while preparing your drinks.
Martini Bar bartender performing for the crowd.
Michael’s Club offers a selection of 64 international craft beers, whisky, cognacs and bourbon in a gentlemen’s club style lounge.
Cellar Masters offers wine by the pour from a wine dispensing system.  Note that wines from the dispensing system are not included in the beverage packages.
The Sky Lounge bar, located at the top of the ship, has a large dance floor and live music every night.
The Passport Bar.
The Sunset Bar was selected by the editors of CruiseCritic as one of the 30 Best Cruise Ship Bars.Located at the stern of the ship, the Sunset Bar’s unimpeded views are particularly breathtaking. Celebrity paid careful attention to the scenery in designing the bar, where railings are barely noticeable and glass spans as far as the eye can see. The proximity to the ships’ unique Lawn Clubs provides a breezy backyard feel and makes for the perfect location for a sunset cocktail.
Beverage packages are available for purchase and depending on your drinking habits, may or may not be a good deal.  If you prefer specific brands and/or your vacation practice might be to have a few more than you normally would (Hey, I’m on vacation), then you might look into a beverage package.  Another consideration is bottled water.  There is typically a charge for bottled water but it is included in the non-alcoholic beverage package.  Guests who are off the boat in every port often like the convenience of being able to grab a bottle or two before getting off the ship.  More information about beverage packages is available from the Celebrity Cruises Beverage Package page.

 

THE GRAND FOYER

The Grand Foyer serves as the ‘town square’ of the Celebrity Solstice.  This 12-story atrium hosts many of the ship’s bars, cafes and lounges as well as the Guest Relations and Shore Excursion desks.  Live musical acts perform on Deck 3, so their sound of music can often be heard throughout the Foyer.
The centerpiece of the Grand Foyer is a giant (living) tree.
THE LAWN CLUB
Celebrity Solstice Class ships are the only cruise ships in the world to have half an acre of manicured lawn – real lawn! The Lawn Club is located on the top deck of the ship, directly above the Oceanview Café and right next to the Sunset Bar.
Boules sets are available for games ‘on the lawn’…
Hot Glass Show

Dance lessons by the pool, a game of shuffleboard, sipping cocktails in a bar – these are things you usually associate with cruising. Something you don’t automatically think of is glass-blowing but this is where Celebrity is different, and right in the midst of the Lawn Club is the Hot Glass Show, presented by the Corning Museum of Glass, who hail from New York State in the USA.

 

 

POOL DECK AND SOLARIUM
 

When you think ‘cruise ship’, you invariably think ‘lazing by the pool’. The two really do go hand-in-hand. Celebrity Solstice is no different to any other cruise ship and its Pool Deck, for many, is the focal point of the ship and their cruise. Weather-permitting, the Pool Deck is open from 7am – 9pm. There are plenty of lounges out in the open if you want to top up your tan, otherwise there are many under cover, so you still get the sea breeze and atmosphere of the pool deck.

The Pool Deck.
The fountain on the Pool Deck.
Pool volleyball for the more energetic among you.
The Solarium
The Solarium is an adults only, completely under-cover pool area.On a good day, you might not find a reason to leave the Solarium. There is the AquaSpa Café, a bar and the actual AquaSpa, in case you need to get a soothing massage or treatment.
In the photo below, the small squares on the roof of the Solarium are solar panels. There are more solar panels all over the ship, including on top of the Bridge. Combined, they generate 230 kilowatts/day and save nearly 17 tons of fuel and over 54 tons of CO2 emissions.
The Solarium – a calm place indeed.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RELAXATION

 

Like all cruise ships, Celebrity Solstice provides lots of entertainment and relaxationr, and on some days you can choose from around 80 events, starting at 6am and going through until after midnight. After all, there are nearly 3,000 passengers onboard and they are all going to want to do something different.

 

The choice is mixed and varied, including table tennis tournaments, trivia contests, cooking shows, art auction previews, blackjack tournaments, Cuban Salsa dance lessons, cognac and brandy tasting, bingo, pilates, and vegetable carving demonstration. Alternatively, you can take a book and find a quiet corner somewhere or enjoy a game of cards in the games room. If none of that appeals, then put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your stateroom door and laze about in your cabin watching movies and ordering room service.

 

Once the sun goes down you can catch a show in the 1,400 seat theatre, get into the groove at the 1960s-theme night, enjoy a drink in your favourite bar, or dance the night away in a variety of places. The aim of the game when it comes to cruising is to do what you want and enjoy yourself doing it.

 

The ship’s dancers get the 1960s theme night off to a flying start.
Every cruise ship has a library and the library on the Solstice is one of the most stylish I’ve seen.
Solstice – The Show. Think Cirque du Soleil and you’re getting close.
Fortunes Casino
If you want to pay off your bar bill or your cruise (or whichever is the greater!), then Fortunes Casino could be for you. While there, you can choose from: Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, Craps, Slot Machines, Baccarat and Let It Ride.
The casino is somewhat tastefully presented opposite some of the shops, so you can wander past or join in. Shopping…casino…shopping…casino…hmmmmm…

 

AQUASPA AND FITNESS CENTER

One of the nice thing about any cruise is the extra pampering you receive if you make a booking in the onboard Spa. On Celebrity Solstice it is the AquaSpa.
Rest, relax and be pampered.
Somewhere nice to wait
The relaxation room is the waiting room when you book a spa treatment. Fruit-infused water and tea are served.
The Relaxation Room looks out to sea over the bow of the ship.

The Fitness Center

The view is spectacular.
SHOPPING
At the start of this post I wrote – “Imagine walking into the lobby of a five-star hotel with sumptuous furnishings, fine dining and stylish bars”. I didn’t include ‘shopping’.  Like most everything on Celebrity Solstice, the shops are tastefully included in the whole cruising experience.
When Solstice is in port, the shops are closed. As soon as the ship is clear of the port, the shops then open. During days at sea, the shops are open from 9am to as late as midnight.

 

FOR KIDS AND TEENS

Celebrity’s award-winning cruise experience is designed for all ages and interests. Most programs are geared to specific age groups and supervised by experienced youth staff members.

Toddler Time (for kids under 3): Toddler time allows parents and toddlers to interact with other children their age. and toys suitable for this age group. Parents/guardians must accompany their child during Toddler Time and toddlers do not need to be potty trained.

Fun Factory (for kids 3-11): Activities, arranged by age group, are available 9AM-10PM every day. Kids can participate in exciting games, sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties, movies and more.

X Club (for teens): For young adults, Celebrity offers the ultimate hangout place for teens, featuring social activities, the newest gaming consoles and titles, sports activities, even teens-only late night dances. All activities are hosted and supervised by Youth Counselors. For up-and-coming “directors,” Celebrity offers the coolest video project at sea. First, young visionaries brainstorm a storyboard for the short videos to be created. Then, armed with GoPro Hero 3 high definition, wide-angle video cameras (used to film extreme sports and other cool events), they’ll head out to get the shots they planned (even underwater!). After the filming, they’ll learn how to edit their videos in the cyber chic Celebrity iLounge. Prizes will be awarded in a variety of film categories at the XClub Film Festival & Award Ceremony. This complimentary program takes about 4 hours to complete.

Plus enjoy one of the largest Xbox Experiences at Sea.  Celebrity has outfitted their ships with dedicated Xbox stations and mobile consoles to feature one of the largest digital game and entertainment experiences at sea. Whether playing solo, or participating in an Xbox tournament or gaming theme night, there’s something for everyone in your family—from our youngest gamer to our most savvy teens. We even have programming for adults (but we won’t let the kids in on that little secret).


INTERNET

There is an ‘internet cafe’ onboard in the form of the iLounge (yes, it is affiliated with Apple and Macs are used). You’re on the high seas in the middle of the ocean, so please don’t get too worked up because the internet connection isn’t operating at broadband speed. Reminisce a little and take yourself back to the good old days of dial-up…aaaaah, that’s better…

Also, and please don’t gasp, but it’s not super-cheap, either (you should be up sitting by the pool anyway!):  Casual rate – 75c/minute Prepaid (cannot be refunded)$24.95 – 38 mins, 65c/min$49.95 – 90 mins, 55c/min$99.95 – 208 mins, 48c/min$199.95 – 555 mins, 36c/min$399.95 – 1666 mins, 24c/min WiFi is available throughout the ship.

The iLounge is open 24 hours and also offers classes where you can learn to, among other things, use iMovie, iPhoto, iCloud and are shown iPad tips and tricks.

 

ART & PHOTO GALLERY

What would a cruise be without photos, especially those taken by the ship’s team of photographers. I think there was a cloning programme happening onboard because they were everywhere! You get photographed when you first get on board, then every subsequent time you get off and back on the ship, at dinner, by the pool, sitting at the bar at night, on formal nights, every other night, when you meet the captain – you get the idea.  To showcase all the photos taken (and they are all printed and put out on display), there is a photo gallery where you can look at your photos and laugh at everyone else’s. The photos aren’t placed in any particular order, so you have to search through everyone else’s, hence the opportunity to have a few chuckles.  Of course, the photos are for sale. You can buy them individually, sign up to packages, or get them reproduced digitally.

Art Gallery.  Park West runs the art gallery and art auctions onboard Celebrity Solstice. They have pieces available for all tastes and budgets. Among other things, Park West run art lectures and are really pro-active when it comes to selling their art. Art auctions aren’t the only place where you can see artwork. It is scattered throughout the ship.

Artwork is placed on display.

 

CLOTHING

On an Alaskan cruise, the most important thing to remember is: Layers.
Take a light jacket, fleece clothing, a warm hat and gloves for layering in unpredictable weather. Since weather varies even if you get the best, bring all possible options from short sleeves and shorts to long sleeves and rain gear. Don’t buy fleece and windbreakers before you go. All of the ports sell jackets and fleece very inexpensively. They are nice souvenirs, but remember to leave room when you are packing to bring them home.
In addition, don’t forget your mosquito repellant (to keep the state bird of Alaska at bay).

 

CELEBRITY TODAY ONBOARD NEWSLETTER

 

A cruise ship is like a town and, like any town, there are things happening that ‘the locals’ need to know about via the local newspaper. Celebrity TODAY is that newspaper and it’s left in your cabin every evening by your stateroom attendant.

The Celebrity TODAY newsletter tells you everything that is happening in and around the ship, from a chronological rundown of the day’s activities onboard, to specials that are happening in e.g. the AquaSpa, to opening times of all the ship’s venues, to a history of whichever port we happen to be in, to shore excursion ideas, and a whole lot more.  I’ve provided a sample newsletter below so you can get a general sense of the range of activities that the Solstice offers.

The front page, with a brief rundown of the day’s highlights (it even tells you how much the slots have paid out during the cruise up until then).
The chronological order of the day’s events. Time to grab your pen and start circling!

If your copy of Celebrity TODAY can’t help you, then the Guest Relations desk is open 24 hours and they can guide you through any queries you have.

In summary, I hope this blog post has given you a taste of what a Celebrity Solstice cruise would be like.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Steve Shadle if you’re ready to book your Alaskan cruise or if you have any questions!

Looking forward to seeing you all in Seattle!!!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s