This past July I took a Celebrity Solstice cruise from Seattle to Alaska. It was an incredible seven day cruise that went to three different ports in Alaska, two glaciers, icebergs, a fjord, whales, and British Columbia before returning to explore Seattle. I loved all the sights and sounds I experienced on and off the cruise, but there were some aspects of cruising I didn’t love. I want to share both the good and the not so good when it comes to cruising.
What I loved:
You can’t beat the views you get from a cruise. The colorful sunrises and sunsets, the miles of sparkling ocean with no land in sight, the wake of the cruise ship trailing behind, and access to places such as the Tracy Arm Fjord and Twin Glaciers. I also loved waking up in a new port at 6am and stepping outside on the balcony to see the view of a brand new town before me!
Cruises provide forced relaxation. For most of the trip I didn’t have Internet or phone service (which was both painful and magnificent.) During the two “sea days”- which are days where you are traveling the entire day and night without stopping at a port – I had absolutely nothing to do but relax. My cousins and I spent our time going to the gym and relaxing in the sauna and the hot tubs on deck. We ate lots of food, took naps, admired the views and explored the ship. It was a strange sensation to have nothing to do, but it felt nice to really get into a relaxation mode.
Planning (already done for you!)
When traveling to a new place much of the trip is spent figuring things out… “Where do I eat? What should I see? Where should I stay? How do I get from the airport to my hotel?”…and so on. The beauty of cruising is all the logistics are sorted out for you. The ports, the transportation, even the onshore activities are organized in advance. This allowed for pure enjoyment when we arrived at each of our destinations. We could take in all the beauty of each port and not have to think about the logistics.
Everyone knows the real reason to take a cruise is the endless food, right? But seriously, you have access to all types of food 24/7 on a cruise. For some reason, my cousins and I became obsessed with the ice cream on board. I also loved waking up every morning to the room service order I had placed the night before- a pot of coffee, a croissant, and fresh fruit. I took that to my cousin’s room, sat out on her balcony, and watched the beautiful scenery pass by. Can every morning start that way?
What I didn’t love:
Oh yes…seasickness. It’s the worst! On the second day of our cruise we had a “sea day” and it was rough. The waves were nine feet high and I could feel the massive cruise ship swaying beneath me. The captain even apologized saying the seas were a bit rougher than usual. I couldn’t do much that day due to the nausea and dizziness I felt. Luckily, it eventually passed and I adjusted. Being seasick is no fun.
Lack of flexibility/spontaneity
I enjoy allowing room for spontaneity on a vacation, but cruises set an itinerary for you. There is no skipping ahead if you don’t particularly love a destination, nor can you stay longer at one place if you fall in love with it. You have to keep moving along with the other cruisers! The good news is there is plenty to do onshore with all the activities and excursions they make available, so although you can’t change up destinations there are still plenty of unique experiences to be had.
If I could change something about the cruise I took it would have been to explore more beyond the ports. The ports were adorable and scenic, but they were also quite touristy. Thousands of cruise ships pass through these same ports every year so the towns are filled with souvenirs and lots of kitschy stores to attract vacationers. I would have enjoyed seeing some more “authentic” Alaskan spots. They do have cruises to Alaska that include everything I did plus an inland tour, so that would be a great option for those that would like a more authentic Alaskan experience.
Overall this trip was an experience of a lifetime. The staff on the Celebrity Solstice were unbelievable. They kept the entire ship crystal clean the whole week. The public facilities were spotless and our rooms were cleaned twice a day! We felt like royalty the whole trip.
Have you ever cruised before? What did you like? Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?