Northwest Cruise

September 30, 2006 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment

Catching up on my Blog so this is a report for a past trip (as requested from my brother-in-law Todd a while back)…

In late September we decided to take my Grandmother on a 3-night Cruise that left from Seattle.  Not having to deal with the airports and flying was a big plus making this trip possible.  Lisa and I hadn’t been on a cruise since the 1-week Alaska Cruise we took on Royal Caribbean back in the summer of 1999.   We would be traveling with our kids, my parents, and my sister also.

I was looking forward to cruising on Celebrity as I had read this cruise line was a step up (at least in food and service) from the other major lines.  We left in the afternoon on a Friday and returned early Monday morning so it was actually only a 2-1/2 day cruise.  The itinerary consisted of Victoria the first day, then Nanaimo the second day. 

We stayed in a family suite which was on one of the upper decks in the back of the ship that had a view pointing out the back of the ship.  The room had a Queen size bed and two bunk beds and a sofa that could sleep one so it could actually accomodate a family of 5!  Unfortunately the room had some serious drawbacks.  The bed was rock hard.  I like firm beds but even this one made me sore the next morning.  Lisa was misrable in this bed.  The other problem was that when the ship docked in a port, the thrusters they used shook our room violently like there was an earthquake.  The problem is the docking procedure took well over an hour if not closer to two, and begain at about 4:30 in the morning!  It was nice to not be  woken up the second morning because the ship anchored off Nanaimo instead of docking.

The ship overall was a great ship.  Not one of those brand new gigantic mega-liners yet never felt crowded.  Very nicely decorated.  I wide variety of things to do including theaters, bars, game room, basketball court, casino, library, spa, exercise facility, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, you name it, the ship had it. 

The ports of call are not noteworthy having already been to them or been familiar with them.  We didn’t even bother getting off the ship in Victoria as there was plenty to do on the ship.  In Nanaimo we had to take a 15 minute tender ride into shore which was a novelty for the boys.  Me and the boys spent most of the time at the cool playground ride next to the water while everyone else went shopping.

 We left the ship on Monday with mixed emotions about the whole trip.  We were happy to have spent time with my Grandma and she thouroughly enjoyed the trip as did we for much of it.  But the bad experiences we had put a damper on having a fully enjoyable trip.  Here are the higlights…

The food and service did seem to live up to its reputation; it was excellent.  However, like most other cruise lines, the drinks (beer, wine, and even pop) were of course not included in the price of the cruise and they were really expensive, like $8 or $9 for a glass of red wine.  They did offer a soft drink card that got you unlimited soft drinks for $15 a day.  You had to pay for a full three days and I quickly realized it wasn’t worth it.  In fact, the beverage service was an area where the cruise line faultered in my opinion.  They had juice dispensers all over the place with three different kinds of juices that you could have as much of as you wanted.  You would think they would just add $10 to the price of a ticket for everyone and include soft drinks for free for anyone that wanted it by having soft drink machines right next to the juice machines.  This would also be a great differentiating feature as I’m guessing most all cruise lines charge for soft drinks.   But then maybe people would drink less beer and wine if there was unlimited soft drinks?  I wonder what their thinking is on this? In addition, the problem with ordering soft drinks, whether you were eating in the restaurant or in the buffet, was that it usually took to long.  It usually took a few minutes for the waiter to show up to take your order (if you were eating at the buffet you already had your food) and then another 10 minutes or so before they  returned from the ‘soft drink vault’ with your drink.  I began to order two at a time because I found myself finishing the first and then I was through with my meal before the waiter returned.  I guess this is one area the service was a little lacking.  No big deal though but I found it interesting and sort of chincy. Overall though the food service was excellent as I mentioned, both the restaurant and the great buffets.

We did have a somewhat tramatic experience at dinner one night.  When we initially booked  the cruise we contacted the cruise line via fax to let them know about Jordan’s dairy allergy.  The first dinner we were surprised to find our waiter knew nothing about it.  However both him and the head Maitre d’ were very concerned about it and insured they would make sure it was taken care.  At dinner one night whomever was scooping the sorbet also used the scoop for ice cream.  You couldn’t tell by looking at it but Jordan had a pretty severe reaction enough for us to rush him to the medical facility where we were surprised how long it took them to open the facility for us (there seemed to be a bit of a language barrier while Lisa was trying to explain over the emergency phone the situation) and the staff, including the doctor, seemed to have no sense of urgency and a bit clueless about the severity of the reaction.  It really put a damper on our evening to say the least.  Jordan ended up throwing up in bed.  It was a mess.  The dining staff was horrified and extremely apologetic.  I since wrote to the President of the cruise line about the incident and the issues with our room and I got a follow up call about a month later from some lady.  What I didn’t get was a full or partial refund or credit for a future cruise – I was very surprised.  I told them to have one of their staff members stay in the room we stayed in a few nights.  They would not book those rooms if they experienced the 5 AM 2-hour earthquakes themselves.

On a positive note, one night we went to a comedy show.  The guy was absolutely hilarious.  I’m happy (and at the same time sad) to say I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in 20 years.  This in itself *almost* made up for the bad experiences.

The other highlight was our first ride in a Seaplane in Nanaimo.  We took a short 30-40 minute tour of the area.  Jordan got to sit in front.  It was great.  Nolan fell asleep!!   He then cried when he came to find he slept through the landing.

Lisa is now apprehensive about going on anymore cruises due to the experience with Jordan’s allergy and I can’t say I blame her.  One thing I told the cruise line is if they want a model how to handle allergies right, study how Disney does it.  Dining at Disney facilities has always been a pleasure.  They are really on the ball about the allergies because so many kids have them these days and that kind of experience could ruin your day at a Disney Park or Resort not to mention the liability issue.  Maybe if we go on a cruise again in the near future it will be a Disney cruise?

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