Thinking About an Alaskan Cruise? Experience Worth the Time & Money?

The 49th State is a sight to see!  If you get the chance go!  If you don’t have the chance, make it happen anyway! That’s what we did and we did it the cruising way.

Is an Alaskan Cruise Worth the Planning?

Alaska is one of those states that is a must see. Why? Because it is there, that’s the main reason. If you share my goal of visiting all the 50 states, Alaska and Hawaii are the two that will most likely take the most planning and thought. But what is the easiest ways to see America’s Icebox, Seward’s Folly, The Frozen North, The Klondike, The Last Frontier? We decided to see a lot of Alaska by land, sea, and air, all by booking a Celebrity Cruise.

My copilot on this trip was a great friend and a seasoned cruiser. His knowledge of cruises, ships, and everything that goes along with it is something I rely on. I don’t say, “Here’s my card, charge it,” but yeah, I almost do. My must haves were a cruise to Alaska during a good time of the year and that’s about it. Celebrity / Royal Caribbean has always treated both of us well, so I was looking to stay with them and he agreed. Many other cruise lines offer Alaskan cruises, you’ll see their ships when you’re in port or navigating through some passages. Which company should you go with? Do your research, read the cruise line reviews, review the specific ships if you wish. I was very content with Celebrity and what they had to offer.


There are two big decisions to make when initially deciding on an Alaskan cruise; what is your departure port, will you do a round trip journey or one way?

Vancouver and Seattle are the most common departure ports. We were familiar with both cities so either one would have been fine to start our journey from, but knowing the ease of getting from the Seattle airport into the city and the desire to check out the LGBTQ Bar scene post COVID there, we chose a round trip to and from Seattle.

The August 11, 2023 cruise on the Celebrity Solstice departs from Seattle, Washington. On this 7 Night Alaska Dawes Glacier sailing, the ship will visit a total of 7 different cruise port destinations, including its departure port. The Celebrity Solstice sets sail on a Friday (August 11, 2023) and returns on a Friday (August 18, 2023).


Cruise ships in Alaska range in size. You may not find some of the bigger ships present as there are some great opportunities to get closer to the glaciers but if you’re too big, then that may limit your journey. Some ships may have limitations as they are not able to go where others can go which may limit some of the at sea days. So if you’ve heard of places you want to see or go, keep that in mind and make sure your ship can go there.

What is Going to Make or Break Your Alaskan Cruise?

Your Room

Alaska – CHECK, Celebrity – CHECK, Seattle – CHECK. The next thing, I wanted a room with a nice balcony with a great view (some can be smaller and have an obstructed view). I didn’t care what room we reserved as long as it had a big enough balcony to go out on it, sit down, stretch your legs and fall asleep in the fresh air. And after this cruise, I know a great balcony/veranda is a must for an Alaskan cruise. There were some times when we were cruising through the passages or closer to land, I was right out there in my own space, not elbowing anyone for viewing pleasure, not dealing with kids or old people, but just me and nature watching it all go by. A couple of naps were had and glaciers, whales, bears, otters, bald eagles, all were seen steps from my bed. Yes, of course you can go above and be on a deck chair or along the railing with others, but I love losing myself on my own balcony with the always changing view of the beauty that is Alaska. This recharge on my own private spot was so moving and truly a place I return to mentally often. I also prefer being on a higher floor/deck. Our room 1010 was closer to the food and the larger outdoor community decks and 1010 on deck 10 was very easy to remember. I think you see more and get to feel you are truly on a cruise if you are on a higher floor. Some say if you’re closer to the water you can see the wildlife better.  This may be true, but I saw them just fine. Bring binoculars anyway, no matter what floor/deck you’re on.

If you just google any ship name and a room number, you can often find a video of the room. This one is of 1010 on the sister ship of the Celebrity Solstice, the Celebrity Refection. I took my own, but this one is pretty good so I’ll share. And for the main website for the Celebrity Solstice, go here.


Our booking was part of the concierge class of rooms which provided us with some daily yum yums delivered to our room that were quite pleasing.

What makes a state room a Concierge-Class Stateroom (link with more info)? I think it was worth it for the personal service, great sheets, and daily delectables.


Little details make a world of difference, and now our meticulously thought out Concierge Class staterooms are even better. Featuring services, amenities, and exclusive events, step inside and discover a space that is so much more than a room—it’s an experience. As a Concierge Class guest, your team of dedicated professionals will take care of all your vacation needs not just at your room 24 hours, but also at dinner service.

Food and Beverages

When there is access to food just about any time and then add the classic or the premium drink package, there was no want left unsatisfied. I would recommend looking at the alcohols in both packages and consider how long you will be on the ship and do the math. For this trip, we did go with the premium as we wanted to live it up, but if you’re going to take it easy or even keeled, the classic drink package would be a great decision.

What I did enjoy about the Solstice was the multiple spots to have a beverage. Some were where you could people watch like The Martini Bar and The Passport Bar while others were borderline intimate and some semi-privacy was enjoyed like in the Wine Bar and The Retreat Bar. Be sure to be at The Sunset Bar at the aft of the ship as you pull out of Seattle.

Leaving Seattle and the view from the Sunset Bar

The variety of food ranged from simple and tasty burgers from The Mast Grill to some elegant options like The Tuscan Grille and Murano which are still fighting in my head for the best meals we had. Plan ahead and have at least one special meal in a specialty restaurant as they are very memorable. There was some fluctuation of offerings throughout the week across the ship even in the main restaurant room as well as in the Oceanview Café, where they worked to use and highlight some of the fresh catches found on the Alaskan docks. I would have liked a little more variance in the main restaurant as some nights the menu was repetitive but did have enough great options to choose from. For all of the food and beverage options on the Celebrity Solstice, go here.

At Sea and On Board Boredom?

That’s one question people ask the most. Besides “were you sea sick?”, they ask, “were you bored at sea?” You are able to do so many things while on the ship, you just have to leave the room and go forth and make friends or find a spot to sit down and people watch. It’ very easy to make friends on a cruise as everyone there is have a great time. Celebrity did a great job of providing a great daily itinerary with some consistent activities, but also many new experiences for all ages. Games and Trivia were great, educational sessions with scientist to talk about the flora and fauna of Alaska and the surrounding ocean, and they also highlight other games, educational experiences, mentioned the art, gambling, and shopping events, musicals, plays, performances, spas, gym, swimming, relaxing. I will say the wifi was not always the best, but that is 100% standard on cruise ships, or at least what I experienced. I did pay for the wifi package, but did not use it too much. Cable television is in every suite/bedroom. And you could always just eat more, drink more.

Bored? I don’t think it would be possible, but if you find yourself thinking that on a cruise ship, remember to look out or get out on your balcony or one of the decks.  There were not too many hours where you did not see some land somewhere or another cruise ship off in the distance. Wildlife could be seen quite often, glaciers big and small and BIG and HUUUGE could be seen with their varying shades of white, blue, and clear. I think they talked about the varying colors, but at the time, I was just in awe and highly inspired.


Dawes Glacier was one of the days we were at sea, but not really. Going up the fjord to the glacier, where we were able to get within 2 miles, was breathtaking.  Getting up the Endicott Arm to view the glacier might have been more than half the excitement. I doubt you have seen so many waterfalls and so large within a short amount of time as the melting ice and snow cascaded down the valley sides. Alaska was on full display.

I will say, some days it was cool on the upper decks, so if you’re a delicate flower, pack a jacket and a wind breaker or raincoat just in case.

Excursions May or May Not Happen

The opportunity to do something exceptional on top of being on a ship off the coast of Alaska? Sign me up! A variable that may add to your cruise date selection or even cruise line selection may be what excursions are available. We selected a handful of great excursions from the Celebrity Cruise Line offerings that we could only do in Alaska. Yes, they are an additional cost and some of them start off int he double digits but some can get $700 to $800+ per person. Weigh the price against the question, “Will you ever have a chance to do it again?” We were psyched for all our excursions, but unfortunately, when you’re dealing with mother nature and the elements and human bodies flying through the air, things may get canceled. And that’s what it happened with two of our excursions. We had one excursion for a seaplane ride to a glacier and unfortunately it was overcast in the early morning and had to be cancelled. But, of course, as the ship was pulling out of the harbor, the skies cleared up and it was a beautiful day. The other excursion was a helicopter ride to land on a glacier, and once again the weather was not in our favor that day either. True fact, one of the cities we were in port for, it has an average of 66 days out of the year where it is NOT raining. This reassured us that it wasn’t a fluke that only our excursion was canceled. It happens. And the fact that it happens, Celebrity Cruise Lines rolled with the punches, rolled with the clouds, and took very good care of us. Replacement excursions were offered and/or reimbursements and we did both depending on what we were able to slide into our calendar for the remainder of that day. The understanding, the smiles, the professionalism when we were very distraught that we could not go on a plane ride or a helicopter ride, Celebrity was just great to deal with, even though we were all very mad at mother nature.

The couple of times that our excursions were canceled, we had a very enjoyable time of just walking around that port city to see what we could see. And I recommend looking at what is in the city to do even if you have an excursion planned, because some excursions do not take all day, and the cruise line actually gives you some ample time to do both excursions and sightseeing, much more port time than I have experienced in other regions of the world. Many of the cities had breweries, shopping, restaurants, museums, that were not on the excursion list, but we found very enjoyable. And in every city, you will find very happy people, very welcoming people, people ready to take your money. They all work hard when the cruise ships come in, seven days a week to pull that tourist money away from you, but it is a wonderful exchange, because Alaskan cities are cute and fun!

The Other Passengers


Be nice! Be happy! Be polite! You’re going to see some of the fellow travelers and some you will see just once. Some will be 3 sheets to the wind while others will be in their wheelchairs and walkers going through security in front of you. You’re all on vacation. Enjoy. 

I don’t think it matters which cruise line you are on, you will see kids and old people and everyone in the middle (except the adults only Virgin).

We as well had a gay group on board that booked a good number of rooms. We would see them on occasion around the ship as well as at the Friends of Dorothy gatherings organized by Celebrity on the ship in a certain spot. Most cruise lines have a similar offering. I do enjoy it better when the events are in more of a closed area instead of where it was on the Celebrity Solstice as the event was in the Passport Lounge, very out in the open and not really an event, but just a time and a place on the schedule. It was not every night and was not well attended after the first night. 

Worth What Price?


The overall amount of money I spent on this cruise? I really do not know. We split the room cost of $3,300 or so, the excursions were another $1,000 at least per person, the shopping, drinking, and eating while on shore, plus the hotels before and after, the food and drinks in Seattle before and after, and then the airfare to Seattle and back. Yeah, I didn’t want to add that up and still haven’t. But I also helped justify this spending as two vacations in one with the total of three nights of staying in Seattle, one before and two after. Cruising and travel is a monetary commitment. It is a time commitment.

It Is Well Worth The Commitment?

Fun was had, even though our plans were altered. Friends were made that will be friends for a while. The beauty of Alaska was enjoyed, inspiring, majestic, raw, wet, green, cold, massive, memorable. Would I do it again?  I think yes. There are a couple of other regions of the world I would like visit and have a cruise ship as my transportation, but if the right scenario presented itself, like more inland excursions to like Denali, sign me up. I can add that to my Alaskan memory bank. 

When to Plan


NOW NOW NOW. Start the process now in the fall before the preferred Summer sailing season in Alaska. Start booking things and solidify what you will be doing. Start doing your research as to which cruise line, which ports, which origin city, round trip or one way. When we talked to Celebrity, they mentioned that booking in the previous Fall will make sure your chosen route/ship/port does not sell out from under you in Spring. 

There are many sales throughout the year across the cruise industry, but if are looking to solidify for next Summer, head over to Celebrity Cruise as they are going to have a Black Friday sale after Thanksgiving. Not telling you to pull the trigger this month, but we did last year November for this past August and the payment schedule and the knowledge that all was ready and paid for ahead of schedule, it made the wait for the actual cruise month much easier. 

Here is one recent post/review of the Celebrity Solstice. I don’t agree with some of the criticisms, but this is just one of many reviews out there you can find. 

2 thoughts on “Thinking About an Alaskan Cruise? Experience Worth the Time & Money?”

    • No correction needed. If you look at the pictures in the gallery in the “Excursions May or May Not Happen” section, you will see we took a train into The Yukon Territory. Passport was needed as we crossed into Canada.


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