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Alaska pre-cruise blog #1 - 5/24/14

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Alaska pre-cruise blog #1 - 5/24/14

Alaska 2013 Blog – Part One

Jan Fisher and I are on a “fam” trip on Celebrity Cruise Lines’ beautiful Solstice, the same ship you will be on next week. Fam is short for familiarization, which means that we are meeting with various department heads and getting familiar with the staff so that our poker cruise next week goes smoothly. Also, we’re checking out every aspect of the ship and life aboard in order to be able to answer your questions, make recommendations, etc.

I’m hoping to send three blogs this week. Today’s blog deals with embarkation, our initial day at sea, and our first impressions of the ship, along with some helpful hints.

Getting to the ship is easy. We already had been in Seattle for 48 hours but last year we hired a town car from the airport for $60. Other options are about $30 per person for a ship’s transfer (must be ordered by tomorrow), or approximately $50 by taxi. When we got to the pier at 2:30, there were still long lines to get on the ship, so I recommend that you enjoy beautiful Seattle (do the Duck tour, underground tour, Pike Place market, etc) and get to the cruise terminal between 3:00 and 3:30pm. If you want more info about Seattle and things to do and how to get there email Jan privately at As a local, she can answer your questions as she is able to get online in port. Her speed in getting back will be totally dependent on an affordable connection

The ship is beautiful! She has lots of bars, and lounges and private areas to sit and converse with friends. There are some features that I’ve never seen on a cruise ship such as a glass blowing area and a grassy yard where you can practice lawn bowling or bocce ball or just have a picnic.

My initial impression of the standard staterooms is that they are slightly smaller than on most other ships. Drawer space is limited. Be sure to bring chargers for your phones, computers, cameras, MP3 players, etc. Our luggage arrived very quickly which gave us time to unpack before the 4:15pm mandatory fire drill.

Here are some tips to make your first day go smoothly:

1.     Lay out everything you are planning to pack for the trip, Next, put at least 1/3 of it back in the closet. Be sure to bring a raincoat and/or an umbrella, walking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, cameras, and binoculars.

2.     Keep your passport, online check-in, reading material, and any medications in an easy-to-reach place.

3.     We talked to people who arrived at noon and they said that the embarkation process took about 90 minutes. Unless you like waiting in line, don’t arrive before 3pm. Once onboard, come to the conference room next to the sky lounge observatory on deck 14 to pick up your badge before 3:30 pm. Please come to our welcome aboard party at 5PM in the poker room.

4.     Make a plan with your traveling companion(s) about what to do if you get separated. If you can’t reach one another by cell phone, I suggest that you go back to the last place you remember being together.

5.     If there are a lot of people boarding at the same time as you, the elevators will be difficult to access since everyone is scrambling to get to their rooms. There is a second bank of elevators behind the first one that arriving passengers won’t know about so just go around and you won’t have to wait.

6.     It’s okay to get on the ship hungry; you won’t be for long. There is a wonderful buffet available for you when you arrive. Have someone grab a table and chairs or join another group.

7.     May 25 is your last opportunity to book excursions online. Please do so for best availability. Many of the excursions sell out so book now to help keep you from being disappointed. I sent out an email about recommended excursions. Please be sure to read the instructions and sign up before the end of business today. I heard people in the lobby complaining that they didn't get to book some trips they wanted because they were sold out before we got on the ship-...don't let this happen to you! There is still some room on the White Pass Scenic Railroad trip in Skagway. There is so much to see and do, so take excursions, go flight-seeing, go whale watching (guaranteed sightings), walk on a glacier... do stuff! You may not get back to Alaska!

8.     If you are planning to go to any of the pay restaurants, make your reservations as soon as possible after you check in with the poker room. By the way, although the pay restaurants are great, the dining room food is excellent too, so there really is no need to pay for dinner

9.     Be prepared to dress in layers. The weather in Alaska changes hour to hour.

10.  The best way to stay healthy on a cruise is to wash your hands often. There are Purell sanitizing machines all over the ship…use them!

Be sure to check before you leave home. I’ll try to send another blog about the ports. Tomorrow is a day at sea and then our first port is Ketchikan. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Friday.

Travel safely,

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