We’re sailing in Alaska’s Inside Passage on our way to Ketchikan!…Long wait at Canada Place, port of Vancouver…

It’s not as cold outside on the decks as one might think. So we wandered outdoors without jackets, and it was cool but not intolerable. 

We stuck with our plan to leave for Canada Place, the port in Vancouver, at 2:00 pm. However, the drive through traffic and the short line of taxis made us hopeful we’d made the correct decision to wait until later in the day instead of an early morning port arrival.

Overall, our instincts to arrive later than the allowed 11:00 am attempts to board were correct but not by much. Most likely, we avoided only about 30 minutes of waiting time to get onto the ship.

Dark, cloudy, and foggy through the Inside Passage today, photo ops are limited. But, as we move along on this journey, more will transpire.

Never, in all of our past 19 cruises in these past 55 months, have we waited in such huge lines with so many people. Luckily, we are “Elite” members, which allowed us to wait in shorter lines for cruise check-in and immigration. 

Had we not been members with Captain’s Club perks, our wait could easily have been a four-hour wait instead of our two-and-a-half-hour wait. Instead, in many cases, we scurried along into much shorter queues along with many others with similar designations. 

Logs along the shore.

It pays to sail with one cruise line (the same parent company owns celebrity and Royal Caribbean, and perks are interchangeable). By 4:45 pm, we were seated in the main dining room for the muster drill along with other Captain’s Club members while many others stood outdoors for their muster drill. We were grateful to be indoors when it was very cool in Vancouver.

Our luggage arrived in our cabin before dinner, but there wasn’t ample time to unpack everything, especially when we had piles of dirty clothes we needed to sort to have it laundered, a task we never handled in Vancouver.

We’re not expecting to see a lot of wildlife on this cruise since it’s early in the season. However, if we have a little “safari luck,” we’ll be thrilled.

As Captain’s Club Elite members, we’re entitled to two free bags of laundry to include up to 20 items. Upon returning to our cabin after the 9:00 pm movie (“Fences,” worth watching), we completed the unpacking, leaving a huge pile of dirty clothes.

This morning we neatly folded the dirty laundry into the paper bag and completed the “laundry list” to be submitted with the order. There was no problem coming up with 20 items.  Our cabin steward assured us we’d have it all back by tomorrow since few, if any, other passengers had requested laundry service on this first day at sea.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas, the ship we sailed for 33 nights that circumvented the entire Australian continent, ending on December 3, 2016. 

Dinner in the Grand Epernay was perfect. First, I met Evan, who’ll oversee my special diet, which seems quite attentive and concerned for accuracy in presenting my meals.

This morning we had a light breakfast of poached eggs and a little bacon. We love interacting with other passengers at mealtime and will try to eat three times a day on this cruise.  I seem to feel better when I eat three small meals rather than one or two large meals a day.

Low-lying clouds drift through the hills and mountains.

Now, we’re situated in the Cafe al Bacio on deck five in the same seats as on the past three Celebrity Solstice cruises. We can’t believe how many staff members aboard this ship remember us! How is that possible? They are so friendly and warm. 

The free drink policy for Elite members isn’t as comprehensive as on Royal Caribbean. For example, the Captain’s Club happy hour is only from 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the Sky Lounge, whereby on the last RC cruise, members could drink for free from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. Also, three drinks each were allowed from any bar during this time frame.

So far, the scenery through the Inside Passage consists of mountains and forests. 

Guess we’ll stay put in the Sky Lounge for those two hours each evening while Tom enjoys his favorite cocktail, Cognac and Sprite Zero on the rocks. I’m still not drinking wine and honestly don’t miss it. Well, maybe a little.  Those glasses of Cabernet and Merlot do cause my heart to flutter a bit. So it goes.

We’re content and looking forward to checking out the various ports of call in Alaska on our own time as we see fit. Unfortunately, with some big expenses on the horizon, we’ve had to avoid any of the ship’s expensive tours. 

The budget always supersedes our desires if we intend to do some of the more special locations (i.e., Antarctica and Africa) and continue indefinitely. However, there’s no doubt that certain sacrifices are necessary to continue this nomadic life. 

In our travels, we regret nothing, nor have we missed anything that was ultimately important to us. So may your day, your life, be free of regrets.

Photo from one year ago today, May 18, 2016:

In Bali, note the hat on the woman in red, known as a sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, bamboo hat, or Raiden hat, is carrying more rice from the fields while the guy in blue talks on his phone. For more details about rice paddies, please click here.

The second cruise we booked on Friday…

Red berries growing on a palm tree.

It’s odd how we often book two cruises at once or I should say, Tom books two cruises at once. I suppose he decides to book two cruises when it’s related to the fact that particular promotion is taking place at the time of booking.

Celebrity has a promotion at this time, called, “1, 2,3 Go!” which includes: one, cost of gratuities; two, value of an onboard cabin credit; and three, which is the drink package for two, valued at roughly $60 per person per day.  If one chooses the “concierge class” (an upgraded cabin and location), all three promos are included. If you choose certain balcony classes, a traveler may choose one or two of the three options.

Celebrity Solstice, which we sailed on our way to Honolulu in October is the same ship for these two recently booked cruises.

We weren’t able to choose the “1,2,3 Go!” package when booking the cruise, we posted yesterday when it wasn’t available for that particular sailing.

Tom always tries to make it work that we get all three when the cost differential is worthwhile since the upgraded cabins have a higher cost. The big issue for us is that I don’t drink alcohol, juice, or sugary beverages, making it redundant for me to end up with a “free” drink package.  How much included bottled water can one drink in a day?

Here’s a link that further explains the “1, 2, 3 Go!” package.

Plus, Tom has to factor in that he only drinks a few cocktails each day. Does having a “free” drink package make him drink more? Perhaps. It would be hard to resist for any cruise passenger. Tom’s fun when he drinks, never sloppy, never drunk or embarrassing, so I don’t mind a bit.

As it turns out, based on Tom’s calculations, it made sense to upgrade to the concierge class for the cruise described here today, as opposed to the cruise info we posted yesterday where it made no sense financially, although we did book a good balcony cabin in a good location at an increased price.

Below are the many features of the Celebrity Solstice, the ship for both of these two recently booked cruises: 

 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2008
Tonnage 122,000 tons
Registry Malta
Length 1,033 feet
Beam 121 feet
Passenger Capacity 2,850
Crew Size 999
Total Inside Cabins 102
Total Outside Cabins 1,323
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 1,177
Suites 56
Maximum Occupancy per room 5
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Dining Hours 6:15 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Recommended? Yes
Tipping Guidelines Added to onboard account. $12.00 per person, per day in staterooms, $12.50 per person, per day for Concierge/Aqua class, $15.50 per person, per day for Suites. 15% tip included on beverage orders.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges 14
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino Yes
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing Yes
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub 10
Cell Phone Service Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available in certain areas
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre Yes
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings Yes
Self Serve Laundromats No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court Yes
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool 3
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting Yes
Children’s Playroom Yes
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program Yes
Teen Center Yes
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins

Soon, we’ll figure out where to live in the South Pacific during this gap in time. While living in Kauai, we’ll continue the process of figuring out where we’ll spend this period of time. The options are many based on our location at the time.

Our total cost for this cruise is $4820 which includes all taxes, gratuities, and subsequent credits. On top of this expense is the cost for the “bill” we receive at the end of the cruise including (if no drink package); alcoholic and other beverages, bottled water (tea and coffee are free),  the ship’s WiFi fees (cost per minute), purchases in the shops, visits to the doctor and cost for spa services or any other services not included in the fare.

Here’s the cruise information for this later cruise on the same ship, the Celebrity Solstice, three and a half months after the cruise we listed yesterday. We continue to book all of our cruises with vacationstogo.com:

12 nights departing March 1, 2017 on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice
Brochure Inside $3,398
Our Inside $1,699
You Save 50%
Brochure Oceanview $3,798
Our Oceanview $1,824
You Save 52%
Brochure Balcony $4,098
Our Balcony $1,949
You Save 52%
Brochure Suite $6,098
Our Suite $3,049
You Save 50%
$$$ Book select oceanview and balcony categories, and choose one of the following offers: a $300 per cabin onboard credit, FREE pre-paid gratuities (a per cabin value of $288), or a FREE beverage package for two, which includes select alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages onboard (a per cabin value of $1,176). Book select suite categories, and receive all 3 offers:  a $300 per cabin onboard credit plus the pre-paid gratuities (a per cabin value of $372) and beverage packages listed above.
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
Important Note: Visas are required for this itinerary.
Wed Mar 1 Sydney, Australia 6:30pm
Thu Mar 2 At Sea
Fri Mar 3 At Sea
Sat Mar 4 Noumea, New Caledonia 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun Mar 5 Lifou, New Caledonia 8:00am 5:00pm
Mon Mar 6 Mystery Island, Vanuatu 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Mar 7 At Sea
Wed Mar 8 Suva, Fiji 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Mar 9 Lautoka, Fiji 7:00am 4:00pm
Fri Mar 10 At Sea
Sat Mar 11 At Sea
Sun Mar 12 At Sea
Mon Mar 13 Sydney, Australia 6:30am

Considering all of the above, our usual bill at the end of each cruise for 14 days, runs around $1100, most of which is for WiFi. Also, we always have XcomGlobal’s MiFi with us when cruising, at an additional cost of about $400 per month with a limited amount of data per day only working on the days we’re in port. 

Out to sea, we have no option but to use the ship’s Internet which is expensive and unreliable. I’m a cheap date on a cruise and Tom doesn’t charge more than his drinks. My drinks are all free when I only drink iced tea and coffee and the ship’s reverse osmosis purified water. I don’t care for massages or spa services and I rarely buy anything in the various overpriced shops. I do use a fair amount of WiFi when writing our posts each day but then again so does Tom, helping with research and entertaining himself while I work on the photos and stories to post.

We won’t book any additional cruises until after we purchase more “deposit vouchers” onboard our next cruise this upcoming May enabling us to pay only $100 per person deposit as opposed to $450 per person deposit. To purchase these, we don’t have to have a specific cruise in mind and these vouchers have no end date.

Yesterday, we’d mentioned listing our five booked future cruises, costs, dates, etc. However, as long as today’s post proved to be, we’ll wait and post these tomorrow. We apologize for changing this plan last minute. 

Have a restful Sunday!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 11, 2014:

One year ago we posted this photo we took from the veranda in Marloth Park. Oh, how we loved the visits from the gentle friendly zebra often arriving in all-male herds. For a funny zebra video and more, please click here.