Celebrity Cruises Inaugural 2021 Alaska Cruise Aboard the Celebrity Millennium | To travel
Kirsten Andresen, Founder of KAPR + Social Media + Storytelling, has been invited by Celebrity Cruises to sail to Alaska aboard her newly refurbished ship Celebrity Millennium. The Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier Cruise’s seven-night itinerary explores the Alaska Inside Passage – a network of waterways that meander through some of the most breathtaking wilderness on the planet – and truly showcases the renowned beauty of the last frontier. On this voyage, the Millennium was also the first cruise ship to enter Skagway Harbor in almost two years.
The remaining cruises in 2021 will take place in early October and Celebrity Cruises has just announced its 2022 schedule: Alaska Cruise 2022: Best 2022 Alaska Cruises | Celebrity cruises. It’s never too early to book an Alaska cruise for next summer – and it might not even be too late to get on board this fall.
How did you get there?
We are fortunate to live with easy access to one of Alaska’s major cruise gates. After a quick ride to the Bell Street Pier cruise terminal at Pier 66 on the Seattle waterfront, I made my way through the terminal, greeted and directed around every turn, and boarded the Celebrity Millennium. My home for the next seven nights was a beautifully appointed cabin in the Aqua class of the ship, with a double bed, sitting area, study / toilet area, private bathroom and veranda. This room category also includes Celebrity branded bathrobes, slippers, lip balm, and sheet masks and is located near the spa. After scouring the ship to orient myself, I joined my group for an outdoor Sail Away party. With the Seattle skyline in the background, we pushed and were on our way to Alaska!
Tell us about your first stop.
After a full day at sea, we arrived in Ketchikan, nestled at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famous Inside Passage. Home to misty fjords, incredible wildlife viewing and a rich Native American culture, Ketchikan has the largest collection of totem poles in the world. On display throughout downtown, some of the oldest are listed on the National Historic Register and carefully preserved for viewing at the Totem Heritage Center. My first shore excursion took me on a hike through the Alaskan Rainforest Sanctuary in search of wildlife. Eventually I stood a few feet from an American bald eagle (now living in captivity due to a hole in its wing) at the Alaska Raptor Center. For a glimpse into Ketchikan’s more turbulent past, visit Dolly’s House Museum on historic Creek Street, a boardwalk perched on wooden stilts on the shores of Ketchikan Creek and home to the city’s former red light district.
What was the highlight of the trip?
There were so many. Sailing around the harbor in the middle of the morning with the sun shooting out of the water and hitting the jagged mountains, I immediately fell in love with Juneau. As the only landlocked American capital, it is only accessible by water or air. After sprinting out of the ship with two traveling companions to be among the first to reach Tracy’s King Crab Shack, we enjoyed a 3 pound bucket of crab legs known as “the best legs in town”. A quick cab ride took me to the must-see Mendenhall Glacier. Starting at the Visitor Center, which had various glaciology exhibits and an observatory with telescopes, I quickly made my way to Nugget Falls on an easy two-mile walking trail. Standing so close to the mist of these magnificent falls was invigorating!
If other Eastsiders leave, what should they include in their itinerary (on land)?
Enjoy the shops and local attractions of Skagway. Once the heart of the Gold Rush, a popular celebrity shore excursion allowed passengers to explore the Yukon on the White Pass Railway. The town itself is also the perfect place to stretch your feet and find local gifts. Stop by Klondike Doughboy for freshly baked Alaskan Fried Bread, find this year’s Christmas ornament at the Alaska Christmas Shop, have lunch at the legendary former brothel at the Red Onion Saloon, and visit the works of Alaskan art featuring original paintings, jewelry, and crafts by Alaskan artists, including authentic dream catchers made in Anchor Point, AK.
What should they include in their itinerary at sea?
With two full days at sea upon your return to Seattle, don’t miss the opportunity to visit The Spa on of the millennium 10th floor. Grab a green smoothie at the Spa Café and book a massage, facial or body scrub performed by expert level practitioners. Arrive at your meeting 30 minutes early to enjoy the Persian Garden, a collection of saunas, steam rooms, and energy rooms. Whip up an appetite, because Celebrity Cruises is also renowned for its next-level cuisine. From the Sushi on Five specialty restaurants to the Petit Chef – an interactive and planned dining experience that will blow your mind – to the Oceanview Café buffet, dining on board the Millennium was incredible.
What surprised you the most about your Alaska cruise?
How much I enjoyed the cruise experience! I hadn’t been on a cruise ship in over 20 years and never considered myself to be the cruising type. However, I had heard from many trusted friends that an Alaska cruise was one of the best ways to explore a good part of our larger state, especially for first-timers. Considering the great distances between the cities visited, there is simply no other way to see everything we saw in the time frame we saw it. Just thinking about the “trains, planes and automobiles” that would have been involved in planning this trip is exhausting. Hopping into our little floating town for the week and arriving at a different port each morning was so much more relaxing.
During these times, did you feel safe on board the ship?
Yes, I felt safe on the ship. Along with knowing that all Celebrity Cruises crew and guests ages 12 and up were vaccinated, I was impressed with the rigorous cleaning and security protocols I observed. Considering the time of year (I traveled in late July), it was nice to be able to take advantage of the ship’s many open decks and airy spaces. The fact that the Millennium sailed at 60% capacity on this inaugural Alaska cruise, made natural social distancing very easy. I typically stayed in my travel capsule and often wore a mask indoors, as well as at all ports and on shore excursions as per the Alaska state mandate at the time.
What have you learned about yourself and the people you have met?
How much I missed traveling and meeting other people throughout the trip! I have met so many amazing people from all over the country who were all there to assuage their adventurous spirit and soak up the natural beauty of Alaska. From a world-famous Los Angeles tattoo artist celebrating a birthday and several large families celebrating being together again, meeting other newbies like me. An Alaska cruise is truly a once in a lifetime experience and we all knew how lucky we were to be there.