All Aboard, onto Ketchikan!

This week the Willamette Intl Travel blog is following our agent Wailana as she sails on Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity up to Alaska. Read on for her day-to-day schedule, trip insights, and insider details. Today, we take a look at Seattle, the ship herself, and Ketchikan.

Friday, 31 August 2012 – Seattle, WA.

Embarkation Time: 2.30pm

I met my partner, Mister G, at Seattle’s train station and after an obligatory stop at Pike’s Place for Spanish cava and piroshky, we made our way down to Pier 66. It was the sunniest I’d ever seen Seattle.

To avoid the crowds, it’s best to board your ship 1-2 hours before departure. Boarding took 15 minutes tops, and that was without online check-in. we had both traveled all morning so it was a relief to reach our hotel room so quickly. we took advantage of the time to relax and settle in, and got to know our room and stateroom attendant. Around 3.30pm, the ship’s Master, Captain Michael Sympouras, welcomed us onboard.

We climbed up to the Oceanview Café for slow guitar and to watch the shore recede. We watched the swell below and the heaving waters, the sea breeze picking up and cooling our baking skin. The ship glided on; the Needle faded around the curves of Queen Anne Hill as we sailed toward the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

We tried out the main restaurant, Trellis, around 8.30 that evening. Even without a reservation (select seating), we were seated almost immediately.  Most two-seat tables are next to portholes—fortunate for us as there were clear skies and we arrived just before sunset. Dinner was delicious—guacamole shrimp, strips of ahi tuna, herb-crusted haddock, and beef spring rolls.

After dinner, it was on to the theater for a preview of the week’s entertainment: musicians, comedians, dancers, and the onboard acting company.

Saturday, 1 September 2012 – At Sea

We spent much of this day, our first full day onboard, exploring the restaurants, nooks, pools and cafés of the ship. After a brief galley tour led by the chefs of the specialty restaurant SS United States, we enjoyed crepes and ciders at Bistro on Five. Our waiter was highly informative, and obviously very proud of his fare. I had a caprese-inspired crepe and the mister a Greek chicken, and I for one had to finish with a cup of succulent, dark chocolate mousse.

Our afternoon explorations took the form of following various musicians around the ship. Each day they travel to a different venue—so we heard Kylle the folk guitarist in the Gelateria, 545 Express (the a cappella quartet) in Café al Bacio, and Rob Ondras the jazz singer in Michael’s Club. This was a great way to sample the food and drink at each place as well as hear some terrific, varied tunes.

Around 6.30pm we climbed back to the room to change into our evening attire. Dinner was a delight, waiters singing birthday harmonies and everyone dressed in formal wear. Our waiter Robert was congenial and hilarious; I think I won major points with him and the rest of the staff by being one of the few guests to order the breaded frog legs. Better than chicken, in my opinion.

The major highlight of the day was the Broadway-themed musical show. It was an hour and half of dance, acrobats, and fresh-faced renditions of Rogers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others. The dancers changed clothes so fast I could’ve sworn the costumes were all Velcro.

Sunday, 2 September 2012 – Ketchikan

Docking Time: 7.00 AM

The beauty of Ketchikan is in its mountains, harbor, and misted colors. Early morning is the ideal time to explore—crisp air, less tourists, and we lucked out in that it was sunny in this town that has 12.5 feet of rainfall a year.

Ketchikan has a very touristy downtown strip, the “Alii Drive” of Alaska for those familiar with Hawaii. A perfect location for outlet shopping enthusiasts—souvenirs, some kitschy, some practical. Only cash accepted at most retails and restaurants.

Celebrity is accommodating and hands out a coupon book for all the ports of call beforehand. We picked up some ulu knives for souvenirs. I confess when I heard “ulu” my mind went to the Hawaiian meaning—breadfruit—which I’m sure would make for a prickly knife if there ever was one! Also grabbed a few pashmina scarves, and merino wool socks. To an island girl, even 60 degrees is freezing! J

Lunch was fish and chips at the Alaska Fish House—pretty tasty fish and so-so chips; each table had malt vinegar to lick off of our fingers and a nice view of Thomas Basin Harbor. My boyfriend being a beer enthusiast, and a lover of Alaskan fare in general, we had to stop by the harbor’s token pub, the Arctic Bar & Liquor Store, “Home of the Happy Bears,” est. 1937. Their logo was of two bears being very happy together indeed.

We grabbed some espresso and headed past territorial ravens to the quieter inner town. There is a circling free shuttle for those who don’t care to walk. About 2/3 mile from the port, stands the Totem Heritage Center (and next to it, an eagle keep and fish hatchery). Nestled in a park heaving with thickening moss and streamlets, I would highly recommend the center to visitors. Several totems are housed inside—some are as old as the 19th century, some commissioned later as part of cultural conservation efforts. One of them was crowned with a menacing bear, snout raised and grimacing, claws bent. Collections of these towering totems, masks, photographs, baskets, knives, and small boats all help to paint a picture of the land back when it was known as Alakshaq. Definitely don’t miss this museum during your cruise!

Cast off time: 4.00 PM

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on Celebrity and other cruises. Join us on Wednesday to hear more about Wailana’s experiences onboard, or call WIT at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com to book a cruise today!

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Filed under Alaska, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship, USA, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

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