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She Cruises to Alaska With Celebrity


Fine facilities and super staff...

How best to describe the Infinity? Think floating hotel combined with a luxurious spa, cinema, swimming pool, gym, golf school, late-night disco, cyber cafe and hair salon. Now add a martini bar, yoga studio, lecture hall, cooking class, lecture hall, shopping mall, running track, art auction house, portrait studio, a full casino and much, much more. That should give you an idea of the scope of facilities and activities available to the ship's passengers. You can be as busy or as lazy as you like. Our best relaxation was sitting outside on a quiet deck, reading, chatting and enjoying the Alaskan wilderness.

The Infinity has eleven decks, ten elevators, a guest capacity of almost 2,000 with a crew count of 999. In the halls, at activities and in the cafes, that efficient staff went out of their way to make us smile. One delightful young waitress told us that because she's not a morning person she gets up twenty minutes early to watch cartoons. Then, by the time she's ready to serve breakfast she's right 'in the groove.'

There are over 1000 staterooms and each is assigned an attendant that truly coddles his passengers. Need an extra blanket for your bed or an extra chaise for your verandah? He makes it happen, quickly. This fellow tidies your room, delivers the ship's messages and takes care of all your room service needs. No wonder Celebrity Cruise Line has earned the highest possible rating of six stars from 'Stern's Guide', the bible of the cruise industry.

Cruising highlights and ports of call...

The three Alaskan ports of call on this route are all small and remote. There's the sleepy town of Ketchican, Sitka with it's Russian roots, and Juneau, Alaska's first truly American city. There are no roads leading into or out of each of them. You arrive either by boat, by float plane or by virtue of being born there. Each harbour has a long main shopping street that caters to tourists looking for trinkets for the folks back home. However, look further than the many jewelry stores and tee-shirt merchants and you'll find true magic -- the wonderful collection of totem poles, fish canneries and wildlife sanctuaries, the history of the American Gold Rush, colorful native carvings, the Red Dog Saloon, fabulous fish fries and of course, countless photo opportunities.

However, for my pals and I, the star tourist attractions in Alaska were the warm, welcoming, quirky residents, the magnificent scenery and the authentic wildlife. It's here that the salmon come to spawn leaping high out of the rivers and creeks as they make their way back home. With the salmon run come the brown grizzly bears feasting on the fish at river's edge. Alaska is where humpback whales cavort, the harbour seals laze, and the mighty bald eagle builds nests that can be up to six feet across. June in Alaska means sunsets that arrive very late at night producing a dazzling kaleidoscope of splendid, rich color. The air is fresh and invigorating, mountains are high, waterfalls are many, and lakes are deep emerald green.

And then there are Alaska's glaciers -- massive, magnificent ancient walls of ice. As part of their regular itinerary, the Infinity spent three hours in and around Hubbard Glacier. The face of that well-know ice wall is over 300 feet high, and as we watched, enormous chunks of ice broke away (in a process called calving) and crashed with a mighty roar into the surrounding water. That's how icebergs are formed and we, lucky people, were able to see it happening. Fabulous!

Food, glorious food...

For every woman who has stood over a hot stove wishing she had someone to prepare lovely meals for her, ladies, your time has come! Celebrity is known for its fine food service and its variety of entree choices is seemingly endless. Would you like one or two decadent desserts? The choice is all yours. Perhaps that's why there were so many people in the gym and on the running track early in the morning.

You don't want to sit down to three formal meals a day? You'd rather graze? There are alternate food stations set up throughout the ship. Around the corner on Deck 10 is a Waffle and Pancake Station. You might choose the AquaSpa Cafe for low fat dining or the Sushi Cafe's California Rolls in late afternoon. There's a salad bar, an all-you-can eat ice cream station and even a dinner buffet for all the Journeykiddies. Believe it. Even the fussiest eaters will find the tastes and calorie counts they yearn for.

Friends, glorious friends...

The best socializing on the ship takes place at meal time. We three pals favoured the formal dining room and were happy to meet the five other passengers who would share our table each evening. Kate, the feisty eighty-something matriarch and her two delightful daughters, Winona and Mardeena travelled all the way from sunny California. Nancy and John were the married, athletic component of the group and hailed from Virginia. John was the sole guy at our table of seven women. He fit in perfectly.

Each evening one of our cruise mates suggested a topic for discussion and there was never a dull moment as we shared our thoughts and dreams over sophisticated food and wine. We laughed a lot, discussed our daily adventures, gossiped, and enjoyed the antics of our delightful Turkish waiter, Tarik. At the close of the cruise we, seven women, presented John with the 'Best Man at the Table Award'. I think he was really pleased.

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