The Celebrity Century in Alaska // © 2013 Peter Knego
When Celebrity Cruises’ Century debuted in 1995, the ship’s advanced computer technology, soaring public spaces and elegant decor earned it the nickname the Cyber Ship and set new standards for premium-class cruising. In 2006, it was renamed Celebrity Century and freshened with a multimillion-dollar refit, which included 314 balconies, new decor and a specialty dining room.
During my seven-night Alaska sailing from Vancouver, I found the 1,814-passenger ship immaculately maintained. Public areas are located toward the top (open decks, pools, lido, sports court, observation lounge, spa) and bottom (show room, bars, library, meeting rooms, cabaret lounge, restaurant, cafe, shops), with most of the accommodations sandwiched in between.
Thirteen cabin categories range from the 1,101-square-foot Penthouse Suites to 174-square-foot inside cabins. Our Concierge Class Stateroom measured 172 square feet (with an additional 42-square-foot balcony) and offered perks and amenities including early check-in/embarkation/disembarkation, sparkling wine, fresh fruit and flowers, daily canapes, a pillow menu, use of binoculars and an umbrella and specialty restaurant seating preferences.
The double-deck Grand Dining Room certainly lives up to its name with a sweeping staircase and a wall of glass overlooking the ship’s wake. There is a choice between seatings at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Celebrity Select, in which guests dine when and with whom they choose between 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. The dining experience reaches an extremely high standard, both at dinner and at the open seating breakfast and lunch.
The Aqua Spa Cafe, added in the 2006 refit, offers health-conscious breakfast and lunch selections, while the Cova Cafe, overlooking the Grand Foyer, is the center for specialty coffees (charges apply) as well as complimentary tapas, cookies and pastries.
Murano is the ship’s French-influenced specialty restaurant with a four-course Gastronomic and Vineyard Tour pairing for $89 per person or a traditional menu with a cover charge of $40 per person. Selections range from foie gras, lobster bisque and filet mignon to chocolate souffle and a decadent crepe ballon rouge prepared tableside.
In addition to complimentary 24-hour room service, in-cabin dining is available during lunch and dinner hours with selections from the restaurant menu.
Main stage entertainment on our cruise included three Broadway-style productions in the Celebrity Theater plus a magician, a comedian and a passenger talent show. In the Crystal Room cabaret, nightly diversions ran the gamut from live music and trivia games to a chocolate extravaganza.
Among ports of call is Icy Strait Point, located 22 miles southeast of Glacier Bay National Park, which is a prime spot for viewing marine mammals, bears and eagles. Biking, fishing and Tlingit cultural tours are offered but the main attraction is the Ziprider, a 5,490-foot zipline that plunges riders from a 1,320-foot elevation in 90 seconds. In spectacular Yakutat Bay, the ship pivoted around the massive blue wall of Hubbard Glacier for views of dramatic ice calvings from its 200- to 400-foot-tall face. Juneau and Ketchikan were popular for shopping, flightseeing and whale-watching excursions.
Century’s 2013 season in Alaska features seven-night cruises out of Vancouver, with an 11-night Ultimate Alaska cruise on Sept. 15, calling in Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau, Tracy Arm, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert and Victoria.