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Thread: cruise gurus: celebrity vs. holland america

  1. #31

    Smile How was the cruise

    I am planning our first cruise...hubby C4-C5 power chair user and we are thinking of Alaska.
    We are leaning toward Celebrity and Holland based on previous threads here at CC...
    Looking at Celebrity Solstice and HAL Westerdam

    Just curious..how was your cruise Scott did you like Celebrity..was the dress casual or formal...
    Was it families,seniors or a wonderfully diverse group of people?

    I have read all the threads...just wondering if anyone has any additional input..recent experiences?

    As always thanks for the input

  2. #32
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
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    Aspen, don't have input yet, but we are taking the HAL Westerdam to Alaska the 1st week of September, for our 20th anniversary.

    The sq ft of cabins seem to be bigger on HAL, but the dress is more formal, a downside in my mind.

    I was surprised, I only started looking/thinking in late May, there were accessible cabins available from early Aug and on, maybe Alaska isn't as popular with PWD's. Like Scott I wanted a pimp cabin, so late Aug was the first available, and switching to 1st of Sept saved $700. Taking more of a chance on weather but not by much after checking the averages for Alaska.

    I explored shore excursions myself so I could talk to owner/operators. Found a great accessible whale watching tour out of Juneau, and a non accessible but willing to work with me, seaplane glacier viewing trip out of Ketchikan, they are going to hoist my butt up into the plane somehow, yeehah. Sitka is a tender port so have not booked anything yet, unsure of tendering even though I'm in a manual chair, the weather can make it or break it. As you look thru the lit for shore excursions, you will see that not many are wheelchair accessible, that is one reason I went for a big cabin on the stern of the ship with huge deck, have some quality viewing time the whole week.

    It will be 105 here in Tx at that time, so I'm looking forward to Seattle and Alaska.
    "a T10, who'd Rather be ridin'; than rollin'"

  3. #33
    HAL is generally a little older crowd (they don't have much in the way of programs for children, etc.). I think the food is better on HAL, and they give you free popcorn in their movie theater. Have had better accessible cabins on Celebrity, which groups its accessible cabins together along a wider hallway, but it varies. Our last Celebrity trip we had poor service in the dining room.

    HAL has tender lifts on some of their ships, which is a plus for getting ashore. We have been to Sitka, and were able to get a wheelchair accessible (van with lift) tour there...but that was about 10 years ago. If you can go there, really recommend the Archangel Dancers, the old Russian Cathedral, the Native American Art center, and the Raptor Rehabilitation Center. The small town is pretty accessible, and you can walk around (including most of these sites) with a wheelchair from the tender pier without even taking a tour. Tickets to the Archangel Dancers may be an issue if you are not on a tour though.

    We also had a lift-equipped private tour in Juneau. We went to the Mendenhall glacier (nice accessible visitors center), the Alaska State Museum, a salmon hatchery, and a native plant botanical garden. I understand the cable car in Juneau is technically accessible, but difficult to see out the windows if seated in a chair.

    If you go to Skagway too, be sure to take the Whitehorse Train trip (we did the half day one). They have one car that is lift equipped (even an accessible bathroom) and if you book from the ship, they pick you up right on the pier. A few of the shuttles into town here are accessible too, otherwise it is about a 3/4 of a mile push into town.

    (KLD)

  4. #34
    Great Info...Thanks you guys...
    McDuff...I am going to remind you in September to tell us all about your cruise experience...we will celebrating our 25 wedding anniversary!

  5. #35
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
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    Thanks KLD, that is some good info, especially about Sitka, gives us some good options. We do not hit Skagway on our run, there are only 4 ports besides Seattle which we leave and return to, Victoria BC is the other one, but there doesn't seem to be much there.

    Aspen, I usually do a good, pic heavy, report on our adventures, haven't done anything in awhile so I will try and do a good one. Happy 25th!
    "a T10, who'd Rather be ridin'; than rollin'"

  6. #36
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    We were diehard Celebrity cruisers until we hit their top tier for bennies just as they said NO wheelchairs on tenders unless you can walk onto the tender. If you can't take the steps down and in forget them. On our bucket list cruise of Alaska we took HAL for the first time. Loved the Neptune Lounge on the penthouse deck but did not like the bathroom access. We'd take the old Amsterdam again but ask them to remove the door to the bath. There is a curtain between the cabin and the dressing area before the bath. I really was not going to miss Sitka or Kodiak because of some stupid policy. HAL puts people in manual chairs in the tenders after they bring it up over the davits and then lowers it to the normal tender deck to pick up the ABs. We took a whale watching tour with Captain...somebody in Juneau and loved it. Everything was accessible. We signed up for a ship shore excursion in Sitka that did much of the same solely to guarentee I'd get off the boat! LOL No, I do not trust any the first time through. We even got off in Homer and could have skipped it because everything is on stilts so access is pretty slim. HAL does cater to an older group and it shows in their food. Looks great but it all seems rather bland. And the nightlife ends by midnight and that is the party crowd. For powerchair tender access you'd have to call the HAL special needs department. There is no way we could have gotten my powerchair in that bathroom. Why do they put a bathtub in a wheelchair accessible bathroom? But honestly, you can really enjoy Alaska even if you didn't get off most the ships. Do buy a good set of binoculars and bring a camera. We went on a 14 day round trip out of Seattle May 27, 2011 and had a few raindrops reboarding in Kodiak but otherwise no rain and it was 80 degrees in Juneau. Very few kids if you get the last cruise leaving in May. After that school lets out and it rains a lot more. Celebrity is a younger crowd, better food, more nightlife but you will not be tendering. And at least the last few years they only do a 7 day cruise so you pay extra for open jaw plane tickets.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

  7. #37
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    As far as more formal goes? Both are basically the same for formal nights. Alaska the passengers, it seems, loosen up the dress code in favor of the weather gear needed. I got a lot of wear out of an LL Bean cotton almost white sweater that went with almost everything I brought and could be layered over a polo or long sleeve T. Found 2 pairs of slacks that were jeans warm but dressier looking so I didn't need to change pants for dinner. And yes, I have and did wear my best newest jeans in a very dark blue into both lines dining rooms. No holes, no frayed hems, clean and dressed up with scarf and jewelry on days that we were in ports into the time for early dinner. We choice late or we would have missed stuff. Also did a buffet from the Neptune Lounge in our suite one night since the sun didn't set until about midnight so we snacked and watched the dolphins, killer whales and eagles. Yes, we will probably take an Alaskan cruise again and mainly stay on ship and drink spiked hot chocolate.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

  8. #38

    Hey McDuff

    As promised...I am checking in with you to see how that cruise to Alaska went...
    Do you have any info to share?
    I am hoping it was an awesome anniversary celebration for you!

  9. #39
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
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    Hi Aspen,

    Yup, keep me honest.

    I haven't written up my log yet, amazing the things that go awry when you are gone for 2 weeks, been doing catch up. I will do it in the next few days.

    And yes we had a blast.
    "a T10, who'd Rather be ridin'; than rollin'"

  10. #40
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    I want to hear about the ship, McDuff! We are planning the future once the old place sells and based on tendering and other stuff we can see the good in both Celebrity and HAL. I also want to check out the tendering policy on Azamara. We were on their first season repositioning after Bermuda and loved it! Their balcony cabins are wonderful and have some real thought put into them. Rather amazing access except the pool for ships that have 700 passengers. But we also have an Amtrak trip to Seattle out of Chicago and return on our list. We can catch the train at Columbus, WI and safely leave the van there. No shower but we plan on a few days in Seattle and maybe at Glacier National Park because they have a stop right there.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

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