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Cruising Alaska:
Celebrity Infinity ("Ultimate Alaska" 11-Night)

by Murray Lundberg

The Celebrity Millennium at Hubbard Glacier, Alaska     This photo album and review is from a cruise that I took on the Celebrity Infinity, one of Celebrity's 4 Millennium class ships. This was a repositioning cruise, moving the infinity from her Mexican itineraries to Alaskan ones. We sailed from San Francisco, California to Vancouver, British Columbia, leaving San Francisco on May 10th, 2010, and docking at Vancouver on the 21st after visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Hubbard Glacier, Sitka and Victoria. The photo to the right shows her sister ship Millennium at Hubbard Glacier.

    A small part of what you read here is not typical of an Alaska cruise that you might go on, as I was working on the ship as the Destination Speaker, but the majority of my experience was the same as that of regular passengers. We were really excited about this cruise. Celebrity was the first cruise line I'd worked for that takes speakers seriously, and the Infinity is always near the top of any list of Best Large Cruise Ships in the World. As a bonus, Cathy had never seen San Francisco, so we had an extra day there.

    The Celebrity Infinity, which entered service in March 2001, is 964.5 feet long, has a beam of 105.6 feet and is rated at 90,228 tons. She has a passenger capacity of 1,950, with 999 crew members. There are 11 public decks, and of the 975 cabins, 590 have private balconies.

    After editing, I have 1,396 photos in my trip file, about have shot with a Canon Digital Rebel XSi and the other half with a Fujifilm S1800 - 125 of them have been posted in this journal.

    Whitehorse to San Francisco
    Exploring San Francisco
    Cruise Days 1, 2 & 3: Sailaway and At Sea
    Cruise Day 4: Ketchikan
    Cruise Day 5: Juneau
    Cruise Day 6: Skagway
    Cruise Day 7: Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)
    Cruise Day 8: Hubbard Glacier
    Cruise Day 9: Sitka
    Cruise Days 10 & 11 At Sea & Victoria
    Cruise Day 12: Vancouver to Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

My job on the ship involved doing five 45-minute presentations during our 11-night cruise. Those Powerpoint presentations are done in the 1,000-seat main theatre, which is in itself pretty cool.

Here's a screenshot from one my programs - the other programs are Glaciers of Alaska, Native Cultures of Alaska, The Gold Rush Trail (from California to Alaska), and Brown Bears (Grizzlies) of Alaska.

Saturday, May 8: leaving Whitehorse, with the Yukon River visible below. We took the Air Canada flight (on points) at 06:55 and it was only half full, so after taking this shot I moved to the non-sun side of the plane for beter photography. Cathy moved to the very back of the plane to get away from a very loud and obnoxious non-stop talker behind me - unfortunately the woman across the aisle was encouraging the inconsiderate jerk.

Luckily when the weather is like this I "zone out" on what's inside the plane (although the dirty diaper smell was tough to ignore). Anyway, this is Carcross and Lake Bennett below us.

It had been many, many years since I'd seen Mount Logan (Canada's highest peak) and Mount St. Elias (Canada's 2nd highest) from one of these flights - what a thrill! In about a week, our cruise ship will be almost at the foot of Mount St. Elias when we visit Hubbard Glacier.

The Juneau Icefield, with the Llewellyn Glacier and partially-frozen Atlin Lake at the bottom.

Crossing over the Bulkley Valley.

A classic glacier in the northern part of Tweedsmuir Park.

On the shore in the distance is the town of Powell River.

The Vancouver International Airport, YVR, has grown into a particularly fine airport - a beautiful location with architecture that takes advantage of the views.

The lumber industry looked and smelled like it was in good shape despite what I hear on the news - there are a lot of small mills operating along the lower Fraser River.

We had time to kill so rented a car and went for breakfast at Denny's and then out to Steveston. We had actually rented a Mustang from Budget (for $29!) but the lineup was so long I went over the the empty National counter and rented a basic car there for a few bucks more and were on our way. This is the historic Gulf of Georgia cannery.

It was very odd to find YVR so empty!

After clear skies much of the way on our United Airlines flight, this is the descent into San Francisco. We flew directly over the Golden Gate Bridge so didn't get to see it.

We got a great rate on a first-class seat, our first non-cattle-class seat ever - now I see why people do this! The always-full glass of Round Top Chardonnay, with excellent '60s music on the Sirius XM made it a particularly nice experience, quite a change from the Whitehorse-Vancouver leg!

"Shared-ride" shuttles are the cheap way to get downtown from SFO - this SuperShuttle van cost us $17 each.

We got upgraded at the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square - this is our room, #1713. I almost wish that we'd chosen to come a day earlier!

The Westin St. Francis Hotel, from Union Square. Union Square is the centre of a high-end shopping mecca, surrounded by Saks Fifth Avenue, Niemann Marcus, Victoria's Secret, Macy's and many other shops.

Looking down the hotel atrium from the 17 floor.

To Exploring San Francisco