Trek Of The CENTURY, Part One

When the 71,995 gross ton, 1,814 passenger CENTURY debuted in 1995, the cutting edge vessel had so many advanced features, she was nicknamed the “cyber ship”. Although she is now the line’s smallest (excluding the mega yacht CELEBRITY EXPEDITION) and oldest vessel, the CELEBRITY CENTURY still has an abundance of charm. Join Peter Knego on Celebrity Cruises recently refurbished “mid-sized classic” for a seven night Hubbard Glacier cruise from Vancouver.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Seven Sisters.
Columbia River.
Mt. St. Helens.

As anyone who follows these blogs might know, I’m not a fan of flying, but the short jaunt from LAX to Vancouver is a notable exception. Northbound, if one sits on the port side of the plane, there is a view of some of the Northwest’s most imposing volcanoes, from the Seven Sisters to Mt. Hood and the eerily spectacular remains of Mt. St. Helens. All that and a river runs through it!

Celebrity Cruises website

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011 unless otherwise noted. Please click on image to view a larger version.

EMPRESS OF JAPAN bowsprit replicus.

Vancouver is at the top of my short list of favorite cities. Aside from its unparalleled natural beauty, modern architecture and cosmopolitan cuisine, it is one of the friendliest places on earth. After a thirty minute cab ride from the airport to the Empire Landmark Hotel, we jettisoned our luggage and headed down Robson Street for a delicious lunch at the Gyoza King. From there, it was off to Stanley Park for a romp along the shore on a brilliant, warm afternoon. We watched two cruise ships sail past the EMPRESS OF JAPAN landing, which features a replica bowsprit from Canadian Pacific’s 1891-built liner.

Gull on Girl.

We weren’t the only ones to alight upon Vancouver’s version of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid, the bronze Girl In Wetsuit sculpture by Erik Imredy that was installed in 1972. After a walk back through the inner portion of the park, we had a quick dinner in West Vancouver, then hit the sack for our early morning rendezvous with the CELEBRITY CENTURY.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CELEBRITY CENTURY at Canada Place.

We arrived at Canada Place with enough time to circle the outer portion of the terminal for some photos of the ship. This was my first sighting of the CELEBRITY CENTURY since the addition of 314 balconies during her refit at Fincantieri’s Palermo yard in 2006. Although they have not done much for her sleek, edgy silhouette, balconies are a prime reason she has outlasted her near sisters GALAXY and MERCURY, which are now part of the German-based TUI Cruises fleet.

Finned "X".

In addition to the balconies, a number of other changes were made in the 2006 transition from CENTURY to CELEBRITY CENTURY. More suites and cabins were added, public rooms were upgraded and restyled and a Murano specialty dining room was installed. Despite rumors to the contrary, CELEBRITY CENTURY will remain with the fleet until at least 2013, according to Celebrity’s CEO, Dan Hanrahan. There is still time to enjoy the ship as she heads to the South Pacific this winter and returns to Alaska in 2012.

Island Cafe corner.

Celebrity has a user-friendly policy of welcoming its embarking passengers aboard early in the day so they can relax in the ship’s public areas while their cabins are prepared. I had been coveting a freshly-prepared Celebrity salad since last month’s whirlwind trek on board the brand new, mega-spectacular CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE, so one of our first stops was the Islands Cafe on Deck 12.

Salad selections.

Celebrity has some of the best and most varied buffet offerings at sea.

Salad Bar Selections.

At the end of a counter of fresh veggies, legumes and other salad toppings, there are tall, slender bottles of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine vinegar in addition to ready-made dressings.

Parmesan paradise.

After building a verdant volcano of salad, I doused it in a pyroclastic flow of freshly grated parmesan from the neighboring pasta bar.

Concierge Class Suite 9043, facing inboard.

After some preliminary documenting (stay tuned for a full top to bottom Decked!), our cabin, a Concierge Class Suite on the port side of forward Deck 9, was ready. The interior measures 172 square feet and has an additional 42 square foot balcony. The hardware includes two twins or queen bedding, a writing desk with drawers, chair, unfolding settee with a third berth, three tall closets, a mini-bar and over the bed storage cabinets, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors; flatscreen television.

Concierge Class Suite 9043, facing port.

Warm wood tones and a palate of maroon, orange and beige give the space a homey, welcoming feel. Concierge Class perks and amenities include early embarkation/disembarkation; priority check-in; sparkling wine, fresh fruit and flowers; an expanded room service breakfast menu; daily canapes; a pillow menu; 100% Egyptian cotton bath robes; shoeshine service; use of binoculars and umbrella; and main and specialty restaurant seating preferences.

Suite 9043 bathroom.

Bathrooms feature extra hand held hairdryers, plenty of amenity storage, shower with Hansgrohe massaging head, plush Egyptian Cotton towels.

Celebrity amenities.

Celebrity’s excellent Hydro Minerale toiletries (shampoo, moisturizer, conditioner, bath gel) are provided.

Cova Cafe, facing aft.
Cova cappuccinos.

After we unpacked and attended the boat drill in the Celebrity Theater, there was just enough time for a quick cappuccino ($4.00) in the Cova Cafe overlooking the deck 6 level of the Grand Lobby.

ZAAN-ada Place.

By the time we reached the observation platform on Deck 15, the CELEBRITY CENTURY had left Canada Place behind and was approaching Brockton Point Lighthouse in the narrows off Stanley Park.

Lion's Gate approach.

The green Lion’s Gate suspension bridge was the portal to our passage into the Strait of Georgia.

Lion's Gate above.

The approaching CELEBRITY CENTURY looked as though she might scrape the underbelly of the Lion’s Gate.

Hemispheric corner.

With our second seating dinner at 8:30, there was time to explore our home for the next seven days. All Celebrity ships feature spectacular observation lounges and the CENTURY Hemispheres is no exception. The room has a spiral floor plan inspired by the Fibonacci sequence.

Balcony in the Sound.

For the remainder of the evening, the CELEBRITY CENTURY glided through the sheltered sound between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland.

Grand Dining descent.

The CENTURY’s double deck Grand Dining Room lives up to its name with a sweeping staircase, deco-inspired brass balustrades and pillars and a wall of glass overlooking the ship’s wake.

Leafy Lalique.

At the base of the Grand Dining Room’s descent, a crystal Lalique table awaits. Hovering directly above, there is a layer cake Art Deco ceiling fixture.

Imade and Adrian.

We were assigned 543, a table for two a few steps away from the staircase on the starboard side of Deck 5. Our dining steward Imade (Bali) and his assistant Adrian (Romania) instantly greeted us.

Oil spill splendor.

Cruets of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar were quickly dispatched to our table and would remain there throughout the week.

Unbeetable.

Course by delicious course ensued. On the left side of the menu are Executive Chef Jacques Van Staden’s “Classic Dinner Favorites” with a selection of “anytime” soups, salads, sides, entrees and desserts. Tonight, I would order from the right side of the menu, beginning with Tender Roasted Red Beets with feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and sherry vinaigrette.

Art of the tart.

Next, a Baked Farm Goat Cheese Tart with roasted red peppers and balsamic syrup.

Grand gazpacho.

And then, a Chilled Gazpacho Andalouse with parmesan croutons.

Cup-sized NORMANDIE.

My companion Rob ordered the Wild Forest Mushroom Cappuccino from the CELEBRITY SUMMIT’s Normandie Specialty Restaurant. The SUMMIT has panels from the 1934-built French liner NORMANDIE on display in its specialty restaurant.

Spanish fish.

My main course was a delicious Herb Crusted Merluzza in a bed of tomato rice timbale, roasted zucchini and ratatouile vinaigrette.

Rum raisin.

We each capped off our first dinner with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream. Celebrity’s ice cream is among the best I’ve had at sea.

Tapas in Cova.

A live musician plays in the Cova Cafe throughout the evening. In addition to coffees and drinks for purchase, at various times of day, there are complimentary tapas, pastries and cookies.

Luminous lido.

We took a stroll in the moderately cool breeze up on deck as CELEBRITY CENTURY made her way toward Queen Charlotte Sound.

Twin piques.

Our first day on the CELEBRITY CENTURY was nearing its end. Lights out!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spa Breakfast stacks.

At 10:30 AM, a gentle voice on the phone alerted us that our breakfast order was on its way. Moments later, with a tap on the door, it had arrived. Celebrity’s regular room service breakfast menu is more than adequate but its Concierge Breakfast menu has a few extra goodies like freshly-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, a selection of “Signature” dishes that includes Granola Berry Parfait, French Toast Fingers, Baked Bananas, Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Asparagus Spears, Mixed Fruit Smoothies, several types of omeletes (that can be prepared with egg beaters or only egg whites) and much more. We ate with abandon.

Lunch salad.

Open seating lunch was served in the Grand Dining Room Noon until 1:30 PM. We were seated with a friendly, well-traveled couple from St. Louis, who were enjoying their first cruise.

Soaking up the sun in the Sound.

Up on deck, it was sunny and relatively warm with a following wind.

Cheese and wine extravaganza.

A Wine Tasting followed lunch. Although we did not partake, we would order a lovely Wente Cabernet to accompany the formal night dinner.

Palate whetting and cleansing...

Another culinary journey awaited us in the Grand Dining Room that evening.

Reflections in the rafters.

After dinner, we headed to the double deck Celebrity Showroom, with its unencumbered sightlines and huge, semi-circular stage.

CELEBRITY CENTURY officers lined up.

Captain Kostas Patsoulas and the CELEBRITY CENTURY’s senior officers took the stage in the Celebrity Showroom to welcome everyone with a toast.

"Songs Of The World"

The first of the week’s three full scale shows followed. Entitled, “Dance Around The World”, it featured traditional folk dances and nationalistic tunes performed by the ship’s large cast.

End of First Post. Much more to come…

Very special thanks: Dayna Adelman, Martin Cox, Elizabeth Jakeway, Tavia Robb

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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