Trek Of The CENTURY, Part Three

Continue with Peter Knego aboard Celebrity Cruises recently refurbished CELEBRITY CENTURY on the southbound leg of a recent Alaska cruise for a visit to Ketchikan and a final day at sea in the Inside Passage.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Officers over Ketchikan.

Although it is the fifth largest town in Alaska, Ketchikan’s official population of almost 7,500 residents is at times half the influx of peak season daily cruise ship visitors. As CELEBRITY CENTURY made her early afternoon approach, NCL’s NORWEGIAN PEARL (2,394 passengers/1,099 crew) was vacating her berth and Princess’ ISLAND PRINCESS (1,970 passengers/900 crew) was set to depart.

Ketchikan.

By the time we disembarked, the only other cruise ship in port was Holland America’s STATENDAM (1,258 passsengers/557 crew). We walked through the main shopping area and stopped to admire a few of the more prominent totems.

Top totem.

Ketchikan has more freestanding totem poles than any place on earth. While most are concentrated at specific sites like the Totem Center, there are several situated inside small parks within the town, itself.

Creek Street.

The town is named for Ketchikan Creek, which runs through its center. Shops and businesses line a boardwalk built on pylons that jut up from the creek bed, offering views of its bountiful salmon population.

Refocusing in Alaska.

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.

Ketchikan misting.

Once atop the hill, we had a clear view of the mist-swirled, mountainous Tongass Forest behind Ketchikan.

Tongass puddlings.

A recent drenching had created mirror-like puddles of passage.

Salmon streaks.

Upstream from the center of town, the salmon in Ketchikan Creek were resting up for their next hurtle.

5 Dolly tour.

Back in town, a friendly lady beckoned us to tour Dolly’s, a Ketchikan establishment dating to 1919. Although Dolly’s no longer offers its “massage” services, it does reveal how such businesses operated in Ketchikan’s wilder days. $5.00 is the price of admission for a self-guided tour.

Celebrity reflection.
CELEBRITY CENTURY at Ketchikan.

In the short time we had been ashore, the tide had noticeably risen in Ketchikan. We returned to the ship well before the final crunch of returning passengers for a late afternoon snack and a quick workout.

Antici-plate-ing Murano.

Our dinner was scheduled for 8:30 in Murano, the CELEBRITY CENTURY’s French-influenced specialty restaurant. Installed in 2006, Murano is located off the port side of Deck 5 foyer, accommodates 66 guests is laid out with two athwartships alcoves as well as a long gallery with picture window views of the sea. Table settings include fine china, linen napkins rolled in silver rings, Riedel stemware and silver plate cutlery. The menu features a four course Gastronomic and Vineyard Tour pairing for $89 per person or a traditional menu with a cover charge of $40 per person.

Amuse bouche tuna in Murano.

Meals in Murano begin with an amuse bouche, such as this beautifully-presented bite of ahi tuna.

Goat cheese soufflé in Murano.

Appetizers include foie gras, sweetbread, escargots, scallops and a delicious goat cheese soufflé.

Phyllo bites in Murano.
Heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella in Murano.

Soups and salads include lobster bisque, phyllo with anjou pear and roquefort, heirloom tomatoes, wild mushroom cappuccino, mixed greens and spinach with frisée salad.

Fillet with sole.

Entrées range from Dover sole, lobster tail, filet mignon, French turbot, shellfish and saffron risotto to a surf and turf lobster and steak duet, venison, lamb, duck breast and a sea food casserole.

Crepe under construction.
Murano strawberry crepe.

Desserts feature fresh sorbets and ice creams, a quartet of apple sweets, chocolate soufflé, and, illustrated here, a crepe ballon rouge that is prepared tableside.

Capping it off in Murano.

At the end of it all, as if enough riches weren’t dutifully consumed, a silver rack of petits-fours descended upon us. We stumbled out of Murano sated beyond our wildest dreams.

Tapas on tap in Cova Cafe.

Alas, there was no room to accommodate the tempting tapas in Cova Cafe. Maybe tomorrow?

Balcony in the night.

After paying a visit to Michael’s Club where the initiated “regulars” enjoyed watching newcomers’ puzzlement over the utterly unique talents of Richard Rubin, we called it a night. CELEBRITY CENTURY’s horn was bellowing frequently as a Hitchcockian fog enshrouded Queen Charlotte Sound. We literally could not see beyond the balcony railing as the ship plunged onward.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Plates with a view.
Totally random Island Cafe table top.
"X" overhead.
Pool Bar portal.

Our final day on the CELEBRITY CENTURY was spent roaming the ship, eating, enjoying the spectacular scenery of the passage and going down various photo check lists.

Grand Finale.

When we arrived for our final dinner, the double deck wall of glass in the Grand Restaurant was morphing from rose to violet, thanks to a spectacular sunset.

Dinner strings.

A string trio performed a mini concerto of Vivaldi and other soothing masters over the din of conversation and cutlery.

Passing in the Passage.

I made a quick visit to the promenade for a shot of HAL’s 1992-built STATENDAM, which we had finally overcome and left in our wake after following in her tracks for the past three days. In a midlife crisis moment, it was difficult for me to accept that CELEBRITY CENTURY and STATENDAM were aging, midsized “classics”. It seemed like yesterday that both were the latest in a new generation of cutting edge cruise industry giants.

Appetizer in the Grand Restaurant.

Considering Celebrity’s Greek origins, dinner would probably not be dinner on CELEBRITY CENTURY if there was not at least one goat cheese option. Tonight’s, which also featured roasted veggies with arugula, parsley pesto and warm balsamic reduction, was exceptional.

Antipasti in the Grand Dining Room.

Rob went with the CELEBRITY SOLSTICE antipasti.

Final Entrée in the Grand Dining Room: Phyllo Fetish.

And I reiterated on the entrée with yet more goat cheese, this time in an outstanding Mediterranean Phyllo Tart with marinated artichokes, vegetables “a la Checque” and red pepper coulis.

Grand Foyer, facing aft from Deck 7.

One more walk around the ship, then it was back to the cabin to finish packing.

Wing over Vancouver. Photo by and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2011.

Vancouver was bathing in the sun again when we departed Canada Place for the airport. A very difficult city to leave under any circumstances but today was especially heart-wrenching…

Mt. Rainier. Photo by and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2011.

On the way back, we enjoyed yet another scenic flight, taking in spectacular views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and, at twilight, Yosemite.

When CELEBRITY CENTURY departs Alaskan waters in September, she will be heading to Hawaii, the South Pacific and Australia. In 2012, she returns to Alaska and then undertakes a set of trans-Panama Canal cruises that will keep the ship in the Celebrity fleet well into 2013.

End

Very special thanks: Dayna Adelman, Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, 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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