Celebrity Edge in Alaska: 12 Vital Things to Know for a Dawes Glacier Cruise

Man looking toward the ocean on a cruise ship in Alaska, with the Celebrity Cruise stack and snow-capped mountains in the background.

Embarking on a cruise to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime journey for many, filled with stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer, our vital tips will enhance your voyage and ensure you make the most of your dream Alaskan adventure.

From selecting the right stateroom to knowing what to pack, these insights from our Dawes Glacier itinerary on Celebrity Edge in Alaska will help you prepare for an incredible trip. Learn from our firsthand experience to make your Alaskan cruise truly exceptional.

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1. Book a Room on the Port Side

Inside a stateroom on Celebrity Edge cruise ship in Alaska.

We were in a starboard stateroom. However, after completing the Dawes Glacier Alaska itinerary, we know that the port side is the better side to be on. The starboard side faces the dock in all the ports we went to, including Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. But the better view in all these ports is on the other side of the ship. Book a room on the port side; you’ll thank us later!

2. Book The Retreat – You Won’t Regret It

Door to the Retreat private area on Celebrity Edge cruise ship with the Alaskan ocean behind it.

The front of the ship is the best view in some instances. Not all, but some. And the best place to view the front of the ship – in fact, the only place to view it besides the fitness center – is from The Retreat. But only guests staying in The Retreat class can see that view, which means you need to book a suite in that class in advance of your Celebrity Cruise in Alaska. 

So there is no confusion, guests in AquaClass or Concierge do not have access to The Retreat amenities; only guests of The Retreat have access to The Retreat lounge and pool area towards the ship’s bow.

There are other wonderful reasons to be a part of The Retreat class on Celebrity Cruises, but this advantage definitely stood out to us during our Celebrity Edge cruise in Alaska. 

3. Bring Your Own Binoculars – You’ll Be Glad You Did

Woman with a pair of binoculars in Alaska with the mountains behind her on the ocean.

BYOB is advisable for a cruise in Alaska. That’s “Bring Your Own Binoculars,” of course. 

While binoculars are provided if you’re in The Retreat, Aquaclass, or Concierge, your own high-quality binoculars will get you closer to wildlife spotting than what’s provided. 

We were glad we had our favorite binoculars even to get a closer at the ice in the water simply! When you’re 14 decks up looking down, you’ll be glad you have a great pair. Additionally, we loved playing “I Spy” in the far-away treetops while onboard to spot Bald Eagles. There are quite a few, but they’re nearly impossible to accurately identify at a distance without a pair of high-end binoculars. 

  • Pro tip: If you’re into photography, don’t forget your telephoto lens. I travel with my Sigma 150-600mm lens for trips to Alaska, Iceland, Maine, and the like where whale watching and other assorted wildlife watching is a must.
Travel prepared to see wildlife: Get leupold binoculars

4. Alaskan Summers are Colder Than You Think

A man and a woman in winter clothing and jackets during May in Alaska on a cruise ship.

We cruised on Celebrity Edge in May, at the beginning of the Alaska cruise season. We’ve also cruised to Alaska in August, and this is true all summer: it’s really cold some days, especially at sea. This is why you need to pack accordingly. Think bringing a winter coat is overkill? Think again. We were so glad we had ours, plus hats, gloves, and scarves! 

It’s also worth noting that the weather in Alaska can change in an instant. One minute it might be sunny and in the 60s, and the next minute, it’s overcast, the temperature drops 10 degrees, and it’s raining. Pack for various weather conditions and plan on layering your outfits and outerwear. 

We were also grateful that there were fleece blankets for guests to use next to the pool towels. The blankets were not a substitute for a coat but a nice addition for extra warmth while enjoying drinks from the outdoor Sunset Bar. 

4. You Can Buy Local Alaska Products Onboard 

Local Alaskan products on a cruise ship gift shop on Celebrity Edge in Alaska.

We were pleasantly surprised when we visited the “To the Edge” gift shop during our Inside Passage Dawes Glacier cruise because we quickly realized that the products had been switched to Alaska products for the season. They had form line puzzles (an Indigenous art form) and children’s books, apparel with “Alaska” on it, smoked salmon, Ulu knives, Alaskan animal plush toys, and more.

While there are countless opportunities to buy souvenirs in all of the ports that the Dawes Glacier Celebrity Cruise visits, it’s nice to know that you can also buy things onboard in case excursions don’t allow you to have any free time in town. The displays of Alaska-made products onboard was quite lovely! 

The companies and artists that Celebrity Cruises partners with include the following:

  • Mark Kelley photography products
  • Alaskan Reflections for handcrafted gifts and souvenirs
  • Chugach Chocolates
  • Prince William Sound Salts
  • Salty Sisters Designs jewelry
  • LADA luxury soaps
  • Denali Dreams soaps

It was a little touch but made a big difference in reminding us where we were going this sailing. It gave us the ability to always remember our trip! Celebrity Cruises also has a variety of Alaska branded apparel with their company logo and designs.

5. You Need Your Passport

Government building in the background in Victoria, Canada, with an Indigenous totem pole in the foreground on the right.

Alaska is a US state. So if you’re American, why do you need your passport to go on a big-ship Alaska cruise? 

The answer lies in the 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act. In short, this act dictates that a foreign-flagged cruise ship beginning and ending its journey in the United States must make a port of call in a foreign country before returning to the USA. 

While you depart and return to Seattle, Washington for the Dawes Glacier cruise, you’ll need your passport regardless to stop in Canada. You also have to fill out a simple customs form onboard that your stateroom attendant gives you for entry into British Columbia, the Canadian province. 

If you do not want to go on a cruise that stops in Alaska but still want to sail the Last Frontier, we recommend an Alaskan Dream Cruises small ship cruise. Because the ship is a US-flagged vessel, it does not need to stop in Canada like the mega-ships must do according to the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

6. Most Alaska Excursions are Costly 

Helicopter with the snow-capped Alaskan mountains behind it during a cruise excursion.

One of the major differences between cruising on a small ship and a big ship anywhere in the world is the inclusion of excursions. Like any other big-ship cruise line, excursions are not included in the cost of your Celebrity cruise in Alaska.

Alaska is not an inexpensive place to be, whether you’re a resident or visitor. Cruise excursions can range from $155 per person for a train ride in Skagway to over $900 per person for the experience of riding in a helicopter to reach a dog-sledding experience. 

When you’re budgeting for your cruise, budget for some excursions. From our experience, you can explore the Alaska cruise ports independently and still enjoy yourself. However, you need to book excursions – through the cruise line or on your own – to see wild Alaska outside of the town centers where the cruise ships dock. 

We loved extending our trip beyond our small ship Alaskan Dream Cruises trip one summer to see all the wildlife Sitka had to offer before our cruise embarked in the same Alaska city. But since this Celebrity cruise starts and ends in Seattle, it’s not as logical to extend your trip pre- or post-cruise in Alaska.

The point is, getting outside the center of town allows you to see the Alaska Big Five wildlife that you hear about: bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves. We’d argue there’s a sixth during summer season: whales! 

Excursions when Celebrity Edge is docked in port will allow you to see true Alaska. Try a boat safari to see whales, seals, and otters, or a guided hike through the Alaskan rainforest. 

7. Celebrity Cruises Dock in Convenient Locations in Alaska

Port of Ketchikan seen from the top deck of Celebrity Edge in Alaska, a big cruise ship.

While some ports around the world require you to tender onto land from your big ship, like in some Caribbean cruise destinations, or so far from the town center that you must be bused in (unlike a river cruise), the ports that Celebrity Edge took us to were practically in town. The caveat to this was that we still took shuttles to get into the heart of town faster. But this was for safety or convenience reasons, only.

For example, in Skagway, we had to board a shuttle that safely transported guests less than 60 seconds down the road due to rockslides. In Juneau, being shuttled to the heart of the city was simply a convenience. We walked back to the ship from town to get some exercise, but it took about 20 minutes less to simply hop on the shuttle and be driven five minutes between the ship and Juneau’s central area. 

8. Beware of the Onboard Naturalist

The reason we say “beware” is because we didn’t quite realize there was an onboard naturalist until it was too late. When we sailed on the 49-passenger Baranof Dream with Alaskan Dream Cruises (ADC) the summer prior to sailing on Celebrity Edge, we saw the naturalist all the time. It’s easy for that to happen when it’s such a small group with fewer than 50 passengers. He was constantly available for us to ask questions and interact with.

On a big ship with thousands of people, it’s understandably a different situation. Halfway into the cruise, we asked ourselves, “Is there a naturalist onboard like on ADC?” We looked at the daily program to discover that on three mornings, around 9:00 am, there were presentations in the theater discussing Alaska wildlife. We admit we’re not morning people, especially on vacation which is perhaps why, sadly, we missed all of the presentations. 

This brings us back to why we say, “Beware of the onboard naturalist.” Don’t miss the presentations like we did if the educational element of a cruise in Alaska is important to you. It is important to us, and when we realized presentations were taking place to delve deeper into the trip’s surroundings, it was too late.

9. Pack Your Bathing Suit

Bird’s eye view of the pool on Celebrity Edge in Alaska with blue skies.

While it’s likely to be cold outdoors, there is a chance for sunny, warmer days! If that’s the case, or if you’re brave enough to withstand the cold for a few minutes before dipping into the outdoor hot tub, you’ll be happy you brought your swimsuit. 

Because it was an absolutely gorgeous day when we were in Skagway, we put on our bathing suits and took some time to relax in one of the two outdoor hot tubs upon returning from a helicopter excursion and walking around town. We marveled at the beauty surrounding us with so much gratitude for the Alaska cruise we were on.

Additionally, you can take advantage of the indoor Solarium pool on Celebrity Edge’s Deck 14 no matter the unpredictable Alaskan weather.

Guests at an indoor pool on Celebrity Edge cruise ship.

10. Pack Sunscreen

The sun reflects off the snow and glaciers, strengthening its power. Protect your precious skin by regularly applying sunscreen when you’re outside in Alaska! Toss some sunscreen in your toiletry bag as you pack. We were so glad we had it on us during excursions and in our stateroom. 

11. If You’re Expecting Baked Alaska, You Won’t Be Disappointed

What’s the one dessert that comes to mind when you think of Alaska? Baked Alaska, of course! there were two particular menu highlights that the crew and servers were sure to highlight one night of our Celebrity Edge cruise in Alaska: lobster and baked Alaska. 

Baked Alaska is a dessert with ice cream in the middle, a layer of cake, and a sugary meringue topping that is “baked” with a torch flame – or brûléed – before it’s served to guests. While it isn’t our favorite dessert, it was fun to have it while we were in the state for which it is named.

12. You’ll Set Your Clocks Multiple Times Throughout the Cruise

One of the most surprising parts of our Inside Passage cruise in Alaska on Celebrity Edge is that we had to set our clock multiple times to accommodate time changes: 

  • Once when we flew from Florida to Seattle, from EST to PST.
  • We changed our clocks from PST to AST (Alaska Standard Time) when we traveled the Inside Passage toward Ketchikan
  • We had to change our clocks again on the way back from our furthest point when the ship turned around to go back to Seattle, via Victoria, Canada.
  • And, of course, again on the way back to Florida, where we live. Of course, this will vary depending on your home base location. 

What’s more, is that I change the time on my camera when we travel through time zones because I want the photos on my iPhone to sync with the pictures on my camera. When I diligently change the time zone on my camera, the photos are nicely organized in chronological order when I upload them to Adobe Lightroom to edit them.

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