S. Locker room amenities include towels, lotion, hair dryer and shower caps. Bring your own robe, hairbrush, and shower sandals (disposable paper slippers are provided upon request). I found the beauty salon to be far more appealing than most cruise ship salons, with its floor-to-ceiling oceanview windows and two new massage pedicure chairs.
Jack and I enjoyed our relaxing aroma stone spa treatments -- hot volcanic stones combined with massage and aromatherapy oils (75 minutes $193; 50 minutes $148). The only aspect we didn't care for was the hard sell of products following our treatments. I signed up for "Ladies Night" ($79) and was looking forward to a mini-facial, foot and ankle massage and body scrub, but unfortunately the timing conflicted with our second dinner seating. Teeth Whitening runs $199 for one treatment and $358 for two people. The spa is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
There's an acupuncture clinic in the Navigator Club on Deck 12. Jack won a free treatment from the young onboard acupuncturist. I'm not sure if he achieved balance and harmony between his physical, emotional and spiritual self, but he did return with a pricey bottle of herbal pills.
Jack also tried playing a few holes at Pebble Beach in the golf simulator, but his club kept hitting the ceiling. The onboard golf program has just been replaced by a golf concierge who will coordinate bag handling, transportation, carts, practice range activity and guests' rounds onshore. Clinics, fitness sessions and stretching classes will also be offered.
Mercury's children's program is very traditional. In lieu of rock-climbing walls and water slides, there are age-appropriate activities, games and crafts. Kids on our cruise seemed totally happy combing the ship in a scavenger hunt with their pirate counselor, making sushi and rehearsing for a talent show.
The X-Club is organized by age groups: Toddlers (under 3), Ship Mates (3 - 6), Cadets (7 - 9), Ensigns (10 - 12) and Admiral T's (13 - 17). There's a colorful enclosed outdoor play area at the Deck 9 aft Fun Factory. Staff is beefed up during family friendly Alaska itineraries.In-stateroom babysitting is available with 24-hour notice for children six months and older for $8 to $10 per hour.
Teens have their own lounge forward on Sky Deck with foosball, bean bag chairs and a cyberspace video game room with arcade games that only teens can love, like "The House of the Dead."
Though the Mercury carries a couple hundred children and teens during the peak Alaska season, the ship's mellow ambience generally attracts a mature crowd. On our May sailing, the majority of the 1,871 guests hailed from the U.S. (45 percent), followed by Canada (33 percent), the U.K. (16 percent) and Australia (3 percent).
Mercury's dress code is conservative. Jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes and bare feet are not permitted in the Manhattan Restaurant at any time, and shorts are not permitted at dinner. Even at the more casual Palm Springs Cafe, bare feet, tank tops and caps are dinner faux pas. To really enjoy Chatham Strait and Hubbard Glacier, pack warm layers, a windproof rain jacket, rubber-soled shoes, binoculars and a camera.
Passengers are requested to wear three types of attire. Day wear: sports shirts and slacks for men; dress, pantsuit or sporty outfit for women. Informal: jacket and slacks for men; informal dress or pants and blouse for women. Formal: tux, dinner jacket or dark suit and tie for men; and a dressy outfit, formal gown or cocktail dress for women. On our sailing, the best dressed award goes to a Scot in a formal kilt.
Celebrity suggests the following per-person, per-day gratuities: waiter $3.50, assistant waiter $2, assistant maitre d' $0.75, butler $3.50, Concierge-Class stateroom attendant $4, stateroom attendant $3.50, and assistant chief housekeeper $0.75.
For children under 12 who are the third or fourth people in a stateroom, half the above amounts is recommended. Gratuities can be either be charged to your account or paid in cash in envelopes provided. For bar and spa personnel, 15 percent and 10 percent gratuities are automatically added to beverage and spa treatments, respectively.