Best For People Who Want
Some of the feel of a luxury ship at a slightly lower price; balconied suites with butler service; haute moderne interior decorating;
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Large mega-ship diversions and sports facilities; all-inclusive luxury service.
At one time it was hard to find a passenger who had come from a Celebrity cruise not raving about the food. However, as with all this things that are no longer new, the focus and energy once devoted to making Celebrity Chef Michel Roux the darling of the high seas has waned in the last years, and in fact Celebrity ended their 15 year relationship with Mssr. Roux as of January 2007. Though still superior and certainly more adventurous than other cruise lines, the cuisine on Celebrity is well designed but at the mercy of waiter who must get it from the kitchen to the table while it is still hot and fresh.
On Infinity the one alternative restaurant dedicated to great liners of the past (all of these sister ships have such a restaurant) is called the "SS United States" for the last (and only) ocean liner built by the United States Government, and the last ship to officially capture the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean ever. Ironically, the liner is now owned by competing cruise line NCL. The restaurant decor contains original artifacts from the ship - which is now permanently docked in Philadelphia. Your dinner is likely to last nearly three hours, but you'll enjoy every minute, as waiters in white tie and tails start tableside fires (for flambé, you see, Celebrity having done the first tableside flambé-ing at sea) with great showmanship. Such signature dishes as Rack of Lamb en Croute and Steak Diane are served nowhere else on the ship. A remarkable wine list ranges up to $450 a bottle - and this atop the $25 you'll be charged for dinner!
Trellis, the very elegant main dining room, with two-deck-high glass windows welcoming warm, natural light and offering remarkable views of the sea, is located in the stern. Its tables are widely spaced enough to permit conversation at sub-shouting levels. The Lido café, deck 10, offers casual dining from 6:30 a.m. to half past midnight, including lunch and breakfast buffets, pizza, afternoon tea and late night snacks. Four buffet lines make for little waiting, and floor to ceiling windows and glass floor areas provide excellent views of the sea.
The Seaside Café attempts to alleviate waiting and congestion by breaking the two buffet lines into separate areas with offerings changing daily. There is a separate sandwich counter aft, as well as pizza, Asian food and pasta stations.
Because it is a cafeteria style buffet line, even with the attempted separation, we found people in the buffet lines running into the pasta line from the other way. During breakfast hours the sandwich station serves made to order pancakes and waffles with a selection of toppings. Many people seem to never discover this area, so service is fast, and the pancakes are hot and fluffy, and the waffles excellent.
This rear section of the café, called the Grill, is also the place for casual dinner, served a la carte. Reservations are required and dinner is served between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. There's also a sushi service here in the evenings. Outdoors at poolside, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts and fries are available during the day. On some nights Infinity lays out themed midnight buffets. 24-hour room service is also available
For healthy fare, the Aqua Spa Café by the thelassotherapy pool serves breakfast, lunch and extremely light dinners; all cold items, nothing cooked. Menu offerings include high-nutrition, low-fat cereals, yogurt, bagels and the like for breakfast. Later in the day, cold plates like apple/walnut salad, citrus marinated salmon, tortilla wraps and cold soups are on tap.
All passengers can also order room service meals from the lunch and dinner menus during the hours those meals are being served. Continental Breakfast room service only is offered except for those with Concierge-class or suite-level cabins. For an out-of-cabin continental breakfast experience, don't miss the absolutely decadent pastries at the Cova Cafe Milano.
Celebrity suggests a per-person per-day gratuity of $3.50 for the waiter, butler (Suites only) and stateroom attendant; $4.00 for Concierge Class stateroom attendant; $2.00 for the Assistant Waiter; and $.75 for the Assistant Maitre d' and the Assistant Chief Housekeeper.
All guests are given a form to sign if they wish to have these gratuities charged to their shipboard account. Children under 12 who are the third or fourth person in the stateroom pay only half these amounts. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.
There are two formal nights on a seven-night cruise, three on longer ones. On two informal nights gentlemen need only jackets and no ties. On formal nights most men turn up in dark suits rather than tuxedos, while ladies choose dressy pantsuits or dresses. By day, don't even consider wearing anything other than shorts, sneakers, polo shirt and a baseball cap.
One of the older Millennium-class vessels, Infinity is a premium ship with a premium restaurant themed on the SS United States.
You will notice the relaxing and elegant atmosphere onboard Infinity the moment you cross the gangway. As your cruise progresses, gentle reminders that you're aboard one of the most sophisticated ships in the "premium" range of cruise lines will appear.
The tone is set early in the cruise. Representatives from each of the ship's activity options set up poolside tables to answer questions of arriving guests on embarkation day. Whether it's spa appointments, questions about Internet rates or casino gaming, it's a nice touch to begin the cruise. There is enough variety in onboard activities, enrichment lectures, and quality entertainment to keep almost any type of cruiser happy -- all led by a friendly and energetic Cruise Director and his staff.
Over the past decade we've noticed a change in the attitude of staff on Celebrity ships. They've moved from delivering a professional but reserved service, to a still professional but friendlier service. Positive change in our view, and clearly exhibited on our Infinity cruise with friendly, yet excellent, service throughout.
The only drawback we encountered in service came when "Elite" members of Celebrity's repeat passenger program, Concierge Club, and suite passengers are offered priority embarkation and disembarkation, along with other perks. The number of those who qualify seems to have grown so large that it is hard to deliver the perks. Check-in lines were shorter for regular passengers.
On the final morning VIP and Suite passengers were invited to wait comfortably in Ocean Liners Restaurant to enjoy a continental breakfast, but still had to wait for their colored luggage tags to be called rather than the promised priority disembarkation.
Celebrity's designers deserve an ovation for their ingenious fusion of contemporary, Old World, Art Deco and chic resort influences. The highlight is the central atrium with glorious amounts of natural light on the edges and a stunning white onyx stairway down the center. The translucent staircase glows with internal yellow neon light and is lined with three-story-high mahogany pillars surrounded by long golden flowing curtains. Altogether, the combination is a visual delight.
Vast expanses of glass and beechwood bisect mahogany-paneled walls, most adorned with provocative works of art. Design accents include golden velveteen and suede brocades, burled woods, and ornate topiaries.
Elegant striped, floral, or patterned fabrics in pastel distinguish the stateroom decor, along with Deco lighting fixtures, and marble desktops.
The busiest public rooms onboard Infinity are the Champagne and Martini Bars on Deck 5 and the Rendezvous Lounge on Deck 4. These large lounges, located just forward of the two level dining room, span port to starboard.
Though the dance floor is located in the Rendezvous Lounge, a circular hole in the middle of the Champagne/Martini bar above opens to the Rendezvous Lounge below. This allows both lounges to share the live music emanating from the Rendezvous. One can opt for the Champagne/Martini Bar lounge, and it's more upscale art deco design, or the more casual Rendezvous Lounge below.
I particularly liked the handle straps on the seatbacks in both these lounges, making it easier for passengers and staff to move them around as needed.
Originally the ship's Cigar Bar, Michael's Club, forward of the casino on deck four, is now used as the singalong Piano Bar. It offers a very sophisticated, intimate, yet clubby atmosphere, with high backed leather chairs, and cocktail tables used to create small groupings.
The Cova Café, on deck five atop the three-deck tall Centrum (atrium), is an excellent people watching spot with free fancy pastries as well as specialty coffees available at an extra cost. A talented a capella singing group entertains patrons in the evenings.
Fortunes Casino, deck four mid-ship, is roomy and features the normal variety of table games; including craps and a recently added Texas Hold'em poker table. Numerous slot machines include one-cent slots. TV screens behind the small service bar show sports events -- though the staff seems to favor showing mostly soccer games.
As with many Celebrity ship lounges, the forward observation lounge on deck 11, which becomes a disco at night, is comparably breathtaking. The three-deck Celebrity Theater seats 901 for Broadway-style floor shows, and around 890 enjoy unobstructed sight lines. What appears to be torches around its periphery are in fact blue and orange lights projected on a strip of thin cloth blown by a fan from below. They give the venue a warm, flickering glow.
But , oh the views from the exterior glass elevators. These lead to the 15-store shopping emporium featuring such notable designers as Donna Karan, H. Stern, Escada Sport and Tommy Hilfiger. You can choose from Swarovski crystal to Fendi purses. The elegant alternative dining room, Ocean Liners, will steal your breath away.
"Words" is the name of the library on Sky Deck. It is open around the clock and books are borrowed on the honor system rather than having a staff member with limited hours checking the books in and out.
The three-deck Celebrity Theater seats 901 for Broadway-style floorshows, and around 890 enjoy unobstructed sight lines. What appear to be live torches on the periphery of the audience are in fact blue and orange lights projecting on a strip of thin cloth blown by a fan from below. They give the venue a flickering glow.
The cyber café, off the Centrum on deck four, has 18 computers in comfortable surroundings offering Internet access with rates from 75 cents per minute to package rates of 250 minutes for $100. Wi-fi service is available in public areas at the same rates if you bring your laptop, though Internet service in the staterooms is not available, except in the top suites.
The service on our sailing was exceptional. A decade ago one would find Celebrity Cruises' staff very professional yet stoic in service. These days, they are encouraged to make the service friendly as well as professional. Beyond exceptional is the tuxedo-clad service in the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant.
Celebrity production shows include terrific special effects, and the quality of performances by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers displays excellent talent. Various headline performances throughout the cruise include typical cruise ship fare: comedians, ventriloquists, pianists, etc. depending on when you cruise.
During-the-day activities include dance lessons, trivia contests, Pictionary, brain-teasers, charades, napkin-folding and arts and crafts classes, as well as enrichment lectures on various topics, which change on different sailings.
Infinity offers a movie theater for near current-run feature films. With any luck you will catch something you really wanted to see when it was first released, but our selection did not seem to be as adult oriented as the passenger mix.
Nightclubs include Michael's Club, an elegant setting for crooning and tickling the ivory. The Rendezvous lounge features live music. The Martini and Champagne Bar serves what the name implies. The Bar at the Edge of the Earth on Deck 11 has various theme parties throughout the cruise, like Mardi Gras night, where participants are given bead necklaces and Mardi Gras style masks. The room décor is bizarre, but the cruise staff does an excellent job of energizing the crowds and making the parties fun.
Infinity has some of the best designed and most comfortable staterooms afloat, with such amenities as television with closed-circuit movies, CNN and pay-per-view first run movies; direct dial phones, bathrobes, a stocked mini-refrigerator; and bathrooms with a shower and built-in shampoo and soap dispensers, vanity and hair dryer. Celebrity offers CNN and ESPN international feeds rather than U.S programming.
From the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, the staterooms are beautifully decorated in soft hues with comfortable beds and seating options. They serve as an oasis of calm away from other parts of the ship. Standard inside and outside staterooms are 172-sq. ft., with good storage space. The lovely balcony cabins measure 184 sq. ft. There are 26 wheelchair-accessible staterooms, including several suites.
Concierge-level and suite guests get handheld hair dryers, but there's nowhere to plug them in; you must use them at the desk/vanity area rather than the bathroom.
"Concierge Class" staterooms are 191 square feet with a 41-square-foot veranda. They include welcome-aboard champagne, fresh flowers and fruit, afternoon canapés, a leather key holder, personalized stationery, oversized tote bag, and upgraded mattresses and bedding.
Priority services promised include priority luggage delivery, dining time and seating preferences, shoe shine service, VIP invitations to exclusive shipboard events, priority shore excursion bookings, early embarkation and disembarkation, and a one-touch button on the phone to reach a Concierge Class desk representative directly.
A changed we noticed since our last Celebrity cruise was that invitations to VIP events were discontinued, and replaced by a calendar of VIP events waiting in your cabin when you board. Then, as the cruise progressed, the events were listed in the ship's daily newsletter, as they were to occur, with a note telling those guests eligible to check their calendar for where and when the event is held.
This new system took away from the more personal feeling of receiving an invitation, and in my view also told non-eligible guests that there was a special event occurring, but they weren't important enough to attend.
Butlers attend the residents of suites, of which there are several types. The Sky Suite (254 to 362 sq. ft) has walk-in closets, whirlpool tubs and the large balcony.
Not quite big enough? Then consider Celebrity Suites (498 sq. ft.), Royal Suites (562 sq. ft.), or even the two enormous (1,690 sq. ft.) Penthouse Suites, with 180-degree views from the balconies.
For great value in pricing and excellent accommodation try the Category FV cabins located on the stern corners of each passenger deck. They are 245 sq. ft, with a sliding door which separates the sleeping area from the sitting area (with two sofas that are hide-a-beds), and a 275 sq. ft balcony. These are not considered suites and do not come with the accompanying amenities, which translates into great value because they are priced lower than suites, sky suites, or concierge class cabins.
Do note that many Concierge Class and the Deluxe Oceanview cabins on the Sky Deck are rather overshadowed by the overhanging deck above.
buffs will be pleased with the glass-enclosed fitness center offering 14 treadmills, 12 exercise bikes, six stair-steppers, two rowers and free weights. Aerobics classes are scheduled throughout the day. Personal training, a body composition test, an Alpha massage capsule, and destress and detox packages are offered at various fees.
At 25,000 square feet, the adults-only AquaSpa is one of the most spacious afloat. The jewel of the fitness area is the highly atmospheric, relaxing Thalassotherapy pool, a sort of saltwater Jacuzzi, in which you'll feel as though you've retreated into a different world altogether (a small fee for use all day). The Persian Garden aromatherapy oasis is a nice place to meditate for an additional charge.
Treatments administered by Steiner's of London are by no means inexpensive but usually booked solid anyway. Get 20 percent off if you book on sailing day, and watch for specials on treatments while the ship is in port.
At $29, the "Frangipani" treatment, a scalp, neck and shoulder massage, is by far the best value on offer. There are also exotic "Sensory Heaven" treatments, such as the float massage, haiku ritual facial and an "aroma stone massage."