Our February 2011 cruise on Infinity to South America and cruise tour to Machu Picchu was amazing. We flew out through Dallas overnight to Buenos Aires on American. We were able to sleep a little, so we were functioning pretty well when we arrived. One benefit of flying to South America is that there is very little jet lag. We were only a couple of time zones east of home.
We followed Trip Advisor's instructions on getting through the Buenos Aires airport and they worked very well. We paid our $140 each, went through immigration and customs, and got a taxi from the Ezezia tax stand. We already had some Argentinean currency, so we used that to pay for our cab, although they would have taken dollars. The cab dropped us off at the Pamamericano Hotel which I booked through their website (http://www.panamericano.us/index_eng.html). We felt that it was a good value. The location is central to all of the main sights, right at the Obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio. The people at the desk were very helpful. Since it was mid-morning when we arrived, we weren't able to get into ourroom. They checked our bags for us and we started exploring Buenos Aires.
We picked up our Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus tickets at the main office. I had ordered them on-line at a small discount (http://www.buenosairesbus.com/en/service.htm). Since the line for the bus was long, we walked to the Recoleta area so I could order a leather jacket from the URU Recoleta store (http://www.us-cueros.com.ar/english/home.html). It wasn't quite as much of a bargain as I hoped, but was still a good deal for custom made. We ate a nice lunch at the Cafe Victoria. We found the HOHO bus stop and took the bus back to the starting point. The bus gives an overview of the city with good recorded commentary. When we got back to the hotel, we were able to get into our room. Around 8 that evening we walked through the theatre district on Avenue Corientes for dinner. We felt very safe since so many people were out. We ate at Restaurante Chiquilin. I had my first Argentinean steak which was very good. English is pretty common in very touristy areas, but away from them it is more limited. We felt safe, but we were very careful. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with very European architecture.
We scheduled a four hour walking tour with BA Walking Tours (http://www.ba-walking-tours.com/) on Saturday. I would book with them again. We had breakfast at Il Gran Cafe and then met our guide on Avenue Florida near Plaza San Martin. We walked through the downtown area to the government buildings at Plaza Mayo, then to San Telmo where we stopped for coffee at Plaza Dorrego Bar. We took cabs (not included) to La Boca where the tour ended. The tour was very good. The guide covered a lot of history and cultural information. We had lunch after the tour in La Boca at La Yunta. The food was good and they had a great show with young dancers doing Tango and traditional dances. The dancers seemed to be having a good time. We took the HOHO bus back to pick up my jacket and then walked through the Recoleta Cemetery. We found Evita's grave. That evening we attended an excellent tango show at El Querandi (http://www.querandi.com.ar/). It was very professional and showy. The theatre provided transportation, so that made it easy.
Sunday morning, we took another walk through Buenos Aires along the Diagonal Norte to the Plaza de Mayo and then to the Plaza del Congreso. We walked by the historical cafes, Confiteria Ideal and Cafe Tortoni, but they were both closed on Sunday. We had great medialunes and coffee at Cabildo de Buenos Aires Cafe for breakfast. Then we went back to the hotel and checked out. We took a cab to the terminal. The doorman had told us it would be 20 pesos, but the driver wouldn’t use his meter and charged us 30. It was still cheaper than the cruise line ($8 total instead of $40 each). No lines for check in so it was fast. We had to take a bus to the ship from the terminal. After we got to our room and relaxed a little, we headed back into town. We walked from the terminal back to Florida Street along Plaza San Martin. It was a long walk and through an area that might not be safe at night. We had lunch, walked around a little, and then returned to the ship for dinner.
I hesitate to say too much about Infinity since it is going into dry-dock for major renovations in the fall. A few things were looking a little worn, but it was still in very good shape. It is a beautiful ship. We really enjoy the layout of the Infinity. Plaza Deck 3 is the base of the Grand Foyer. The Guest Relations and Cruise Excursion Desk are both in this area along with the SS United States dining room and the movie theatre and conference rooms. The main entrances to the dining room and theatre are on Deck 4. The Rendezvous Lounge is right outside the dining room which makes a nice place for dancing and waiting before dinner. The Casino, Online, and Michael's Club are toward the theatre end of the ship. The upper entrances to the theatre and dining room are on the Deck 5 along with the shops and Martini and Champagne Bars. There are several decks of cabins and then the Resort Deck 10 with the pools, spa and fitness center, and the Oceanview Cafe. Deck 11 has the Constellation Lounge which has a great view of the ocean during the day and dancing at night. The sports deck 12 is the highest passenger level.
The entertainment on the ship is good, if fairly standard. The production shows are enthusiastic. They include a pair of flyers who are very good. The musical groups range from a ballroom dance band, to the more modern dance band, pianists, a guitarist, and the acapella group. Our first evening on the ship we were overnighting in Buenos Aires and a local group of dancers did a tango and traditional dance show which was fun. We also had two speakers, Rod Jory and Graham Sunderland who talked on various aspects of culture, history and nature. They were always fun to listen to, but not always terribly informative.
The food on Celebrity is consistently good. Not 5 star great, but well prepared and varied. We always enjoy dinner in the dining room. There is usually something on the menu that we like. We tried the SS United States this cruise and had a great experience. The food was definitely better than the dining room and the service was wonderful. Food in the buffet is fine; we usually head for the pizza or salads rather than the hot food line. The burgers from the grill are good.
Infinity spent the night in Buenos Aires so we had another day to sightsee. We took a ship's excursion to an estancia for a Gaucho Fiesta and lunch. The riding show was exciting, but we didn't understand everything that happened. We were disappointed that no one explained. We had the opportunity to take a short horseback ride, just 10 minutes en masse around a field. The food was good. They served empanadas and wine before lunch. Lunch was a variety of salads and meat. The first serving of beef was overcooked so it was a little tough, but they brought another serving out later that was great. There were also sausages and chicken. I really liked the chicken.
Tuesday we were in Montevideo, Uruguay. I arranged for a walking tour with Liz Cowley of Real English Tours (http://www.realenglishtours.com/). We met her in the morning outside the port area. She took us all through the old part of the city and gave us a good background on the history and culture. The older part of Montevideo is pretty run down. Some of the buildings are now being renovated. We had a great tour. Liz did warn us to be careful with bags, etc. After she left us, we stopped at Don Peperone for lunch of a chivito and beer which was good. Then we returned to the ship to meet our afternoon tour to the Juanico winery. We drove by small bus through the countryside to the winery. We stopped in the vineyard to taste the grapes. Then we had a wine tasting in the wine cellar. They also served a variety of meats, cheeses, and empanadas which was great.
Wednesday we spent at the beach resort, Punta del Este, Uruguay. We tendered into town and spent the day wandering around on our own. Pay attention to the signs on the pier after you get off the tender and turn right. We didn't and wasted about 45 minutes going the wrong way. It is on a peninsula and we walked through town and around the peninsula. We stopped for lunch at El Pobre Marino. We had very good shrimp and empanadas.
Thursday was a sea day and the rest and relaxation were great!
Friday we had a full day excursion to Peninsula Valdez from Puerto Madryn. Puerto Madryn is a big city right on the coast, but we didn't see much of it. Our excursion went into the World Heritage Site to see wildlife. It was a long bus ride, but worth it. We saw guanico, rheas, matas, sea lions, sea elephants, armadillos, and penguins. The penguins are really interesting. Their burrows are spread out over a huge area. They also lined up on the beach like they were staring out at the ocean. We had lunch at Estancia San Lorenzo, a very good lamb barbeque.
We had another sea day on Saturday. We went on a bridge tour through Captain's Club. They also had tours for Cruise Critic members. We went on deck in the evening and were able to see the Southern Cross.
Sunday was in effect another sea day, since we sailed around Cape Horn in the afternoon. We were lucky that it wasn't rough, although it was windy and cold. We sailed all the way around the island of Cape Horn. We could see the weather station and seamen's memorial.
Monday we docked in Ushuaia, our last port in Argentina. We did a Tierra Mayor hike in the morning. It was a good hike - not too long or too strenuous through gorgeous country. We walked across a valley through an area of beaver dams and ponds and then up the side of the valley to a waterfall. Beaver were introduced from North America. We spent the afternoon walking around the town and had a very good crab lunch at Moustacchio. That evening we sailed along the Beagle Channel past a beautiful area with a series of glaciers.
Tuesday we tendered into Punta Arenas, Chile. Our excursion was a bus ride to the historical site of Fort Famine and to the reconstructed Fort Bulnes. It was mostly just a long bus ride which unfortunately seemed disorganized, not one of our better excursions. When we returned to town we stopped at Estancia Rio de los Cierros and had a tour, snacks, and a dancing demonstration which were all very good. We had some time to walk around the town before we returned to the ship. It has a central plaza with a number of beautiful colonial buildings. There was a small tourist market in the plaza and another at the dock.
We were at sea on Wednesday going through the Strait of Magellan and out into the Pacific. We entered a storm when we got to the Pacific so it got really rough. The ship had a definite list. They said we had 100 mph winds and 20 foot waves. At dinner, our waiter was even a little green. They had to cancel the show scheduled in the Constellation lounge because it was so rough. The captain took the ship through some islands when he could to avoid the rough seas.
Another day at sea, cruising the Chilean Fjords. We wound in and out through the islands and inlets. It was beautiful. The sea was still fairly rough in the morning but had smoothed out by evening.
Friday we tendered into Puerto Montt. Our excursion included a short walk through an alerce forest (type of cypress tree, very old and tall), a stop at a German museum, and some time in Puerto Varas. The activities were all pleasant, nothing outstanding. Puerto Varas would be a good place to wander around, we bought some great chocolate. After we got back to Puerto Montt, we walked down to the fish market and tourist market. I always enjoy the local markets; this one was amazing with lots of shellfish and fish. We found a little restaurant, Iguana, and had empanadas. I liked the seafood filling best. I bought some necklaces from a local who spends his summers in Colorado! The area was on alert for the tsunami from the earthquake in Japan, but we didn't have any problems.
Saturday was our last day and a sea day. The big band show that had been cancelled earlier happened in the Constellation. I always like having the last day to wind down and get ready to leave. It was especially good this cruise since we were leaving for the cruise tour to Machu Picchu the next day.
The tour to Machu Picchu was a really good trip even though it was expensive. It was very intense and tiring. Most days we were up at 4 or 5 and going until 7 or 8 in the evening. The days were highly scheduled and we had very little time on our own. Two more days would have been wonderful, but would have made it even more expensive. I am sure I could have booked it myself for less, but it was easier to have everything handled by the cruise line. We saw a lot and they took very good care of us. The hotels were 4 and 5 star and most of the meals were very good. We had good breakfasts each morning in the hotels. You needed to be in fairly good shape since we had lots of steps and walking. A few people in our group had a hard time getting around and while the tour director tried to make accommodations for them, I think they had a hard time.
We left the ship Sunday at 8:30 and took a bus to the terminal. The baggage pick up felt a little disorganized since we had trouble finding the tag for our luggage tag color. We had trouble finding our group, too. Our tour director, Lucero, was very upbeat and well organized. We had a bus ride from Valparaiso to the Sheraton Santiago that took about 2 hours. We had one stop on the road for coffee and restrooms. We didn't have any touring on the way to Santiago. We arrived about 11:30. The hotel provided juice and cookies while we were checking in. All of the check-ins for the hotels were a little slow. The hotels had to have copies of our passports and would not let Lucero email them or provide them ahead of time. The rooms were not ready that early, so we had lunch and then went to our room. The Hop On Hop Off bus stops right outside the Sheraton, so we bought tickets from the office in the lobby (http://www.turistik.cl/en/productos/santiagoturistik/index.htm). The HOHO bus gives a good overview of the city. We rode the bus to the old center of the city, the Plaza des Armas. We walked around the plaza and saw the colonial government buildings and cathedral. It is a beautiful city. We also walked to the old Market. It would have been fun to have lunch there. Then we walked to the Plaza Constitucion and saw the Palacio Moneda where the President's offices are. We found the HOHO bus and took it back to the hotel. We were able to see quite a lot of the city in a short time. The bus spends a lot of time in a newer area that we could have skipped. We went to Plaza Azul for dinner as a group. Dinner was great: pisco sours, empanadas, tilapia or salmon, and dulce de leche crepes.
Monday we were up at 5 for our flight to Lima. We had to check in individually. Lucero kept track of everyone. The airports were all a little chaotic, so it was nice to have someone telling us where to go and what to do. She helped with the check in process by getting us to the front of the line when necessary and providing a list of all of us with our reservation numbers to the check in agents. We went through immigration and customs in Lima. Our first stop was the Larco museum for lunch and a tour. The risotto we had was okay. Meals everywhere were slow. The tour of the museum was well done. It has thousands of Pre-Columbian artifacts: pottery, jewelry, and figures including a collection of erotic art. Then we did a city tour by bus and on foot. Lima has a beautiful old town. We stayed at the Hotel Melia Lima which was very nice. The staff was helpful and the rooms were pleasant. The neighborhood near the embassies is very safe, but there are not many places around to eat or shop. The hotel restaurant was good, but on the more expensive side. The bar where we had dinner served small plates that were very good, especially the Peruvian sampler.
The hotel stored our excess luggage, so we were down to one bag and our carryons when we left on Tuesday. We were up at 5 again. The flight to Cusco took about an hour. We could really feel the over 11,000 ft altitude in Cusco. We had coca candy and the hotels had coca tea to help prevent altitude sickness. Shops at the airport sold oxygen bottles. We took buses into Cusco and toured Koricancha/Santo Domingo, a Catholic church built on the remains of an Incan temple. The Incan construction is amazing. In the temple, the blocks are so well made that they fit together without mortar and with no space between. The Inca walls stand up to earthquakes that destroy the Colonial buildings. Then we drove through the Sacred Valley to Pisac for the local market and tourist market. There were lots of things to see and buy. We had a snack on the bus and then shortly after we stopped for a very good buffet lunch at Muna Restaurant. The food was mainly Peruvian, even cuy (guinea pig). The location in the countryside was lovely. Then we went to Ollantaytambo and toured the archaeological site. All through the Sacred Valley you can see hillsides that the Inca terraced for agriculture. At Ollantaytambo, you can walk up through terraces to a ceremonial center at the top of a hill. It looks steep, but if you take it easy, it is not bad. Another tourist market was just outside the walls. We then drove back to Yucay to the Sonesta Hotel Posada del Inca. The hotel in an old monastery and beautiful, but we didn't get to see much of it since it was dark when we arrived and dark when we left the next morning. We ate dinner in the bar where a musician was playing local pipes, much different than the Peruvian musicians that seem to be in every city in the world. I bought some baby alpaca scarves in the gift shop.
Wednesday we went to Machu Picchu. We had another 5 am wake up. We took buses to Urubamba and caught the train to Aguas Caliente, just outside Machu Picchu. We took the Vista Dome train which was very comfortable and included a snack each way. The train ride is gorgeous, along the Urubamba River and through the mountains. The river was really high and wild. We saw the beginning of the Inca Trail. We took a bus from the train station to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The guides divided us up by physical ability for this tour which I wish they had done earlier. Darwin, our guide in the site, had been guiding there for 31 years and was very good. Our tour lasted about 3 hours. We walked all over the area. When we arrived everything was clouded over but throughout the day the clouds would break away and then reform. It made for a very eerie, but beautiful day. We had rain periodically. The valley is beautiful and would be worth seeing even without the ruins. The Inca construction is amazing. The one major disappointment with the whole tour happened here. According to our original itinerary we were supposed to have lunch at the Sanctuary Hotel at the site and then have more time on the site on our own. Instead we left the site and had lunch in town, so we were not able to wander the ruins on our own at all. Instead we had time in town, which was not worthwhile. The lunch at the Cafe Inkaterra was good, but we would rather have had no lunch and more time in Machu Picchu. The town is very touristy. We took the train back to Urubamba. The crew performed a native dance and an alpaca clothing fashion show. We were supposed to take the train all the way to Cusco, but they were having problems with the tracks, so we took the bus to Cusco from Urubamba. We stayed at the Novatel in Cusco, again a very nice hotel in a great location, but we didn't see much of it. We had dinner in the hotel and then walked to the plaza and around a little. The shops were just closing around 10:00. Cusco seems like a very interesting place, I wish we had had more time there.
Thursday was the last official day of the tour. We slept in until 6! We visited some very interesting ruins at Saqsaywaman just outside Cusco. Again we saw the huge blocks of stone fitted tightly together. Some alpacas were grazing in the area. We flew back to Lima and returned to the Hotel Melia Lima where we had a farewell lunch. Lucero helped us with our plans for the next day. Our flight didn't leave until evening, so we had the whole next day on our own. We spent the afternoon wandering around the area near the hotel. We saw some beautiful houses, with lots of security everywhere. We saw a couple of places we could have eaten, but we ended up having a very good dinner at the hotel. I had ravioli, with a Peruvian filling and sauce.
Friday's breakfast at the hotel was included with the tour. We were able to say goodbye to Michael and Judy with whom we had spent a lot of time on the tour and who had been at our table on the ship. We really enjoyed their company. We checked out and left our bags at the hotel. We took a taxi to Mira Flores which is a lovely area along the coast with lots of restaurants, hotels, and shopping. We stopped first at some tourist shops. As we were walking around we saw a sign to the pre-Inca site, Huaca Pucullana. We walked there and took a very good tour. Then we had a nice lunch at Cafe Haiti at an outdoor table. We walked the rest of the way to the Larco Mar area right on the cliff overlooking the ocean. We walked along the coast and then had a drink and shopped a little in the shopping center and had one last ice cream. The ice cream was wonderful everywhere on the trip, especially the dulce de leche. We got back to the hotel in the afternoon and had some wine before our shuttle to the airport. We had a great last day. It was nice to have some time on our own to do what we wanted.
Our flights and connections all went well. Our bags did miss the connection in Dallas, but the airline delivered them to us that evening. We had a wonderful trip, but it was really exhausting.
We overnighted at the Olympic Fairmont in Seattle, Washington. This 5-star hotel is old school in the fashion of hospitality and superior customer service. Not only were the suite accommodations superior, but also the service in general was amazing. From the moment we walked up the stairs into the lobby – to the turndown service – to check out, every Fairmont employee we encountered was extremely polite and focused on the comfort and pleasure of our one night stay.
The next morning we visited the original Starbucks and Pikes Market. We watched them "throw the fish" and saw the beautiful arrangements (hundreds and hundreds) of fresh flowers. We stayed in the Financial District of Seattle, so it was walk-able and very much like our San Francisco (hills and all!). After lunch at the Fairmont, our driver escorted us to the GTS Infinity for boarding around 1 PM.
Check in was efficient, smooth and relaxing. It was fun to watch fellow passengers with bouquets of flowers from Pikes. All of the passengers checking in along with us were happy and sailing right through. The process took about 10 minutes, which includes our waiting in linetime. It's interesting to observe the shore personnel. Some of them are contract employees, and some are =X= employees. Some seem unhappy while other personnel work as if they had the best job in the world.
We walked up the gangway to the ship and briefly waited while passengers slipped their Sea Pass card through the first entrance – and had their picture taken. Of course there had to be one cranky passenger waiting behind us. The line was only 20 deep at the ship's entrance and rather than follow the line, they decided to walk to the front of the line – wherein they were quickly and politely asked to, "Please step to the back of the line"…to which the passenger loudly huffed, "Well, get some signs up here to make it clear!!!" Yikes- not the energy any of us wanted to hear, but hey! We're stoked to be stepping onboard our home for the next 16-nights! Maybe they had a 16-hour International flight, who knows?
I'll tell ya, there's nothing like walking on board a Celebrity ship…again. The biggest smiles from the staff and an offering of champagne, sparkling water or orange juice. Every staff member smiles and welcomes the passengers aboard, asking if they are "returning home" or if this is their first sailing. Having sailed Princess and Carnival, our welcome aboard on Celebrity far surpasses them all! This really is a nice touch after waiting in line.Cabin 9038
We bypassed the "Welcome Aboard Buffet" and headed to our cabin on deck 9. Our room was mostly finished with the exception of the fresh flowers in the bathroom and main room. Our attendant was on our heels and promised he would be there shortly, along with our Concierge Class amenities. Jose was our attendant and he and his assistant were extremely mindful throughout the cruise; not once did we have any complaints or concerns. Actually, now that I think back, there was one tiny one – but will save that for later. We're human after all. :)
We have had this cabin number before (on other M-class ships). We enjoy it because the veranda is larger (almost double in size) and bumps out so that the bow and stern can be viewed. It also comfortably accommodates two chairs, table and two loungers. This trip we did not ask for the chaise lounges though.
Being Concierge Class we were given the extra things: thicker towels, champagne, fresh fruit every day, binoculars, pillow selection, leather card holders, fresh flowers in main room and bathroom, evening canapés, Hans Grohe shower head, nice thick (large!) robes, one cloth =X= tote bag which was great for pool / beach toting, one deluxe travel bag (excellent for carry-on for our return flight), and more.
This room was in light oak, tan, brown, orange and some pink and blue. Faux granite counter tops, but still in excellent condition. The love seat, chair, bed and all within the cabin were in great condition considering the age of the Infinity and the amount of passengers she sees. (Side note- we booked a suite on a Princess Amazon cruise in April and two drawers were broken, molding and wallpaper was peeling / breaking off, cigarette burn marks in the bathroom, worst hotel bed we've slept on, no special amenities, perks or higher level of room service - and for the suite price, it was a shame). Our evening canapés on the Infinity were fun. Some like them some don't. Sometimes we went to the Afternoon Tea and brought back wonderful petite fours and mini (delicious) sandwiches for a variety during cocktail hour while we got ready for dinner.
Water pressure was always excellent, hot water all the time, and the drainage was great too – never a problem with water backing up or any foul smells. Best part of the shower, I fit! At 6'7" this is a good thing, LOL! The shampoo and toiletries and packaging were new; not the same Elemis product we enjoyed before, not horrible, but I didn't enjoy it as much.
Back to our first day…finding our table number on the credenza, we walked to the Trellis Dining room to spot our table. Rather than a table for 2, it was a table for 6. We found the Maitre'D and expressed our concern, as our cruise was booked several months' prior, with a table for 2. He told us that he was sorry for the error, but unfortunately, there were others ahead of us and we would just have to wait it out. His attitude was arrogant and dismissive. I mentioned that we were Captain's Club Elite members and thought we had priority-dining request and he disagreed with me and said there wasn't anything else to do but wait and "hope for the best".
We then went to the Aqua Spa to make our reservations for treatments and to purchase the Persian Garden pass (rather than $20 a day it was $140 for the cruise, a $180 savings). Still somewhat perplexed about the dining arrangements and Maitre'D issue, we came back to our cabin and I called the customer service department at Celebrity, as we booked directly through them. A very kind agent shared with me that we needed to seek out the Captain's Club Officer on the ship, which we did on Deck 3, next to Guest Relations. The Officer apologized profusely and did agree with us. She didn't promise the moon, but did promise to communicate with us until the problem was resolved. (Side note- every staff member in Guest Relations was courteous, communicative and always smiling, which is more than what I can say about our last cruise).
She called us back later in the evening and said to go ahead and attend the first night's dinner and the Food / Beverage Manager would be waiting for us. That evening we couldn't locate the Manager, but only the Assistant and were soon being escorted to the table for 6, not our arranged table for 2 – so I stopped him. He apologized and took us back to the lobby and asked that we go into the lounge for complimentary drinks while he figured this out. Thirty minutes later he arrived and walked us to a table for 2, but stated it was temporary until they permanently located an "acceptable" table for 2.
The next evening we arrived at the Trellis Restaurant and the F/B Manager (Eduardo) deeply apologized and said, "I am so sorry. We have failed and to make it up, I am escorting you two to the SS United States (their specialty restaurant) for a complimentary dinner and drinks." Dinner there was gastronomical and such a nice gesture. When we returned to our cabin that night we had a dozen red roses, a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries, a bottle of wine and two cards – one from Guest Services and one from the Captain's Club Officer, all apologizing and thanking us for our business and patronage!
Trellis Dining Room, Specialty Restaurant and Food Venues
The next day, I received a phone call from Rose in Guest Services telling us that they would like to give us another complimentary dinner at the SS United States, whenever we would like. We were on cloud 9. Needless to say, the next night at the dining room proved to be stellar. We were escorted to our table for 2 and our waiter, Vinod and his assistant, Lan were amazing. Vinod is from India; he was the best waiter we have ever had. Lan was from China. This was her first cruise and she was just totally amazing, so very sweet and kind to us. Ruby was our Assistant Maitre'd and she made it a point to pamper us every single day…somehow they found out what our favorites were and went out of their way to spoil us, even preparing dishes and desserts, which were not on the menu! Dining was incredible.
The menu has changed, indeed. A month ago the menu in the specialty restaurants and the main dining rooms went through an overhaul. Change is good. Some of the old favorites are still there: Caesar Salad, Prawn Cocktail, Boneless Beef short ribs over Polenta, Herb roasted chicken, the cold soups, Escargot, Oyster Rockefeller, etc. Our Sommelier (Luis, who was incredibly professional and focused on us) introduced us to a wine package – 3 bottles for $80, which was a great deal considering the vintage we chose. We were never harassed about the Riedel stemware and blending classes.
The service in the dining room was always efficient, friendly and professional. The food was hot and fresh. The pasta has even improved since last year!! We never felt rushed, but were always "doted on". Vinod, Lan and Ruby went out of their way to express their joy in serving us. When Vinod took our order he would always answer with, "Pleasure, Sir". If we did not see anything on the menu for dessert which appealed to us, he would insist on bringing something else, whether Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee. One night Ruby made a special dessert for us of Crepes with Grand Mariner sauce.
As mentioned, the menu has changed. I found the food to always be hot; never luke-warm (which was a slight problem on our last X cruise, last year). The service, again, was impeccable. All of the dining staff, for us, had the right balance of polite conversation and servitude. Even waiters and assistant waiters not in our section would smile and say, "Hello" to my partner and me.
The SS United States menu (as all of the specialty restaurants on M-Class) changed. No more Steak Diane (Boo!) but the surf and turf was simply amazing, as the goat cheese soufflé, Lobster Thermadore, Rabbit Tart, Pear and Roquefort en'croute …you name it, everything we sampled: from the Pommeroy Brut Champagne to the Chocolate Soufflé and the table-side productions were just amazing in every way. The SS United States is probably the brightest of the specialty restaurants in the M-Class ships. We loved it. The service and ambiance was still very classy. We like being spoiled, and while some think the timed presentations are dorky and find negative criticism, we enjoy it. I work in hospitality and hire only the best in class. These employees had their act together. The only food item I didn't care for at all was the Foi Gras. The Diver-Scallops Wellington was to die-for…and that was just a starter course! White gloved and tablecloth service was excellent. We have been to some of the best restaurants in San Francisco and abroad and appreciate excellent service and cuisine. I believe on a scale of 1-10 (1 low, 10 high) the food quality (for a hotel) was a 7, the presentation an 8 and the service an 8. Most ship employees (except for the Emporium venue, Spa staff and entertainers) hold two jobs, day and night. The employees at the SS United States also worked in the Aqua Spa Café (next to the Thallossotherapy Pool / Spa) during the breakfast / lunch hours. Every time I went there to get coffee, drinks or lounge an employee would comment on our dinner and how nice it was to see us, and ask, "When are you two coming back?" Sure it may appear contrived, but customer service is what it's all about!! That spoke volumes to us. And what many don't realize is that a cruise ship is basically a hotel on water! Working in the industry, I have to share with you that it is so difficult to please every person – and let's face it, when we're spending our hard-earned dollars…some tend to be unforgiving and severely critical of the most minor things, to even a one-time experience (whether "mechanical" or the quality of soap in the cabin's Loo). Good heavens- but picturing a floating hotel, it truly is remarkable what most cruise lines endure and go through, and I mean the employees. They work their butts off, all of them. These employees work week after week with a different cruise / guests and all of our quirks and personalities each and every day and they have to maintain a pleasant face. Talk about the "knights"!
Celebrity kicked up a notch their Sushi bar, so now they offer stir-fry as well. My other half had the stir-fry once and raved about it. It smelled delicious too. Three or four shaved meats to choose from along with a wide array of fresh vegetables, sauces and rice noodles.
When we were on the Princess cruise, I recall reading postings where passengers just fawned over their pizza. Having tried it twice, I did not care for it. Celebrity on the other hand never fails. The pizza bar was in full swing every day; I think my favorite was the BBQ Chicken pizza. The pizza maker was extremely friendly and good at his job. There were always fresh veggies and cheeses to add as well. Right next door was the pasta bar; I don't recall any changes there other than they did not serve "low carb" pasta this last voyage, but did have a whole-wheat product. The sauces we tried were good – and there is a baked pasta dish to choose from as well (such as Lasagna, Penne & Ham Bake, etc.).
There was an Asian Bar as well, which had Asian breakfast and lunch every day, from Dim Sum, to rice noodles and fresh vegetables to curried lamb, Teriyaki Salmon or beef, pork buns, stir-fried rice, etc. I thought this bar could use some improvement. Being a San Francisco native, I may be a little more critical of Asian cuisine, but it was still good and we enjoyed it for the most part.
The breakfast and lunch buffet were great. Unlike other cruise lines, there was no meatloaf that I could see, LOL! I say that with a smile, as everyone has their "comfort food" and meatloaf may be it for some passengers. I don't look for it on a cruise, or even my own comfort food (Mac and Cheese)…even my East Coast Mom, who loves comfort food, will "turn the other cheek", LOL and kvetch about this type of food on Celebrity. The buffet however, included a theme most every day. Breakfast was breakfast, no changes at all there: breakfast meats (including Bangers), waffles, made-to-order omelets, sautéed veggies, cereals and fresh fruit, pastries, Eggs Benedict, etc. There were two brunches, both at-sea days. The brunch was a waste of time in my opinion, really nothing out of the ordinary to make it stand out – other than the beautiful ice carvings. The food seemed to be the same as breakfast, with the addition of more meat, ham and seafood. That's it – oh and the Mimosas and Bloody Mary's (smile).
Public Areas (Including Spa / Pool)
The Infinity is a seasoned ship. She is in operation 24/7. Although we did not set out to "find" rust, chipped paint, faded fabric, etc. it was there. I know some do scrutinize and to each their own. If either of us noticed a small tear in fabric or a stain…or anything that resembled "usage" we were humbled to remember that 1900 passengers are on this grand ship 24/7 and what would OUR home look like if we had 1900 guests tromping through. Sure, most are respectful of other's ownership, but unfortunately there are some who may not show the same regard or respect, and treat things without care or appreciation and it is a full time job to combat disrespect, not to mention just the simple wear and tear. For example, we take our shoes off if we put our feet up on a chair or sofa. We have nice furniture and hope it to stay that way – but we noticed some passengers with their dirty shoes up on the sofas, chairs, tables…etc., in some pubic areas. I guess the mentality of some is, "I paid for this vacation, I'm going to do and expect what I want." Honestly, we were pleased with the condition of the ship's public areas. The crew was always cleaning. The stairway rails were always polished and disinfected. There were vacuum marks continually. Windows and mirrors never showed smudges or stains. Hand sanitizers are everywhere! Not only are they stationary, but staff walks about with a bottle squirting it into your hands before entering a public area with food. (Not so on Princess, as a matter of fact one stationary dispenser remained broken our entire 2-week voyage.) Since Celebrity adopted the no-smoking policy, the general areas smelled so much fresher to us than our last Celebrity cruise in September 2008. Now before anyone bites my head off, I AM a reformed smoker, but have been smoke-free for almost 7-years. While I want smokers to have rights, I want to have my non-smoker (and smeller) rights respected as well. : ) saying that, all cabin verandas are smoke-free and the only places we witnessed smoking were on the Lido deck (pool and grill) and starboard, deck 5. I did not research the appropriate places, but this is what I witnessed. Head's up…the Fortunes Casino is entirely smoke-free. We did spend more money there, this cruise. There were a couple of "lucky" slots that paid us, too!
The pool, Aqua Spa and locker room /sauna areas were always stocked with fresh rolled towels. Pool Butlers seemed to be more prevalent, even in the spa area – which was nice. We generally don't hang out at the pools, but rather in the spa and never really saw a lot of butler service there. Not only were there Pool Butlers everywhere, but also security was in full force. Not once did I witness the Thallossotherapy / Spa area without a security guard, and I was pleased. As most seasoned cruisers know, the moment the sea swells, so do all the pools, LOL! While friendly, the guards were observant and always watching. Not only did I witness one running to a passenger who fell down while climbing into the Thallossotherapy pool (and he RAN!) but I witnessed the security removing a chaise-hog's belongings. Now, before anyone gets cranky with me, I'm all for reserving a spot / chair for your other half, or putting a book down while you run up to grab something to drink, but as usual there were chaise hogs on this trip. One particular morning I got up early to grab coffee in the Aqua Spa to bring back to the room and noticed four chaise lounges being reserved with towels, books, etc. This was in Columbia and it was around 6:00 AM. At around 7:30 we walked through on our way to breakfast and to our zip lining tour…the chaise lounges were still unoccupied. We left after breakfast for our excursion and returned around 12:30…had lunch and walked back through the Thallossotherapy area as our cabin was directly below. Chaise lounges still un-touched, nobody there. Came back up to the area and couldn't find a lounge, only a chair. The four-some came back from their tour (they still had on their little stickers) and sat down at around 2. I was livid and shared with them how I thought it was rude they reserved these chairs for over 6-hours with nobody present, and the next time would ask a Pool Butler to remove their things. They could care less.
Later on our cruise (after several complaints from other passengers), security started removing passenger belongings if they were gone for over 30-minutes. I thought that was fair. I wish that the Security would pay closer attention to the unoccupied chaises (at least those which were unoccupied for a few hours!!).
The excursions were very good and the naturist / narrator while traveling through the Panama was excellent. Celebrity had a few different documentaries on TV regarding the Panama and those were good as well. We were happy to stay on board and watch the passage through the locks in the Panama Canal. The shores of the Canal reminded us a little of our Amazon trip, it was beautiful and relaxing. We enjoyed most of the morning and early afternoon from our veranda but made our way to the bow of the ship for some pictures.
I learned on this cruise that I should have brought more cash. Usually, I use my credit card or debit / Visa card and just let my bank figure the daily exchange rate (never a headache). I do carry small bills for tipping, etc (good rule of thumb for me is to bring $75 in singles and $25-50 in fives). On this trip, I only found two stores, which allowed the use of a credit card, and both were in Cartagena, Columbia. We zip-lined and really wanted the video, and a cold beer, but they did not take plastic. For an X-sponsored tour, we found this frustrating, as many European itineraries don't seem to have this obstacle. Like my mom asked, "Why didn't you use the ATM on board?" Hmmm, the simple things in life seem to fly right over my head sometimes!
I'm a big guy and enjoy riding in a larger vehicle (think coach) but on this cruise, the largest vehicle we rode in on an excursion was the mini-type bus. Comfortable, but on the smaller side. The Celebrity-sponsored tours always provided a safe driver and good narrator. We enjoyed riding in the bust to our destinations, as the guides were knowledgeable, friendly and always pleasant.
Following is a list of our ports and one or two descriptives for each:
Seattle: The great Pacific Northwest! Pikes Place was amazing to witness. Fresh flower bouquets were amazing. Visit the original Starbucks! City is similar to SF with hills, museums, waterways and great restaurants.
San Diego: Loved the Hop on / off Trolley. Took us to Hotel Del, Old Town, Gas Lamp Quarter and about the city (Zoo and public arts center). Nice city to leisurely stroll around.
Cabo San Lucas: Slowly leaving the quiet resort town behind with a lot of new construction. Not too many street merchants peddling. Gorgeous snorkeling /wave running waters. Los Arcos is a must!
Acapulco: The Fort across the street is a good (and free) tour! Gold Zone offers OK shopping and the cliff divers are a definite must-see. Shot Over jet boat ride is great for thrill-seekers. Hot climate!!
Huatulco: Lazy, sleepy village town with an ordinance to halt the town's growth. Lovely town with quaint shops, turquoise waters and untouched beaches and coves. Will be back!
Panama: We did not get off the ship, but there were a few all-day excursions to choose from. I recommend staying on the ship for your first passage through.
Costa Rica: I can see why many Americans retire here. The dichotomy of the jungle and city are awakening to the senses and soul! Very hot and humid here. Zip line for the adrenaline-seekers! Fun!!
Cartagena, Columbia: Definitely try the "Deluxe" tour. It's close to 6 hours but worth it. Visit the dungeons, forts and drive through the city. Shopping was offered, here but bring cash! Interesting city. Pulling up to the port reminded us of Miami Beach or Honolulu. Beautiful city and country. Listen to your tour director and do NOT make eye contact with street vendors, they will not, I repeat, will NOT leave you alone. Never have seen it worse than here.9-Days at Sea: "Aaaaahhhhh!" Need I say more? : )
I mentioned earlier that Celebrity offers the best, "Welcome Back!" Depending upon the cruise, they provide hot or wet-iced towels, punch, ice water or lemonade (hot chocolate and coffee on Canada and Alaska cruises) and on this cruise, a huge canopy over an area rug, two large sofas, two large chaise / chairs and a table. We sat once, and witnessed several passengers who needed special accommodations using these. Several staff are there to welcome passengers back with warm smiles and a, "How was your day?" This is a big bonus for us as we were on a Princess cruise to the Amazon just a few months prior and we never were offered a drink, cool towel or chair to sit in – not only that, but every single time we embarked the ship on Celebrity there were a considerate number of staff and they ALL said, "Welcome Back!" or, "How was your day?" etc. Not once did we experience this on our last Princess cruise. The same applied to my Carnival cruise several years back. The little things do add up!
Guest Services and Future Sales
We had a couple of issues that required the use of the Purser, or Guest Services and Sales.
1.On our Celebrity cruise last year I purchased a nice X-brand basketball – style tank top and some gym shorts. While in the sauna my tank disappeared once and swim trunks twice, LOL! I found my swim trunks once but not the second time and the tank never appeared.
2.Our owner's credit was never posted to our account.
3.The earlier debacle with the seating arrangement.
4.We wanted to use the new 'Celebrity Passage' offer (book any cruise, open-ended for $100 each).
5.We had a question about the free Internet package for Captain's Club members and wanted to know about a particular charge.
Each time we spoke with the Sales or Operations / Admin staff, they were mostly pleasant. Once a gentleman with a dismissive & arrogant attitude assisted me, but he quickly backed off and another assisted and did a great job explaining. Every other staff member (Guest Relations Officer, Rose especially!) was great and always greeted us with a small and genuine customer service attitude. Jose in future sales was informative and courteous.
Overall, my better half and I would rate this cruise a "7-8" on a scale of 1 (low) and 10 (high). We are seasoned =X= guests and have enjoyed every cruise we have taken on her vessels, and are looking forward to sailing on the Equinox next year.
We have never experienced a mechanical problem on Celebrity. Actually we're quite lucky, as we have only experience mechanical problems on one cruise, which was our last Princess cruise – twice we were held over because of mechanical problems with the ship's propulsion units
What stands out to us on Celebrity, vs. other cruise lines is their stellar customer service. On =X=, we have never experienced rude customer service which was not immediately rectified. We have always been treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. I can say that =X= just set the bar very high with us. We haven't found a line yet who compares with excellent guest service and exceeding our expectations.
Wishing you and yours many wonderful sailings on Celebrity or your favorite cruise line!
How is a guest supposed to sleep with six men pounding heavy tools outside the stateroom all night long, night after night? In terms of value for the money (over $5,000) this cruise was a terrible experience. (I previously cruised on Royal Caribbean and had a wonderful experience.) My research into Celebrity Cruises indicated that Royal Caribbean purchased this line to give customers a "more luxurious" experience. This effort appears to be a miserable failure. The Celebrity ship was not as nicely appointed as the RC ship. The food was not as good, and the selections were not as extensive. There were maintenance and cleanliness issues within the cabin.
The biggest disappointment,however, was that for two consecutive nights a maintenance crew worked directly over our stateroom, and several others, scraping up and relaying carpet. This prevented guests from being able to sleep for two consecutive nights from 10:00 PM until 7:00 AM. It is difficult to imagine something that could have a more adverse impact on the experience of guests. But, for good measure, the Infinity features a crew of members who were rude, inattentive, lacked basic knowledge of the ships services, made poordecisions about where to offer services, failed to enforce rules for the safety and comfort of all guests, and were disrespectful to guests.
At the highest levels it was clear that the guest relations staff was absolutely indifferent to any and all of these issues. Royal Caribbean should be ashamed of the Celebrity Cruise line. Without a major restructuring in quality management, it is inevitable that this line will weaken Royal Caribbean's standing in the industry. As disappointing as our cruise experience was, the parent company should be equally disappointed in the failings of the Celebrity Infinity.
The December 3, 2008 sailing to Key West and Cozumel was our first cruise ever. We really had few expectations, and unfortunately few were met in return! It started out great with a nice balcony room, bigger than I had anticipated, and well laid out. The buffet lunch was not very good, so I was hoping dinner would be better and it was. A chilly departure was a little late, but I figured that was normal.
We arrived in Key West on time and were surprised at how haphazard the docking procedure was, just a bunch of locals who showed up in street clothes with the guy in charge yelling at Infinity's crew "not to worry." We also had to dock at the Navy base, as another cruise ship was docked at the base of the downtown area of Key West (causing us to shuttle it into town instead of walk). No big deal.
Having previously lived in Florida, Key West was really not the destination we were looking for, but it was on the way to Cozumel! My husband and I had fun finding the restaurant we got engaged in.
The disappointmentstarted when the captain announced technical difficulties with the navigation system causing a delay while someone came to fix it. We ended up leaving 24 hours later with Cozumel being canceled and Nassau, Bahamas being added. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. I was crushed, but insistent on making the best of it.
It became apparent, as I've seen from other reviews, that the crew did not have their act together. We ran into our waiter from the SS United States (specialty restaurant, which was spectacular and well worth the extra $30 per person) and he said they had 300 new crew and the ship was "not the same since it came out of dry dock" (just previous to our cruise), making staff morale and service poor. It was obvious there were water problems on board as well.
Trying to be brief, we found too many things unacceptable for a cruise ship of this nature: NO coffee, yes, NO coffee two mornings in a row! (we were told because of water pressure issues.) People were walking around the buffet complaining and quite ticked off about this. Both nights we went to the martini bar they ran out of the glasses for the martini sampler. When I gave my $10 martini back to the bartender because it tasted like fruit punch, he looked at me and walked away, not even offering to try to make me a new one.
Every time I got eggs they were stone cold, including room service and the buffet. We found the buffet food to be poor, but loved the Aqua Spa Cafe. We heard some complain it that it was too bland, but we found it fresh, tasty and healthy for breakfast and lunch. We also found about 25 old beach towels and empty glasses on the top deck outdoor lounge area at 8am, obviously leftover from the day before. The ship was not kept very clean at all. I found it incredibly frustrating that by the end of day 2 the Purell hand sanitizer stations were very frequently empty and it seemed I had to use 3 dispensers in the bathroom before I found one with soap. Asked for early seating, got late; asked for table for 2, got 8. I could go on more, but will stop, you get the picture.
After they canceled Cozumel, morale among the passengers started to get bad, but everyone commented that it was not just because of the redirection of the cruise, but the poor service on the ship. The guest services area was rampant with complaining passengers. I heard the phrase "this in my 10th cruise and it's the worst!" on more than one occasion. Someone in the elevator said "this boat sucks".
When I got in the water, in the Bahamas, for a much anticipated snorkel (which was supposed to be in warm Cozumel) the frigid temperature took my breath away and caused me to curse one more time at Celebrity cruise lines. The roughly 8 year old kid in front of us almost had a panic attack it was so cold. We arrived back from our excursion to find our air conditioning broken and our room at around 80 some degrees.
Things were bad until the very end -- it was extremely unorganized trying to get off the boat. Our designated exit area by the theater was jammed with people (mostly older and some on the frail side) and the doors were still not open an hour into the scheduled time to get off. We found another area that was open and they allowed us off, luckily our luggage was in hand.
No, it was not a very good introduction to cruising and the $120 refund (our designated amount with an outside stateroom, some got more, some less) was less than acceptable as a consolation prize. Never will I cruise Celebrity again, or recommend it to a friend.
Wheelchair accessible stateroom was good but rest of ship very frustrating. All public rest rooms and all outside doors on floors were not automatic, resulting in haven't to find assistance both inside and out to access. Try finding someone evertime you need to use a restroom. Even if they had one door per floor and/or one restroom, emergency telephones in hallways unable to reach.as to high for wheelchair bound.
Food and entertainment mediocre, no tables for disabled in d.r., in the theatre seats at very rear resulting in unable to see or hear. Movies in venue with only stairs. Ability to see glaciers close only available with stairs. The metal threshold on doors and floors not level and very high resulting in my wheelchair getting hung up and having to find assistance.
We were a party of six cruising the Panama Canal on the Infinity. All of us had been on Holland America last year (Eurodam), most of us had been with either Carnival, or other Celebrity cruises before.
I'd say the food was good to great. The soups were consistently disappointing (other than the French Onion Soup, which was ordered at least once every evening). Buffets were good, but not outstanding. Specialty restaurants ... we tried both and Qsine was absolutely off-the-charts great and a worthwhile experience. But on the whole, the food left us feeling like Holland America was a touch better.
Service (Jaya/Emilio) in the dining room was superior and staffing in general made for a great time. Be aware that you can get special deals on the Specialty restaurants (sometimes, even 2-4-1) later on in the cruise.
The itinerary certainly was enjoyable. If you take this cruise, definitely wait to do the zip line in Puerto Vallarta. One consideration ... for some people, 15 days is a long, long time to be at sea. Especially so if you have to consider time before and after cruising.
All said and done, it was agood cruise but not especially a great one. I believe Celebrity charges a premium price and at least on the Infinity are failing to provide the extra value that price commands. I considered long and hard while on the ship whether to take advantage of some deals to re-book ... and in the end declined. I think my vacation dollars will go back to Holland America or try Princess before I come back to Celebrity.
My wife and I took our first cruise on a Celebrity ship (Infinity) because it was part of a church group. We have been on several Royal Caribbean cruises. This last frontier trip to Alaska was a hit and miss for our group.
We had great weather at all ports. August 17. A few couples had morning excursions cancelled because of fog. They were unable to fly out. Ketchikan is a quaint town to walk through. Creek Street is fun with it's shops and river filled with salmon. Juneau provided my best memory. I took a float plane to a remote river and fly fished for pink salmon and dolly varden. I caught close to 40. the salmon on streamers, the dolly's on plastic eggs. Be prepared to wait for an hour or two to get off the ship. The tender process is horrible.
The Tracy Arm passage was beautiful and the glacier view pretty good. In Skagway, another cute town, we took the bus instead of the train up white pass. This way we were able to make many stops to take photos and also travel far beyond where thetrain turns around. Into the Yukon we went. it is a visual delight. The next stop in Victoria is a big miss. You don't port until 6pm. They need to make a change here. Overall the excursions are expensive.
The food was only fair. We had to return steak many times, not cooked how we ordered. The wine selection was very good. There should have been more salmon and fish options. The burgers by the pool were good.
The onboard entertainment was good, the naturalist, Brent Nixon was funny and informative.
We saw 1 bear, a few whales, and 1 eagle, all from such a long distance away that we were unable to photograph them. I suggest you research well before you book this alaska trip.
We would not sail the Infinity, or Celebrity, again. This was our first Celebrity cruise. Onboard we continually heard veteran Celebrity cruisers saying not to judge Celebrity by this cruise. Many passengers had complaints throughout the cruise, more so than any other cruise we have been on (this was our 11th cruise). The ship, coming out of major refurbishment, was not cruise ready. Embarkation was delayed by bussing passengers to a convention center where we sat for several hours before being bused back to the cruise ship, and given a box lunch while travel agents were given a party onboard. This also meant the dining room wasn't prepared and didn't open on time for dinner. The ship departed approximately 6 hours late which limited onboard activities while we sat in port. There were several "inconvenience" issues throughout the cruise. Water, ice, and coffee machines were frequently empty or not working, buffet lines closed early, and there was a morning of plumbing issues in which toilets on our deck wouldn't flush. In Manta we were told we had to purchase shuttle tickets if we were to get off the pier. This simply wasnot true as many of us learned after buying Celebrity's tickets. Upon exiting the ship there were "courtesy shuttles" available. There were several "health risk" issues. The chemicals in the thalossotherapy area were so high it bleached swimsuits and left a residue on our skin. Having life threatening food allergies I always call ahead several times to make sure my dietary requests are noted and check again once in the dining room. Because some of the meals I received left me questioning whether I was receiving the correct meals, I met with the Maitre d'. It was on the fifth day I learned the staff didn't understand my allergies and it was now taken care of. Anyone with required dietary needs knows this is a major (in my case, life threatening) issue. There were several "good" issues. The itinerary was great. The room stewards were wonderful- always smiling and there to help. Jenny Baker from Guest Services was fantastic and several passengers commented on her efficiency. Once underway the ship was beautifully decorated for the Holidays. Previous Celebrity cruisers suggested I write Celebrity a post cruise letter and give them a chance to renew our faith. The response letter by Jessica Scaglione, Guest Relations Advocate, was like the cruise, mediocre at best. The response letter stated "I sincerely apologize for the 'inconvenience'" in regards to severe food allergies; "regret that we fell short in this area" reference the box lunch, bussing passengers to the convention center for several hours, and delayed departure; "the misinformation provided about the transfers offered in Manta. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your experiences." pertaining to paying for transfers we didn't have to pay for; "have also noted your additional concerns" regarding "the discomfort caused by level of chemicals in the hot tub, and the plumbing issues" which left me feeling the health issues weren't taken very seriously.
My daughter and I booked our first cruise ever to the Panama Canal through Cruise Encounters in Langley .B.C. They did an excellent job of arranging every thing for us and as this was a completely new experience for us (I'm 77 years old) it turned out to be a fantastic experience that my daughter and I can not wait until we can go on a cruise again. We have become 'cruisers'.
Celebrity Infinity gave us fantastic treatment and service. Tours , etc. were well organized as well was boarding the ship at the beginning of our cruise and at the end of it. The food was excellent as was the entertainment. We were never at a lose as to what to do with ourselves. Our four dinner companions and us became the best of friends by the end of our cruise. You could not ask for more accommodating staff. Our wishes were their command 'so to speak'. We had a balcony room which was more then adequate for our belongings and very comfortable. Would highly recommend cruising with Celebrity Ships.
We had a really good time on the Celebrity Infinity! This was our first Celebrity cruise. (HA, RCL, and Cunard before) It was a 14 day cruise from LA to Miami. The ports of call were: Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco, Puntarenas Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, and Cartegena Columbia. We also had 7 sea days interspersed throughout.
I'll start with the ship itself. It is older, and has a few minor things that show that wear. We personally didn't mind it at all, and it's such a grand ship! We had a CC aft veranda room (8172). Very nice. The veranda is twice the size of the ones on the side of the ship! We laid on our chaise loungers leaving every port, listening to the music up on the 10th deck, watching the sunset.... it was fabulous. Also a must for the Panama Canal!
The staff were really friendly, and seemed genuinely to love their jobs. Our room steward was most efficient, and the waiter, assistant, and somelier in the dining room were wonderful as well. The waiters in the lounges were almost too efficient, in that if you gotup to use the restroom or dance, your drink may be gone when you returned. We had to yell about that once or twice!
We had breakfast in the main dining room three times. The eggs were overcooked, and the menu limited, so we stuck to the buffet or room service the rest of the cruise. Lunch was also not that great, so again, we went to the buffet. (very good sandwich bar) Dinner however was wonderful. There are two menus every night - one that is a constant, and one that is only for that evening. I loved most of the food that I ordered. (the steaks were always a bit overdone) Desserts were excellent. The sommelier was a little slow the first few nights, but then she picked up and was quite good. The buffet was crowded for breakfast. We would go late, or if we needed to eat early, we ordered room service. Room service was very prompt! The buffet food was good average. Nothing special certainly, but had a decent variety, and got the job done. Pizza bar, pasta bar, and sandwich bar were our favorites. Never ate at the other areas, so won't comment on those.
The entertainment was varied and talented. Several different singers, a magician, two comedians, an aerialist couple, a dueling violin couple, and the ship's troupe. Something different every night.
On board activities were average. (trivia, name that tune, bingo, etc) The staff didn't exactly seem very excited to be there. (except Christine the Bingo Queen - she was great)
Plenty of hot tubs, and the pool never seemed crowded. The Thalassotherapy pool is to die for. I need one at home! Used it every day. Every lounge had entertainment throughout the evening that was very good, and danceable.
We only took shore excursions in two ports - Acapulco, MX and Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Both were well run, with great guides. We would do them again. The other ports were easy to navigate around, so we did our own tours with local taxis. The Panama Canal day was the hightlight of the cruise. I highly recommend this! It was so interesting, on many levels.
All in all, we had a very good time, enjoyed the ship, and would most certainly go with the Infinity again. We are hoping to enjoy another Celebrity ship in the near future.