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Sail Date: February 2014
Overall a marvellous trip. Buenos Aires check-in was swift and efficient an onboard within 30 minutes of arrival. Entertained in Michaels Club until cabin was ready with the offer of lunch if desired. Cabins were all ready by about 1330 ... Read More
Overall a marvellous trip. Buenos Aires check-in was swift and efficient an onboard within 30 minutes of arrival. Entertained in Michaels Club until cabin was ready with the offer of lunch if desired. Cabins were all ready by about 1330 although luggage was not delivered until much later. The overall suite experience throughout the cruise was exceptional and we believe certainly value for money. The Michaels Club staff, butler and cabin attendants all did a good job and a couple of minor issues were quickly addressed and followed up. The cruise itinerary was altered due to weather but the Captain and crew delivered what was probably the best available alternatives. The Falklands Islands visit was marred for some as another ship had already taken possession of most of the available tours but the Celebrity team secured as many spots as possible. The sights of the Falklands, Paradise Bay and Elephant Island were magic. All the crew were good with most excellent. Dined in Qsine twice because the first time was so good. The Captain and crew did a great job of keeping us informed as the itinerary had to be changed three times due to weather and operational issues. As a first time Celebrity cruiser (2 more booked this year) I will be delighted if the future cruises are of the same standard Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Antarctica was one of our must see places and is pretty much only able to be seen from a few cruise liners a couple of times a year. We chose the Celebrity Infinity to deliver our cruise needs as we are Select cruisers with Celebrity and ... Read More
Antarctica was one of our must see places and is pretty much only able to be seen from a few cruise liners a couple of times a year. We chose the Celebrity Infinity to deliver our cruise needs as we are Select cruisers with Celebrity and have cruised on the Infinity previously. The Cruise itinerary was round-trip from Buenos Aires (2-16 February 2014), featuring ports in Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; and Montevideo, Uruguay and also included cruising around Cape Horn, Chile. And in Antarctica with Paradise Bay, Gerlache Strait and the Schollart channel. We also cruised around Deception Island (instead of Elephant Island due to bad weather). We took a taxi from the hotel (Sheraton Libertador in BA) to the check-in terminal building (50 pesos) at about noon. The Embarkation Process was a bit disorganised and consisted of a very long line outside to check-in our bags, this took around ¾ of an hour, once inside the building we went through security straight away as we had priority boarding (Concierge cabin). We then had to queue again for the cruise check-in (around another 20 mins). We then needed a shuttle bus to take us to the ship which was docked several piers away, the drive through the container terminals was very interesting (like in a shoot-out movie set). Finally, we were on the ship at around 1.30pm and our room was ready, our bags arrived around 4pm. We had Concierge cabin number 8158, and it is our first time in Concierge (we obtained an upgrade when the prices dropped just after final payment was due). The cabin itself is nothing different than a standard balcony room. In my opinion, the service and extras that concierge provide extra to the balcony room are all pretty much not worth the added expense, I don’t think I would pay for it. We regularly had breakfast at Café Al Baccio (coffee and muffins), lunches were shared between the Oceanview café, the MDR and Bistro on Five, and we were always in the MDR for dinner. Food can be so subjective, but we enjoy what Celebrity offer in quality (looks and taste), quantity and variety. We usually both like to participate in the on-board activities, however, due to this itinerary with so much to see from the ship, we really only attended the Cruise Critic rollcall gatherings and as many of the trivia sessions that we could. This meant missing some of the Celebrity life lectures, of those that we did attend these were in the main interesting but, one of the three presenters was rather poor in both his delivery and his information. The entertainment was good to great depending on the act for the evening. The music around the ship was very good. We did not use any of the ship’s tours on this cruise. We were blessed by having several fantastic CC members so we elected to join the CC rollcall organised tours. One of whom (Hotshot80) had done this cruise several times already, he organised some tours himself and also helped others organise their tours using his firsthand knowledge and previous contacts. The first port of Ushuaia, we went to Martillo Island with Pira tours. This enabled 20 people to walk among the Magellanic and Gentoo penguin colonies (also some King penguins), while most visitors have to stay on the boats. We cruised around Cape Horn and then went to Antarctica for several days cruising along with Deception Island. This was due to upcoming weather making Elephant Island too rough to cruise around. Apart from the spectacular landscapes and seascapes, the oceans were teeming with wildlife, several types of whales (Humpback, Sei, Fin), Penguins, Sea lions, Seals, Dolphins, birds such as Albatross, Gulls and Skua and some Orca. The Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was the next port and Port Stanley is a lovely little place, we had a tour to Volunteer Point using Patrick’s tours (also Hotshot80). Colonies of King, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins, we were able to get very close and it was just magnificent. The car ride there (4WD) was not for the faint hearted and is an experience in itself. The next port was Puerto Madryn, we decided to stay aboard due to myself having a sore ankle, otherwise we would have toured to the Valdes Peninsula (organised by Sonomamist) where there are many sea lions and penguins. The report of the tour from friends was that it was good but a very long drive. Next was Montevideo, Uruguay (organised by Chumby and Hotshot80) where we went to the Varela Zarranz Winery and had a city tour with Flamenco tours. I didn’t partake of the winery tour but did sample some wine while waiting for the others to join me for lunch with wonderful food and more sampling of the delicious wines. We disembarked on Sunday, February 16 and did the shuttle bus back to the terminal building where we went to get a taxi back to the Sheraton Libertador. The taxis at the cruise terminal were wanting between $25 and $55 USD or 250 pesos (instead of 50 pesos). So on principal, we walked to the nearest hotel, around 10 minutes and caught a cab to the Sheraton Libertador hotel for 20 pesos. While I enjoyed the ship, it is an M class and I like the S class ships better. To me the whole solstization has not worked in the Infinity’s favour. The Cellar Masters area is underutilised and was a waste of space and I prefer the original layout with the two bars (the Martini bar was one of them). Perhaps Bistro on five should have moved to where the Martini bar is now. Despite the refurbishment, there are parts of the ship that are old and tired. The service overall was good but the service from some staff was great. Overall thoughts: The itinerary, the amazing amount of wildlife and our fellow cruise critic members (The Infinity Icebreakers) made this cruise so wonderful. Cheers Mic (and Rosie).   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
To put things into perspective I never wanted to cruise, having some pre-conceptions, not all of them positive. Overall my expectations - positive and negative - were achieved and in one or two areas, considerably exceeded - positively! My ... Read More
To put things into perspective I never wanted to cruise, having some pre-conceptions, not all of them positive. Overall my expectations - positive and negative - were achieved and in one or two areas, considerably exceeded - positively! My wife always wanted to try cruising because she knew she would be well looked after and pampered; her only reservation was possible sea sickness. But she had a BIG birthday coming and we both wanted to see the Antarctic - so, to start from the beginning: Booking: Never did we find the Celebrity website user-friendly, constantly having to "go back out and come back in". Never did our registered sign-on work. Much of the site's terminology was ambiguous so we had to several times refer to our booking agent to get clarification on some important points. For such a big company we found the quality of website surprisingly bad - or is the ambiguity on purpose? Boarding at Buenos Aires: After a 14 hour non-stop flight from London and a perfectly awful experience of getting out of Buenos Aires airport (two and a half hours of bedlam with hardly any airport or customs staff to be seen), we were not in a mood for problems getting onto the ship. Bad luck - another two hours of totally NO direction or help being given, because hardly any Celebrity or Port staff were to be seen. Even though we had paid for so-called priority booking, boarding, baggage delivery etc, nothing remotely like these things happened until in my typically fuming self, I just barged through the crowd, presented our papers to a harrassed looking Celebrity individual and with a death threat in my eyes we got through! Presumably, they were glad to get rid of us, but the ship still was somewhat late leaving because of the crowded nature of getting everyone aboard. Such an experience should NOT be part of such a holiday. That being said, disembarkation and re-boarding was a trial each time, but to be fair it is difficult to see how differently it could be handled, except by more staff and exit/entry points. Extras (1) Wine Package: We each booked a wine package but the website was nebulous as to just how, where and when this could be used, which gave us some disappointing moments. But, overall it was a good decision; the wine list was first class and we certainly saved money by not buying wines as and when. Caveat Emptor - read the small print, when you can find it! Extras (2) Aqua Class: We decided to go for this class of cabin/service and did not have one regret. The stateroom was fine although in reality, it could have been a typical American hotel room, anywhere in the world. But the highlight was the concierges and the very efficient, unobtrusive and friendly service they gave. Aqua Class also gave us exclusive access to the Blu Restaurant and this was an area where our expectations were considerably exceeded. We cannot speak too highly of the whole experience, human and gastronomic, especially as it was a come-when-you-like access, though just before showtime in the theatre, when the restaurant was busy, we did have to wait for a table a couple of times, but no more than 5 minutes. 5 gold stars! Dining outside the Blu restaurant (1 - Trellis main restaurant): We dined twice in the Trellis as guests of friends (who incidentally, were NOT allowed into the Blu restaurant on our invitation). We thought the timed sittings - 1800 or 2000 hours - were unnecessarily restrictive for totally enjoying such a pleasant location and very good food. (2 - S.S. United States speciality restaurant); Just one word - outstanding! Food, staff and ambience totally worth the $45 dollars per head cover charge, but you would not want to eat there often, with each delicious mouthful containing hundreds of delightful calories! (3 Ocean View buffet restaurant): used only a few times but usually unbearably busy, with two many individuals taking up a table alone, so always a seating problem; it could have done with better marshalling and table clearance from the staff. Gargantuan amounts of food, some gargantuan piles on plates and equally gargantuan wastage - not the best experience, as we had anticipated. Excursions (1) General: Back to the website, where not all available excursions were visible for pre-booking, which was supposedly more cost-effective than booking once on board ship. So it could be that you had to buy the experience on board and then pay more than you needed to - to Celebrity's benefit of course. One thing, do not bother trying to book locally by yourself. Celebrity and other cruise lines have bought up all the capacity so you are unlikely to be able to do anything locally while the ship is in port. This was especially so in the Falkland Islands, where the Celebrity Infinity was in port at the same time as Seabourn Quest, so something like 2400 passengers descended on Port Stanley - remember that the total population of the Islands is 2500! Comments from many others: the excursions were over-priced and some were described as poor for the experience "enjoyed". Especially for (2) below: Excursions (2): Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery: Supposedly THE place to go when docking at Puerto Madryn, but first, from our personal experience, the excursion was not available for pre-booking through the website. This, however, did not stop the need for no fewer than 24, forty-seat coaches and a number of small buses to get everyone to Punta Tombo - something around 1000 passengers!! Two and a half hours each way and as the ship was in port for only about 7 hours you only got 90 minutes or so at Punta Tombo! Result: a crowded, bad-mannered, push and shove with one or two Nationalities (who shall remain nameless!), totally lacking in any form of social grace or consideration for other people - and especially, the animals. A very bad experience for most people then, but infinitely more important, for the penguins, many of whom very visibly and audibly distressed by the Tower of Babel going on around them. So here a big pointer and plea for Celebrity Cruises please. Some of the series of interesting talks given aboard ship made a huge thing out of how environmentally-friendly Celebrity cruise ships and the company's activities etc. are. Load of rubbish as far as Punta Tombo goes! Celebrity should severely limit the number of people allowed to go there at any one time, otherwise this priceless, unique but fragile glimpse of nature could soon be irreparably ruined. Entertainment: Too may things going on at one time, but understandable with the ship at sea for all but four days and trying to cater for many needs. But when it came to priorities, we personally felt that Celebrity got it wrong. There was a fine variety show every evening with during the day, remembering where the ship was headed, totally absorbing talks about the Antactctic, its geology, geography and flora and fauna. Also talks on the various explorers who opened up the Antarctic and on the side a totally mind-blowing series of talks on astronomy. Problem? All three of those speakers had their scheduled programmes cut short because Celebrity decided people wanted more "entertainment". Did nobody remember where we were headed and how irrelevant "entertainment" may be considered by some? Words failed us. So, will we cruise again? Never, in a ship of such a size (not just Celebrity), which we felt was basically Las Vegas -on -Sea and pretty much irrelevant to such a destination as the Southern Atlantic and the ice fields. Small ships are the way to go there, but that would mean little or no, "entertainment" or dark, sexy cocktail lounges - if such things are essential to one's cruising. Each to their own of course - you pay your money and you make your choice! To end, the word "Outstanding" must be used for the ship's crew in all places. Outstanding is, however, not enough of a word for Antarctica even though seen at a distance most of the time, because of the ship's size. It was a lifetime experience - humbling, inspiring and tear-jerking all at the same time, that will be repeated as soon as possible - from a small ship. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Background Information: We are veteran cruisers, late fifties, no children, and have done many cruises over 30+ years on a variety of cruise lines (Oceania, Disney, RCI, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and a few others). This cruise (our ... Read More
Background Information: We are veteran cruisers, late fifties, no children, and have done many cruises over 30+ years on a variety of cruise lines (Oceania, Disney, RCI, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and a few others). This cruise (our 24th) was our first on Celebrity and also our first cruise that originated in South America. Cruise Itinerary: We selected this cruise, which was round-trip from Buenos Aires, based on its price and itinerary, which included two days cruising in the Antarctica region (no landings) and cruising around Cape Horn, Chile. Having traveled last summer on a fantastic Oceania Nautica cruise as far north as 80 degrees 28 minutes (near the polar ice barrier), we wanted a complimentary cruise as far south as feasible. The cruise also featured stops in Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; and Montevideo, Uruguay. Travel to/from Buenos Aires: We used award program miles to book roundtrip flights on United in business class. We flew from our home city to Houston, which was the gateway city for our 10+-hour flights to and from Buenos Aires. Both flights had delays due to mechanical issues and we also experienced long intervals of turbulence (often severe) in both directions. Hotel in Buenos Aires: We arrived two days prior to the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Libertador. We used a transfer service by bus to a central location in the city, then had a car transfer to the hotel (very reasonably priced). This hotel was centrally located and perfectly adequate for our stay. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We stayed on a concierge floor and had free breakfasts in the concierge lounge on the 21st floor, as well as a happy hour. The staff arranged a 3-hour city tour for us that was quite good. We also had an excellent dining experience in Buenos Aires at I Latina, a restaurant that has very high ratings on Trip Advisor. The tasting menu, featuring foods from many places in South America, and wine pairings from Argentina, was superb. Transfer to the ship: We took a taxi from the hotel to the check-in terminal building (a short distance from our hotel). Embarkation Process: We started the process in a long line outside to check bags, then were able to go through security almost immediately because we were booked in an Aqua Class cabin. The next line, for cruise check-in, was also very long and the person behind the counter told us we would turn in our passports to Guest Services until we reached a port in Chile. We told her we were not going to any ports in Chile and she seemed very flustered. At check-in, we were also given VIP tags, which turned out to be very fortuitous. My DH is a tech journalist and he had arranged for an interview through Celebrity with their staff members about their iLounge and Innovations store on Infinity; for that reason we got the VIP bonuses. Apparently, Celebrity is trying out the VIP process for suite guests and others who qualify and it was a lovely bonus. After getting checked in, we went into another long line for passport control, then we did turn in our passports until after our stop in the Falkland Islands. Because I walk with a cane, we were given priority in the passport line, which was very helpful. Finally, we were ready to board the ship, but where was it? At this point, we found out that you had to take a bus over to the dock area and then board the ship. Fortunately, there were no rain showers at the time, because boarding was outside. The Buenos Aires port area mixes container vessel processing with cruise ships and it looks like the cruise ships have lesser priority. Once we were on board, a crew member escorted us to Michael's Club because of the VIP tags, where we could wait until the rooms were ready. Here we met some of the wonderful staff members that we became familiar with, including Anca, Andrea and Cathy. Our room was ready around 1:30 pm and our bags finally showed up right before we sailed (after the safety drill). Ship Information: Celebrity Infinity is one of the Millennium class ships in the Celebrity fleet that has been "solsticized". The ship carries approximately 2100 passengers, with about 1,000 in the crew. The public spaces are nice and elegant, with interesting art works throughout the ship. In a few places, the ship looks like it should have some maintenance, but its appearance overall was very good. Cabin: Our cabin was on deck 9, midships, starboard side and was in the "Aqua Class" category. The midship elevators were very close by, which was convenient. We would not pay for this type of category again if we chose to cruise with Celebrity in the future. The cabin was very standard, with a small couch and desk near the balcony doors, a king bed (more like a queen bed), which was not very comfortable, and a small bathroom. There was ample storage space. The bathroom had a persistent unpleasant odor during the entire cruise, which we complained about but it never went away. Deck 9 is right below the pool deck and, fortunately, we had many days of the cruise where the pool deck was not being used due to cold temperatures. When it was warm, you could hear deck chairs being dragged across the deck and could also hear the band music in our cabin (with the balcony doors closed). Our balcony was small, but did have a regular table and comfortable chairs. The pool deck also has a large overhang over deck 9. This was a blessing when we were in Antarctica, but did restrict views from the balcony. Apparently, the Aqua Class cabin amenities include bottled water, fresh fruit and varieties of room-temperature (not iced) tea, plus you can eat in Blu. We don't use spa facilities, so we did not take advantage of any of the Aqua Class programs. These extras do not justify the extra fare, in our opinion. We also had more than our fair share of creaky bulkheads (our cabin was right by a structural section divider), a persistent sound of water pumps (for the pools above?) and an annoying moaning/whistling noise through our balcony door when the wind blew. Dining: Overall, the dining experience on Infinity was mediocre. We did not dine in the Trellis dining room at all and our three dinners in Blu were very disappointing, although the restaurant is beautiful and the staff is excellent. The food in the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was pretty good and we often ate casual meals there or, later, brought it to room when I became ill. Our best meal was in Qsine, a specialty restaurant added in 2007. This was a memorable experience, with a fun concept using iPads to order, excellent food and a spectacular view. We dined here early in the cruise, which was fortunate, as we had to cancel another specialty restaurant reservation later in the cruise because of illness. Room service was great for breakfast (very prompt and friendly delivery) but very slow for any other meal. Beverage Packages: We decided to buy the Premium beverage package in advance as it covered soft drinks, coffee and tea drinks at Cafe al Bacio, and bottled water, in addition to wines by the glass, beers and other alcoholic drinks. The wines by the glass were quite limited and seemed to be of varying quality across the ship. I enjoy red wine and would find a good Pinot Noir in one lounge, then ask for what I thought was the same wine elsewhere and end up with a very mediocre glass of wine. The coffee and tea choices were nice and Cafe Al Bacio is an extremely popular hangout on the ship. Service: Overall, the service on Infinity was extraordinary and among the best we have ever had on a ship. Everyone goes out of their way to be helpful and courteous and most crew and staff members seem genuinely happy to be there working on this ship. We especially want to thank Anca, Andrea, and Cathy and Crofton for their consideration. Our cabin steward was very nice, as was his assistant, although I think it was challenging for them when I was confined to the cabin towards the end of the cruise (more on that later). Activities and Entertainment: We did not participate in many activities on board (pretty typical for us on a cruise). We did see one show, the Pampas Devils (a dance quartet), and enjoyed it immensely. We attended one lecture and were very unimpressed with one of the the alleged "experts" on Antarctica, who prominently misspelled the name of a famous Antarctic explorer on his slides and also had many facts that were incorrect. The naturalist on board was pretty good and did point out some fascinating features and wildlife sightings during our time in Antarctica. The two-story theater on board was very nice; we also watched as much of the Super Bowl as we could tolerate in the theater (being Broncos fans) and they did a great job with special food and beverage service. We did not use the casino and only did a minimum amount of shopping on board. As part of the VIP services, we did get a tour of the engine control room and the bridge (with the Captain); these were very interesting tours, especially as we are both engineers by training. Internet package: The internet services offered on Infinity were a giant step backwards from other recent cruise experiences. DH keeps in touch for his job and we both like to contact family members and I also write a travel blog that is updated regularly. The packages were expensive, no unlimited package was offered, and the service was often extremely slow. Ports: The primary attraction on this cruise is the opportunity to see Antarctica and it was beyond description. It was very cold, cloudy and windy the day we were there (with snow and ice on the open decks), but we had plenty of wildlife sightings (whales, seals, penguins) and the scenery is spectacular in the Palmer Archipelago, through the Gerlache Strait and in Paradise Bay, off the coast of the Peninsula. We achieved a southern latitude of 64 degrees 50.4 minutes, which was a fantastic number to bookend our northern latitude limit. Our original itinerary also had us cruising by Elephant Island (famous from the failed Shackleton Endurance expedition), but a forecast of bad weather cancelled this part of the cruise. Instead, we cruised by Deception Island, an active volcano in the South Shetland Islands. The island itself was not very interesting, but we had a thrilling sighting of thousands of chinstrap penguins in the water. Our crossings of the Drake Passage were fairly mild, although very strong winds did occur the morning we arrived near Antarctica. In the other ports: We took a ship excursion in beautiful Ushuaia, Argentina, which included a catamaran visit to islands in the Beagle Channel with large sea lion and cormorant populations and a bus tour of Tierra Del Fuego National park. It was a good tour, but we regret not having gone to Martillo Island to see the penguin colonies. We chose not to go on our ship tour that we booked in the Falkland Islands because we weren't feeling well that day, but did enjoy seeing Port Stanley ( it was a long tender ride). We also had a day-long tour from Puerto Madryn to the Valdes Peninsula and saw plenty of wildlife including penguins up close, but had a mediocre lunch at an estancia. We did not leave the ship in Montevideo (not by choice). We can highly recommend the "Best of Buenos Aires" ship tour if you have a flight after 8:00 pm from EZE airport on the day of disembarkation This was one of the best excursions we have ever taken (more about it in the disembarkation summary). Illness: In 24 cruises, this is first time one of us has had a serious illness (serious enough to go to medical at least). I began feeling sick early in the second week of the cruise (sore throat, cough, other symptoms). I toughed it out for a couple of days, but finally went to the medical center right after we returned from our excursion in Puerto Madryn on February 13. At this point in the cruise, we had two more full days until we disembarked in Buenos Aires and one more port visit. I was diagnosed with influenza after a nasal swab test and was running a temperature around 101.5 degrees F. I had a flu shot in the fall of 2013 and had to fill out a form for the CDC because this was a variation of the types of flu used in those vaccines. I was also told I was confined in a mandatory quarantine in our cabin for the next 48 hours and if I did not show improvement (or my DH got ill), they might have to report it to the medical authorities in Buenos Aires. We were both given Tamiflu and began what I call "flu jail". We had a private tour with 22 other passengers from our Roll Call that we were looking forward to in Montevideo, but had to forego the experience (DH is a wonderful companion and did not feel it was appropriate for him to go on his own). After starting the Tamiflu, I felt better almost immediately and counted down the hours until I was cleared by medical, which happened with only a few hours left in the last evening of the cruise. The medical charges were $350, which we are claiming on our trip insurance. There were a variety of illnesses on this cruise that we found out about based on conversations we had with fellow passengers (before and after the quarantine), including several other people with influenza, many passengers and crew members who had another respiratory illness, some cases of Norovirus, and also some passengers (myself included) who had asthma problems throughout the cruise (my asthma is normally very well-controlled). Nine days at sea confined mostly indoors does not lend itself to a healthy ship, in my opinion. The cruise after ours (another Antarctica cruise) apparently had a statistically significant Norovirus outbreak towards the end of that cruise, necessitating later boarding for the next cruise and mandatory disembarkation of B2B passengers for the day. Apparently, I will be receiving a cruise voucher from Celebrity towards a future cruise prorated on time I spent in quarantine, but this has not yet been sent to our TA. Passengers: A few words must be said about our fellow passengers. First, our Roll Call group was fantastic and very active for almost two years prior to this cruise and we enjoyed meeting many of them and hope to see them on future cruises. The passengers were a diverse crowd, representing many countries from all over the world. We also had many passengers who were very rude and pushy and lacked common courtesy for other passengers, especially on the day we did the tour in Ushuaia (many people literally raced to the catamaran and again to the buses, leaving the less-abled passengers like myself to hope we could find a decent seat). This behavior was also evident on elevators, when disembarking buses and when getting on and off the ship. I saw quite a few women using public restrooms and not washing their hands afterwards (no wonder illnesses were spreading). There were more than a handful of people in the casino during our short time in Antarctica, which seriously begs the question as to why they were on this cruise. Disembarkation: We disembarked on Sunday, February 17 and did the bus in reverse to the terminal building, where we boarded the coach for our tour (our bags went on to the airport). I was feeling much better and we enjoyed the "Best of Buenos Aires" tour, particularly the visit to the enchanting Estancia La Mimosa north of the city. The food and wine (an amazing feast), the beautiful grounds and animals and the gaucho entertainment left everyone in a very happy mood for the drive to the airport. At the airport, our bags were sitting out in the open and were not being watched by anyone and there were no representatives from Celebrity to help people with their flights (ours were booked independently so this was not an issue, but apparently this was a problem for those who booked their flights through the cruise line). Summary: We have mixed emotions about this cruise and the trip. We enjoyed seeing Antarctica and the beautiful scenery and wildlife there and in other places in Argentina. We liked Buenos Aires and found the people to be very nice in that city. We didn't enjoy the food on Infinity (with a few exceptions) and the quarantine was not fun but the service was exceptional. Our cabin was merely average (and became quite confining after 48 hours). Our flights were problematic. We're glad we went, but we would probably not go again on this particular itinerary or if we did want to re-visit Antarctica, we might splurge on an expedition cruise. Celebrity also did not convince us they are on the "must cruise" list for the near future, but we may consider a cruise on one of the newer ships.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
Antarctica, Sailing on Celebrity’s Infinity February 16 to March 2, 2014 Plus Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls February 10 to 15, and March 2, 20a4 This is a wonderful trip and a great experience, and if this is on your bucket list, ... Read More
Antarctica, Sailing on Celebrity’s Infinity February 16 to March 2, 2014 Plus Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls February 10 to 15, and March 2, 20a4 This is a wonderful trip and a great experience, and if this is on your bucket list, GO! But, before you book you must keep in mind: Buenos Aires and Montevideo are lovely cities, however one must be prepared for poorer sectors, graffiti, litter, and crime. Many do not speak any English, i. e. Taxis, shops, restaurants Weather: Tropical hot and humid, mosquitos, damp chilling winter cold with high winds, snow, rain, and sun causing severe sun burns. Due to weather be prepared for: missed ports, itinerary changes, and heavy seas This trip was booked in March of 2012 as a cruise tour with Celebrity. After looking at prices, we found that we could do six days instead of three at the same price. We dropped the tour with Celebrity in April of 2013. Discovery Uruguay, Diego Kraidelman handled all of our ground arrangements. The price, and arrangements included all entry fees, English speaking guides, ground transportation, hotels, airline tickets to and from the falls, and dinner with tango show. We were very extremely pleased with all, and we personally would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay. Prior to booking with Diego, we had done extensive research via books and the net, and we knew we wanted to stay in the Recoleta area in a high quality hotel and we knew what sites we wanted to be included in the tours. We sent Diego a list and a suggested itinerary. Between our list, and his recommendation, we came up with the final itinerary. I would highly suggest you research prior to booking, and know what you want to see and visit, and what you are getting for your monies. One couple while in line at the Pink Palace, ask me, why we were going into this building. Another gentleman thought he should be on a private tour. Doing your research, which takes a lot of time, will avoid disappointments and afford a wonderful experience. All tours were set up as small group tours which meant that we would have groups no larger than twelve. We were only two on some days, 4 on other days, 8 on one day, and 12 at the falls. Private tours can be arranged at an additional charge. All guides spoke English. The transportation drivers do not speak English. We would highly suggest getting a translator app for you mobile phone. One couple was left at the pier due to lack of communication. Please note: that Taxi drivers also do not speak English. We reconfirmed all of our tours and excursions prior to our departure, and all went as planned. Our Trip: February 9th: United Airlines from Orlando to Houston, and then nonstop to Buenos Aires. Arriving on the 10th. Caution, United has a very unusual boarding procedure, and Economy Plus, although paying additional fees, gets no boarding priority. February 10th : Arrived in Buenos Aires. Driver was waiting outside of customs with sign. Taking us to Buenos Aires Grand Hotel. The Grand is only a year old and was wonderful. Staff was outstanding. Room was great! Caution, they do not provide tissues or wash cloths. At 1:00 PM in the pouring rain, we were meet by our guide Sebastian for a three hour walk of the Recoleta Area. Tired and wet, we had dinner at the hotel. February 11th: Meet by our guide Sebastian at 1 PM. We were off to Evita’s Museum. We would say, this is a must. Our guide’s family has lived in the Recoleta Area of Buenos Aires for many years. He gave us a fantastic insight on the life and style of Evita. We were also to see Carlos Gardel Museum, however when we arrived it was closed. We went instead to a special library which used to be a theater with outstanding murals. A library is actually a book store. We had empanadas in a local eatery, and went to a fantastic leather shop, Los Corrales. We had dinner that evening at an Argentinian Steak House, recommended by our hotel, La Cabrera. It was just OK! February 12th: At 2PM we were off to Iguazu Falls with another couple. Stored some of our luggage at the Grand. We were picked up promptly by our driver and taken to the local airport. We arrived at falls about 6 PM, and again our driver was awaiting our arrival. Our hotel was the Panoramic Hotel. It was OK, but in hind sight, I would have upgraded to the Grand. It did have a great view of three countries; Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. February 13th : At 7:30 AM our van arrived to take us to the falls. We had a full day tour of the falls with 10 other person. We were accompanied by an English speaking guide. We were able to see all three trails. It is indeed spectacular and should not be missed. Be prepared for a lot of walking and getting wet viewing the falls. February 14th: We again picked up at the hotel at 7:30 AM. We went back to the falls and did a boat ride in the river and under the falls. We upgraded to a longer boat ride at the falls. In hind sight, we do not know if this was necessary. Caution, you get soaking wet all over including you shoes. They do give you a wet sack to place your personal articles in. If you want to take photos, advise a water proof camera. Getting up and down to the boats is a lot of steps and sometime areas have no hand rails. It also rained that day, the walk ways were slippery, and we had two people fall in our group. At 2 PM our driver took us directly from the falls to the airport. Fortunately, we had a complete set of dry clothes and shoes to change into. We flew back to Buenos Aires that evening, our driver again was waiting at the Airport, and again we stayed at the Grand. It was Valentine’s Day, the restaurants were booked. We just had a sandwich at the bar. If you’re going to be there on Valentine’s Day, make sure you have a reservation. February 15th: We were off (4 in total) to a full day tour of Buenos Aires, Cemetery, and La Boca with our private guide Patricia Kanelson. It was a fantastic tour. We were supposed to go Puerto Madero but our group spent far too much time taking photos in the Cemetery and we ran out of time. One of the highlights of the day in addition to the cemetery was La Boca where we had lunch in a local restaurant that featured a tango show and more. La Boca is a great area to pick up gifts, however be very watchful of your pockets, and pocket books in this area, and do not wonder off. That evening we went to a tango show. We had some Great difficulties. The driver was late and did not appear to know where he was going. It took us forever to get to the restaurant. They wanted to seat us in a corner and we refused the table. After a few words, we got a good table. The tango lesson was a bit of a joke. Dinner was good, and the show was outstanding. We were in a small intimate restaurant, not the typical theater which holds a couple hundred people, like the ship’s tour. The show was the story of the tango, and the stage was close to our table. The performers actually danced in the aisle next to our table at times. Diego’s people booked this for us, however all of the arrangements were made by the tango restaurant, such us pick up etc. Make sure you get a contract name, number and the name of the restaurant so if you have a problem you can call. February 16th: 12 PM off to the port two meet 4 of our friends who we were sailing with, and again our driver was there awaiting out departure. February 16th and 17th: We were at sea. The beyond the podium lectures were very good. On the 17th we had the 1st of our three night dinner package in the SS United States restaurant. It was outstanding. February 18th: We were informed of our first itinerary change due to adverse weather conditions. We were not going to Ushuaia on the 20th but going on the 23th. We were skipping Elephant Island, however we adding a port in Argentina. Instead of arriving in the Falklands on the 25th, we were arriving tomorrow. This announce was made at 1 PM. We immediately left lunch and email Patrick Watts whom we had a private tour with in the Falklands to Volunteer Point. He emailed back, and stated due to another ship being in port, he could no longer accommodate us. Shortly thereafter, we got another email stating he managed to get a few vehicles, and would accommodate us and our friends, because we were his first bookings. He took 18 out of a group of 68. Advice, double book early with Patrick, and the ship. The ship also had to cancel many reservations because of lack of available vehicles. February 19th: We had a great trip to Volunteer Point with Patrick Watts. Would highly recommend. We saw hundreds of Penguins including the King’s. Windy and cold—need warm clothes, hats and gloves. Plus the drive is long and bumpy. February 20th: At sea with another itinerary change. Overnight in Ushuaia, added sailing the Beagle Channel, and Elephant Island is back on. Puerto Madryn is cancelled along with the added port. We now have no port days after Ushuaia until the March 1st in Montevideo. A fuel tanker hit the Infinity while refueling in the Falklands. It damaged a davit for a life boat. We were about 9 hour late leaving the Falklands. This was the reason for the new itinerary. February 21st & 22nd: Beagle Channel, this AM which was fantastic. Viewed from our aft cabin, however it again was very cold. Ushuaia, arriving on the 21st at 10 PM and staying over until 8 PM the following day. Again, all of the tours were fouled up. We had again another ship in port. Again, if you’re doing a private tour, I would double book. Our in Celebrity Tour (Ushuaia in depth) which was to leave at 9:00 AM, left at 7:00 AM. It was a waste of monies in my opinion. It was very cold and the bus windows were all fogged up. It was primarily a bus look and see. Lunch at a local restaurant was interesting. We had dinner at Qsine’s this evening which was wonderful, however the restaurant was freezing cold. Make sure you book this restaurant in warm weather. It actually closes while in Antarctica because of the cold. It is on deck 11 in an all glass area. February 23rd: Sailed around Cape Horn which was fantastic. Again extremely cold and windy. February 24th: Schollart Channel, and Paradise Bay. Paradise Bay was spectacular. Again very cold outside. Dressed in layers, viewed from our balcony on the aft coming in often to get warm. Even are friends from Wisconsin were chilly, and had warm clothing on. We had about 2” of snow on our balcony. February 25th: Elephant Island. It was very over cast and foggy, we had virtually no visibility. Just as we were leaving the fog and clouds cleared so that we were able to get some photos. February 26th to February 28th: We were at sea with no sights. On one of these day, we had extremely high seas. Ship at bags all over; stairs, elevators, restrooms, etc. On the 27th we had the last of our specialty restaurant. We ate again in the SS United Stated, and had an outstanding meal. March 1st: Montevideo, Uruguay. Went on a private wine tour with Ryan Hamilton. The vineyards, tour, and tastings were nice. The grounds of the vineyards were beautiful. Lunch was very good in a restaurant near the beach in town. This tour was almost $200 per person. We and our friends felt it was extremely over priced for what we got. After the tour we roamed around the market area. We found the market area very run down as you started up the hill. We were warned to stay with the crowds, and not wonder down empty streets. I would highly suggest a tour out of the city to see the country side. March 2nd: We disembarked the ship and our driver picked us up at 9 AM. This was part of our package with Diego. We were then deposited at the Obelisco Hotel, our day hotel. This hotel is less expensive however we would not want to stay there for an extended period. We had almost wished we had spent the monies to upgrade, although we were only in the room for a short time. At 10 AM we were picked up for our walking tour by Sebastian our guide. We had a tour of the Pink Palace, which is only open to the public on Sunday. Then we were off to the San Telmo flea market. What a treat! Blocks and blocks of tables with all kinds and sorts to goods; from junk to valuable antiques. This too is only open on Sunday. It is very crowded, and has lot of pick pockets so you must be very careful. We were accompanied the entire time by Sebastian our guide, who bargained for us, and also paid in pesos so we did not have to show are American dollars. There were eight in all. The streets are cobblestones and at times walking is somewhat difficult. At 3 PM we started back to our day hotel, and ran across a couple doing the tango on the street. We arrived back at the hotel with our Wisconsin friends in time to shower, and change for our long flight home. At 5:00 Patricia Kanelson who arranged all of our ground arrangement, a personal friend of Diego’s, stopped at the hotel with driver who was taking us to the airport. She made sure the driver new which Air Lines we were headed to. We caught our 10:30 PM flight home, and arrived home in Melbourne, FL at 3:00 PM on March 3rd. In conclusion, we were extremely happy with the arrangements made by Diego through Discovery Uruguay. Throughout the planning process, which was entailed, Diego was extremely gracious and helpful at every turn. I would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay. The disappointment that were encountered by others in our group, we found to be from lack of understanding of what they were to receive. They appeared to have no idea as to what they were doing, or what they had paid to visit. Although, we had some private tours, this was not promised. Private tours can be arranged. Patricia Kanelson who arranges all for Diego is wonderful. You can confirm all prior to arrival with Patricia at pkanelson@yahoo.com In ending this was a special and wonderful trip. Antarctica is truly a special place. Cruising on the Infinity was great, however this is a truly different experience, and cannot be compared to any of our past sailings. Patricia and Sebastian with Discovery Uruguay were outstanding, and tried to please all. I would highly recommend Discovery Uruguay. Please feel free to email if you desire additional information at jim816@aol.com Johnny and Sandy   Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
Around the Horn and Argentina, Uruguay and Chile We had a great three weeks in the southernmost of South America, which included a two week cruise on the Celebrity Infinity. Our last trip to South America was via Infinity in December 2011 ... Read More
Around the Horn and Argentina, Uruguay and Chile We had a great three weeks in the southernmost of South America, which included a two week cruise on the Celebrity Infinity. Our last trip to South America was via Infinity in December 2011 on a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal and down the West Coast of South America to Valparaiso, Chile. On that earlier trip, we had found that the countries that we visited were more different from each other than we had anticipated. As in this trip, we found similarities, but each was different in some way. The three southern most countries of South America, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile are all countries with predominately people of European origin, as opposed to countries like Peru, Ecuador and Columbia, which have a significant Native American or mestizo population. All three had large number of immigration from Spain, Italy, Britain and Germany, with a heavy influence by the first two countries. Further, Argentina has a large Jewish population. All three countries remind you of Europe far more than Peru or Mexico. All the countries have a high level of education, with a literacy rate comparable to Europe or the USA. All three countries, as most of the former Spanish colonies achieved their independence about two hundred years ago, when Spain’s grip on its colonies was loosened by Napoleon Bonaparte’s takeover of Spain. All three have republics that are similar in structure to the government of the USA. However, each has experienced military takeovers from time to time since their independence. In planning for this trip and cruise, we decided to take the cruise from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, so we could spend some days pre-cruise in Buenos Aires. We had already been to Valparaiso and Santiago on the 2011 trip. Delta had a relatively good rate for the open-jaw flights and that is our preferred airline. After researching what to see in Buenos Aires and hotels, we elected to go with a bed and breakfast in an excellent location. We arrived on January 1 and stayed in El Jardin del Tango, a bed and breakfast. It is just a couple of blocks from two Metro stations and walking distance from Ricoleta and the central district. Our Bed and Breakfast, El Jardin Del Tango El Jardin Del Tango has to locations, close to each other. We booked Casa Jasmin and took the option not to share the sole bathroom for the apartment. We had the apartment to ourselves. It had a kitchen, bathroom, living room, two full bedrooms and another small bedroom. Price was excellent. Location was great with easy access to the Metro or walking to many areas in the city. The apartment is located on the sixth floor of an apartment building. It was like staying in a middle class Buenos Aires apartment, which gave us a sense of living there. The refrigerator was stocked with juices, milk, yogurt, melon, eggs and more. There were cereals, coffee, tea and bread. Rachael brought us bananas, since I mentioned that I liked bananas. We made friends with the owner, Rachael. She was great company. Also, she gave us many tips on getting around the city as well as booking our tango show. She spent much time just enjoying our company and pointing out free walking tours, as well as places to see in the city. She showed us bus 29 which cost 35 cents each to go to la Boca. We felt like we made a friend in Rachel as well as had a more authentic Argentine experience. There were inexpensive restaurants in the neighborhood as well as markets. I purchased two bottles of wine for six dollars. Rachel introduced us to Mate, a kind of herbal South American drink that reduces appetite. We tried it and Ginny liked it more than I did. It is expensive in the USA, but relatively inexpensive in South America. I would recommend El Jardin del Tango for a family. We had the entire apartment for $80 per night that would have slept at least 5 persons. It was not a luxury hotel, but it was spacious, comfortable with a great location. Also, Rachel was our friend in Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES The B&B was walking distance from the center of the city, which included the Casa Rosada (The pink house- Argentina’s White House); the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral; the Obelisk of Buenos Aires on 9 de Julio Avenue, which was once the widest avenue in the World; the Congress building and other historical and important buildings. Also, we walked to Ricoleta the afternoon of the first day. Other areas of the city were La Boca, which the original port area of the city and has many colorful houses and a pedestrian street. The Caminito is where tango artists perform and tango is performed in the street. Between La Boca and the city center is San Telmo. San Telmo is another area where tango dancing takes place. It is also the site of a famous antiques market. Another area of the city is Palermo, an upscale residential area with many parks, the zoo and botanical gardens. Palermo is not very close to the city center. Retiro is an area between Ricoleta and the Puerto Madero Waterfront. Streets in Retiro include Santa Fe, Córdoba, and Libertador Avenues, pedestrian Florida Street (the shops are a big draw for tourists). The Plaza San Martín is located in Retiro, as well as many top hotels and some embassies. Also, Galerías Pacífico, a fancy modern mall in a 19th Century building remolded in the 1940s is in Retiro. The Puerto Madero Waterfront is next to Retiro and not far from the city center. It is composed of a renovated waterfront area with many restaurants. Our first day in Buenos Aires was January 1. I am not sure when January 1 arrived on our flight, since the pilot did not announce the New Year (no champagne either). Buenos Aires is two hours ahead of Eastern time, so we had little jet lag, but since we didn’t sleep much on our flight, we were a bit tired, so we took a nap after checking in El Jardin del Tango before walking to Ricoleta, probably about a mile away. On the way to Ricoleta, we saw trees planted along the street with names in memorial. We learned later than we had passed by the site of the terror bombing of a Jewish Community Center in 1994. The bombing has been attributed to Iran or Hezbollah. Some in Buenos Aires think the bombing may be related to the center’s investigations on former NAZI’s in South America. We were told that Argentina has about a million Jewish people of its 35 million people. Ricoleta was clearly a cemetery for important people. There were many elaborate and stately tombs. Eva Peron’s tomb was a modest tomb for the Duarte family. After visiting the cemetery, we walked toward the Puerto Madero Waterfront (through the Retiro district). It was filled with expensive hotels and other important buildings. It was hot and we finally found a gas station were we could find some water. Rachel had advised us of many nice restaurants in the Waterfront area, but it took a while to arrive there. We finally found the area and it was a nice area with a canal, boats docked there and restaurants on both sides of the canal. We were hungry and stopped at Il Gatto, which is a chain restaurant in Argentina with Italian style food. The food was reasonably good, although more expensive, probably due to the location of the restaurant. We used my credit card, since I needed to acquire the local pesos. That fact made it more expensive in itself. The Argentine Peso is suffering from 25% or more inflation, per year and the government has currency controls that have created a huge blue (black) market in the country for US dollars. The official rate for one dollar is 5.6 Argentine Pesos. The blue market rate is almost one to ten. Restaurants and businesses will routinely take dollars at close to or at ten pesos to the dollar (probably not reporting the exchange). There are currency exchanges that operate both openly and somewhat openly. The somewhat open ones are called cuervas and located in areas that can be risky to enter. The open exchanges seem to operate with impunity, but they are raided by the police occasionally. The Argentines tell you that the raids are a joke and for show, since the police are likely bribed to allow the exchanges to operate. In any event, we managed to exchange a fair amount of dollars which save us mucho dinero. If you plan to visit Argentina, use your credit card as little as possible. Take cash and go to some effort to find an exchange and get the blue rate. The currencies of Uruguay and Chile are stable and not a problem, so we used our credit cards there. We returned to our B&B by taking the Metro. We slept through the night, since we had air conditioning. Rachel told us that temperatures had exceeded 100 degrees for some days prior to our arrival. Sections of the city had lost power (brown outs), some areas for several days at a time. Apparently, brown outs are a routing problem in the city. Buenos Aires is a beautify city (so called Paris of South America). The city has some beautiful bones, with many magnificent homes with late 19th-early 20th Century architecture. It will remind you of Paris or Barcelona; however it is rough around the edges. We walked extensively in the city in all the areas mentioned before. Most of the city seems to need infrastructure improvements. We saw many sidewalks and streets that appeared to be torn up for the likely placement or repair of subsurface power, cable or water lines, yet filled with dirt or potholes that were safety issues. It wasn’t third world level, but it wasn’t pretty. Also, some of the areas that we walked through during the daytime were not advisable for nighttime. One area that we discovered that was almost scary was the area past the soccer stadium between La Boca and choripan. We started to walk there and decided out of caution to hail a taxi. Don’t get me wrong, we very much enjoyed Buenos Aires, but the city of 13 million people has a million homeless people. Many live in abandoned buildings. We were shown one abandoned building, with great architecture across the street from the Argentine Congress building that is full of squatters. The second day, we had planned to 11am free walking tour, but it rained until about Noon, so we stayed until after lunch and then took Bus 29 (near our B&B) for 35 cents apiece to La Boca. Rachel had advised us about this bus (public transportation). The bus was packed with locals, so we had to stand most of the trip, but it was good exposure to local conditions. The people of Buenos Aires are great. We loved the people. They were friendly and while most couldn’t speak English, they worked with my poor Spanish and sign language to be patient and assist us. La Boca was interesting. It had many colorful buildings, some painted concrete, some with tin painted many bright colors. We enjoyed waking around the area, browsing in shops, watching tango dancers. We had a nice lunch in La Vieja Rotiseria at Magallanes 869 in La Boca. The food was very good and the restaurant had live tango dancing. We each had a fresh salad and a chorizo sandwich, referred to as choripan. After departing from La Boca, we decided to walk to San Telmo, but the area was extremely squalid and we started to be concerned for our safety, so we hailed a taxi and went to Palermo. Palermo is an upscale residential area with parks. It is on the other side of the city center. Taxis are inexpensive in Buenos Aires and we paid about $15 for the ride. We had the taxi driver drop us off near the Botanical Gardens, which we wanted to see. Unfortunately the gardens were closed, due to the rain in the morning. Also, the Japanese Gardens and Zoo were closed due to the rain in the morning. We didn’t understand why the facilities were closed, since the rain did not seem that hard and had stopped hours before. We did see the Botanical Gardens through the wrought iron fence. It included many unusual plants and a lot of cats. We had not seen a lot of cats in Buenos Aires, but had seen many stray dogs lingering in the city. After visiting Istanbul, Ukraine and Greece a few months ago, where we saw cats all over the city, we concluded that Argentines tend to be dog people, not cat people like the Greeks, Turks and Ukrainians. We took the subway from Palermo (green line-Plaza Italia Station) to the Plaza de Mayo, at the city center and saw the Cathedral, the tomb of Jose San Martin (the George Washington of Southern South America), the Casa Rosada, the building which was the Spanish colonial capitol as well as first Argentine capitol building. We then walked up Avenue de Mayo toward the Plaza of the Republic, were we encountered the wide Avenue 9 of July, the widest in the World (except for a new one in Brazil). We continued walking toward Pasteur Street and our B&B. We ate dinner at a pizza restaurant in the neighborhood for a modest amount. The third day, we took the Buenos Aires Free Tour (www.bafreetour.com/english-home), which started at 11am at the Plaza del Congreso. The tour was popular and over 50 persons were there. We met several persons that were going on our Infinity cruise. Our guide was Maggie and she was an excellent guide. She provided in-depth background on the history and cultural points of the places we visited. We walked over some of the same places that we had seen the previous day, but provided an in detail history or background of important buildings. She did very well, especially considering the number of people on the tour. She explained important background on Argentine historical events, including the background on the protestors called the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Grandmothers of the 300. These groups seek to find about 300 missing children who were generally adopted soon after being born to mothers in prison or camps that were later disappeared during the military dictatorship of the 1976 and 1983 period. The Grandmothers protest every Thursday afternoon in the square in front of the Casa Rosada. A bit of humor, Maggie informed us while on the wide avenue looking at a building that had the image of Eva Peron holding a microphone, that it was not a man eating a hamburger. Apparently, a foreign tourist mistook Eva’s image as that. The tour lasted about 2.5 hours. The walking tour was excellent and free, but I did leave Maggie a nice tip. We had a nice late lunch (great and inexpensive meals are available if you can use the blue market pesos). During the tour, close to Plaza de Mayo, we saw another demonstration by a union. I think we saw such demonstrations every day we were in the city. Maggie told us they were common and she had seen six demonstrations in one day. Apparently, the unions are seeking to flex their political influence. Maggie said that the government wants to avoid anything that reminds people of the military takeover, when such demonstrations were routinely crushed. That evening we attended the Tango Porteno show located next to the Teatro Colon (beautiful opera house). Link at http://tangoporteno.com.ar We had Rachel book us dinner at platea level (seats were excellent, although not as good as the executive seats). The dinner was excellent. Service and food were excellent. Further, our waiter kept filling up our wine glasses before we could empty them. The show did not start until 10:15pm, but that allowed us to enjoy our meal. The show was very professional. The singing, dancing, production and set were superb. I highly recommend Tango Porteno. After the show we walked back to the B&B. Rachel had advised us that the streets were safe, but to use the main street of Avenue Corrientes. It was about midnight and many people were out on the street, visiting clubs, restaurants and enjoying themselves. Argentines are very much night people. The fourth day, we visited the Retiro area, but walking there from our B&B. We did a lot of walking in Buenos Aires since our B&B was at a good location. We were in search of the El Ateneo bookstore, which is a famous bookstore and coffee shop located in a former theatre called “Teatro Gran Splendid.” The first level seating was removed and in its place book shelves were installed, however the boxes on the higher levels are still intact. We found cook books there for local cusine, as well as more paperbacks to read on our trip. We then walked to the Galerías Pacífico, an upscale shopping mall in an old building with beautiful frescoes on the inside of the central cupola. We found more cookbooks and had a beer. From there we took a taxi to our empanada making experience. It was located in Palermo-Hollywood. We booked the event through viator (see link below), but the event was conducted by “The Argentine Experience.” Our hosts were from Britain and Argentina. The evening was quite a treat for us. We enjoyed making our own empanadas as well as eating them. Also, we had a fantastic steak dinner that was one of the best steaks that I have every eaten. During the event, we had discussions of local customs as well as tips on cooking. We enjoyed meeting and socializing with our table mates. It was a great way to spend the evening in Buenos Aires. http://www.viator.com/tours/Buenos-Aires/Buenos-Aires-Dining-Experience-Empanada-Making,-Steak,-Wine,-Alfajores-and-Mate/d901-5653EXPERIENCE?aid=se1 CELEBRITY INFINITY On January 5, our ship, Celebrity Infinity was in port and we were scheduled to board that afternoon. We generally try to board the ship around noon, but Celebrity had emailed to us a message that boarding would not start until 3pm. I was skeptical about this, since on earlier cruises, we had received a similar message and still checked in about noon. Still, we decided to arrive a little early, which turned out to be 2:15. Upon arrival, it was difficult to see where we needed to go. We did find a Celebrity sign, but still had to ask where to drop the luggage. In most cruise ports, there are usually porters right there to take your luggage. However, we did find the baggage drop off, do so and the baggage handler would not take my tip. He was not insulted by the tip, just didn’t feel entitled to it. From there, we still had no idea where to go. Others waiting for Celebrity Infinity were in the same state. We finally made our way into the seating area, which was jammed with people. Apparently, there were three ships boarding that day. Infinity was the last one leaving (we departed the next day), so the other two ship’s passengers were given priority to check-in. We found a seat in about 10 minutes and waited for something good to happen. I did wander up to the check-in entrance when I saw someone with a Celebrity paddle. I was told that we would be checking in at 3pm. Yes, it appears that Celebrity’s email was correct after all. No reason to get angry, my fault for getting there early. Slowly, we noticed that other passengers were clearing out of the waiting area checking in with the other to cruises. Finally, I noticed at about 3pm the Celebrity paddle moving and people moving through to check-in. We moved out smartly and went upstairs to find people in line to check-in. We were elite and the elite line was a bit shorter, which was nice. We checked in within 45 minutes were on the ship around 4pm. We heard later from other passengers that some took two or three hours to check-in. The main problems seemed to be the small size of the facility and a lack of direction for people entering the port drop off area. Our check-in was not so bad, but I had to ask for guidance several times. I still do not understand why it took some people three hours to check-in if they arrived after 3pm? Celebrity apologized for the delays and gave every passenger $20 of on board credit for the inconvenience. We had cabin 7171, which is an angled balcony was the same cabin we had on the Panama Canal cruise in 2011. Celebrity had replaced the small crack in the light cover in our bathroom since 2011. The ship appeared to still be in good condition, with a little bit of rust on the ship’s exterior here and there. Our luggage was delivered fairly quickly and we unpacked in preparation for our 6pm dinner. Our assigned table was a table for twelve with only two other persons in attendance. Over an hour later four more persons showed up (they were very late every night we were at that table). The other couple there was asked to move to another table with friends. The apologized for moving, but we didn’t blame them. Apparently four persons never showed up at the table and four more persons were constantly late. We decided to ask to move and the maître-de asked us to wait one more night, telling us that there were 12 persons booked for that table. The next night, no one but us was at the table at 6:15, so we were moved to table 102. That proved to be great for us, since we dined with four wonderful people. Dave and Judy from Buffalo and Lars and Birte from Denmark were our dinner companions. We became friends and hope to see each other again in the future. The table conversation frequently erupted in laughter. We looked forward to dinner and the great companionship of table 102. TIGRE The next day, we were still in Buenos Aires. We had booked a Celebrity excursion to Tigre. Tigre is about 60 miles north of Buenos Aires in a region with a delta and people living on one of the many channel of that river delta. The tour was described, as follows: Tigre Delta & River Cruise BA03 Buenos Aires, Argentina OVERVIEW: Depart from Pier and coach travelling to the northern part of the city en route to San Isidro. Visit the Cathedral before arriving at the town of Tigre. Board a motor launch for a private guided cruise through the green labyrinth of channels and streams. HIGHLIGHTS: - Main Plaza at San Isidro- Private guided motor launch tour of Tigre Delta and its islands - Great photo opportunities NOTES: - Shorts or short skirts are not permitted in the Cathedral. The boat tour was with Sturia. We learned that about 3000 persons live in the delta with more than 5000 waterways. After the boat ride, we visited San Isidro, a small city north of Buenos Aires. The city is full of upscale homes and a Cathedral, which we visited. This tour was a pleasant change from our first four days in Buenos Aires, which involved a lot of walking. It would probably not be ideal for someone with only one or two days in the city, but for us it was a nice tour. In planning for this cruise, I set out months ago to organize good private tours, when they seemed to be a better value than Celebrity’s excursions. I consulted someone on cruise critic that I knew had done the same cruise. That person recommended a tour company named Patagonia Shorex hereafter PS. I usually research prices with more than one tour company, but PS came highly recommended. I set out to organize tours on the cruise critic roll call. It finally became apparent to me that PS’s prices were significantly out of line with other tour groups. I eventually dropped PS, due to their pricing and the fact that I did not have enough persons signing up for their tours. I have learned from some that took PS’s tours that they were excellent. I am sure they are a quality firm. However, their prices were just not competitive. We joined a tour group known at Herbanrenewal. Kathy from Maryland had organized these tours. Kathy and her friend Dani became our friends and we enjoyed their company very much. We were on tours at Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt. The Puerto Madryn tour was with Nievemar Tours, organized by Eric and Paula (also in our group in these tours). The other three tours were with SouthExcursions. We also had a private tour at the end of our cruise with SouthExcursions for Valparaiso, Casablanca and Santiago. The links for SouthExcursions and Nievemar are below: sales2@southexcursions.com www.SouthExcursions.com http://www.nievemartours.com.ar/pags_en/nievemar.html MONTEVIDEO Our first port after leaving Buenos Aires was Montevideo, the capitol of Uruguay. Our tour was with SouthExcursions and included a visit to a winery: Montevideo Highlights and Vineyard 6.5 hrs Montevideo is a charming city with pleasant 19th and early 20th century buildings, beautiful parks and historic monuments. Your highlights tour includes the Old City and waterfront area where you will see the German battleship the Graff Spee that was held here during World War II, Constitution Square, the Cathedral and Colonial Town Hall, and Independence Square - at the center of which stands a monument dedicated to national hero José Gervasio Artigas. Visit the Government House and the Congress Building constructed between 1908 and 1925 with local marble and 12 different types of wood. Drive through the Prado neighborhood – where you’ll find one of the oldest parks in the city that features the famous sculpture La Diligencia, Monument to the last Charruas Indians, and the Rose Garden. Continue to the Vineyard. Stimulated by the love of the countryside and its products, Uruguay boasts an impressive wine making tradition. At the vineyard you will enjoy a wine making tour that includes sampling. From the vineyard you’ll drive back to Montevideo and through the Batlle and Ordonez Parks, passing by the Obelisk, La Carreta Monument (Covered Wagon) and the Soccer Stadium - site of the first World Soccer Cup organized by FIFA. Continue travelling through the Carrasco residential area with its magnificent private residences and the Hotel Casino Carrasco - an imposing building overlooking the coast and filled with tradition and history. The return drive will be along the coast to see the long stretches of world-class beaches. Tour concludes at the Pier. The cost of the tour was $80 per person. There was a little rain early in the tour, while we were walking through downtown Montevideo, but didn’t bother us much, since I can hold an umbrella in one hand and take photos in the other. The visit to the covered wagon monument was a depiction of a large ox drawn bronze covered wagon. Uruguay was similar to Argentina, but we never saw the signs of massive homelessness. Also, the currency was stable. Uruguay’s ethnic mix was heavy on Spanish and Italian, probably more Spanish than Italian. Uruguay is a small country of about 4 million people between Brazil and Argentina. Its territory was once more dominated by the Portuguese, but the Spanish moved in and gradually took over at the dominant colonial power. After independence, Uruguay was caught between the two larger countries for a while, but emerged as an independent country. When planning this trip, I considered visiting Colonia de Sacramento, which was an Old Portuguese fort city and is a world heritage site. The lengthy travel from Montevideo to Colonia just seems a bit much. Also, we considered taking the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, but didn’t want to get up early to take the 8:30 ferry. Also, the cost of the ferry was a factor. We decided to take the city tour with a visit to the winery. We enjoyed the tour and the winery visit was fun. They served empanadas with the wine, so we didn’t need to buy lunch. Returning to the ship, we were able to enjoy the elite happy hour for those who have taken enough Celebrity cruises. The happy hour is from 5-7pm at deck 11, the Constellation Room. We usually met Kathy and Dani there for a few glasses of wine. This benefit is nice and saves us from spending more on alcohol during the cruise. Also, we get to socialize with friends. PUNTA DEL ESTE The next day our port of call was Punta Del Este. That port was a tender port, but we managed to get to shore despite some waves. We arrived to catch our tender early and no one was waiting for a tender. That had never happened on any of our prior Celebrity cruises. However, the ship had a lot of South Americans and Europeans that dined late and perhaps decided to sleep in that morning. Punta Del Este a one of the prime toni resort locations in South America. It was definitely an upscale resort with lots of expensive homes. We took a bike tour with biketoursurguay, the link is: www.biketoursuruguay.com We did a bike tour of about 7 miles around the peninsula encompassing the prime real estate of the city. The tour was $35 per person and about 10 of us look the tour with two guides, one at the front of our group and the other at the rear, making sure no one lagged behind. We took the Peninsula Tour, described below: Peninsula Tour Going along and stopping in the most emblematic and cultural areas of Punta Del Este. Time to hydrate, enjoy and contemplate: Monument: La Mano Brava Beach Ship Wreck El Emir Beach Punta Vapor English Beach Punta Salina Great Britain Square - Battle of Rio de la Plata - Graf Spee Punta del Este Lighthouse - First school in Punta del Este Rosa de los Vientos Candelaria Church Punta del Este Port - Sea Lions Mansa Beach Boardwalk 'La Pastora' Conrad Hotel. The tour was very scenic. We saw the site of the sinking of the Graf Spee by the Royal Navy in WWII, the quaint Lighthouse and nearby church. We saw the famous hand sticking up in the sand. The beaches were beautiful, and the tour allowed us to easily see the city. It was a good option for this port, plus we got a little exercise. PUERTO MADRYN After a sea day, our next port was Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Our tour was to the Peninsula Valdes with Nievemar Tours, which was arranged by Eric and Paula. The tour was a full day tour and cost $100 per person. We traveled extensively over gravel roads to see much wildlife. We probably spent about half our time traveling. However, if you want to see the animals that is what you need to do. There are basically two options at Puerto Madryn. Peninsula Valdes or Punta Tombo. Punta Tombo has a colony of Magellanic Penguins, but we had plans to see the same penguins at Punta Arenas, so we elected to go with Peninsula Valdes. The Peninsula is actually a large ranch, which included some mining; however there are animal preserves which protect the animals. Our group included Eric and Paula, Mike and Pam, Wing and her Mom, Kathy and Dani, Kathy and Lloyd as well as Ginny and I. It was great company. On the drive to the first preserve, we saw herds of guanaco, an animal that is from the camel family, but about the size of an alpaca. We saw a bird that is in the roadrunner family, but larger. The first preserve was to see Magellan Penguins. We were able to get very close to some of the penguins. There were about a hundred of them that we could see. You could see how they burrow into the earth to create a nest. There were a few chicks, or young penguins, but the chicks were closer to being full grown, however, you could still see they did not have the adult coloration. Next, we visited another area overlooking a beach where we could see elephant seals. We were told by our guide that these seals are able to dive hundreds of feet in the ocean, far deeper than a nuclear submarine. Apparently, scientists have attached sensors and GPS devices that have proven the animals can dive over a thousand meters deep in the ocean. Our reviewing stands were not as close as with the penguins, but with our telephoto lenses, we were able to take great photos. The last animal preserve was one filled with hundreds of sea lions. It was mating season, we were told, and it was noisy out there with the sea lions. After visiting all these preserves, we stopped at a former whaling town on the peninsula that now specializes in eco-tourism, with boat tours to see the whales. We had a late lunch of fish and fries, which was good. All the seafood we had in South America was excellent, especially in Chile. Our mini-bus made its way back to the port and had about 40 minutes to get to the ship when we stopped at the entrance to the port. Apparently our driver was not in the union and could not drive through the port security gate. We had to wait for another bus to come by from the same company with a union driver. Our guide vented about how corrupt the country was, mentioning that when Juan Person took over he nationalized the railroads and quadrupled the employment within three years, consequently bleeding the rail roads of funds, with the consequences that the current state of the railroads in Argentina is very poor. We learned that Puerto Madryn was originally settled about 150 years ago by Welsh settlers. Apparently, many still speak the ancient language as spoken in the 19th Century. There is a Welsh festival scheduled for next year in the city. CAPE HORN After another day at sea, we had a big event; our ship circumnavigated Cape Horn, which is in Chile. Cape Horn is a group of islands, some of which appear to be quite large. The weather for this event at about 4pm was excellent. We rounded the horn and saw the Chilean light house and monument, which are not on the Cape Horn island, but over a mile from the cape. Cape Horn is less than 400 miles from Antarctica. Temperatures were in the 40s and the wind was very strong, probably 40 mph. Transiting Cape Horn is no big deal these days, with steel hulled ships and modern power, but I remember reading sea faring books in my youth when sailing ships would round the horn in stormy weather at some risk. USHUAIA The next day we docked at Ushuaia, Argentina. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in Argentina, located on the island of Terra Del Fuego (land of fire). Magellan called the island that when came through on his circumnavigation of the World. Apparently, the natives had signal fires burning. I had read a fascinating book by Thomas Bridges called “The Uttermost part of the Earth.” It describes an English family that settles near Ushuaia and builds their very large ranch. It describes the local Indian tribes and how they interacted with them. Few Indians remain in that area. Most died from disease and the remainder assimilated with the largely European immigrants. Our ship was able to dock at Ushuaia, instead of having to tender, which made it much easier for us to leave the ship. We took a Celebrity tour that included a ride on one of the local large catamarans. We cruised up the Beagle Channel and visited some islands (did not go on the islands). These islands were loaded with many seabirds, sea lions and other wildlife. Our catamaran was able to move to within 20 feet of some of the islands. One island had a small lighthouse on top. The channel is back dropped by beautiful snow/ice capped mountains. We did not make it to the Estancia Harberton, home of Thomas Bridges, author of The Uttermost Part of the Earth. There is one tour company that goes there, pira tours. We elected to take the Celebrity excursion that included the catamaran cruise and visit to the Terra Del Fuego National Park. The catamaran proceeded to take us to the National Park, where we were picked up by busses and taken to see a small museum, lakes with swans and other birds, then to the Ensenada, on the Beagle Channel. There, we saw the End of the World Post Office. I mailed a post card to our home address, but it still has not arrived. This was a great tour and I would advise taking this or a similar tour, or the pira tour. That evening leaving Ushuaia, our ship proceeded toward Punta Arenas, Chile, by going west, past some very scenic mountains. Many of the mountains had glaciers and you could see some melting with the runoff flowing down the mountainside. We stayed up until 10pm (it was still light) taking photos with friends. It was great. PUNTA ARENAS Our next port was Punta Arenas, where we tendered. This was the most problematic tender port. Lines were long and it seemed to take longer to make it to shore. Our tour was with SouthExcursions and only a half day tour, so we were not apprehensive about having time to return to the ship on time. The tour was described, as follows: Otway Sound Penguin Colony Half Day Activity (This tour can begin at 09:00 or 13:30) Leaving Punta Arenas, you’ll head north on to the Brunswick Peninsula, along the Straits of Magellan. From there, you’ll take a detour to Otway Sound, a beautiful landscape of plains, bays and fjords. Next, the tour will take you to the Picket Mine, an important open-pit mineral deposit in the region’s gigantic coal mantles. Finally, you’ll arrive at the pingüinera, the nesting ground of the Magellan penguin (Spheniscus magallanicus). Thousands of birds, which are called “jackass penguins” due to the donkey-like braying sounds they make, come ashore in the spring, to breed, and lay eggs here. Our tour included most of the same people on our Puerto Madryn tour. Cost was $67 per person, which was a good savings over the Celebrity tour. The Otway colony was larger than the group of penguins that we saw at the Peninsula Valdez. The drive to the colony was not a long as in Puerto Madryn. We passed the mine on the way to the colony. We walked some distance over a boardwalk with some bridges that allowed penguins to move under the boardwalk. The boardwalk took us to first to a viewing stand close to the beach were we watched the birds on the beach, some swimming. Then the boardwalk took us in a kind of triangle, walking closer to some of the penguin nests with more viewing stands. The viewing stands were small and only allowed three persons at a time to use. It took over an hour to make the circuit. We learned that Punta Arenas had a population of about 130,000, about twice the size of Ushuaia. The city looked prosperous, but then we felt that Chile generally looked more prosperous than Argentina. We returned to Punta Arenas and spent some time in and around the town square. There was a festival type atmosphere with a local band and lively music. Also, there were stall were souvenirs were on sale. In route to Puerto Montt, our ship passed through the Chilean Fjords, which included more scenic mountains and hills on both sides of the ship. PUERTO MONTT The next day was another sea day, as we moved north to warmer temperatures. The temperatures in Punta Arenas, Ushuaia and Cape Horn were in the 40s and 50s. Our next port was Puerto Montt. Temperatures were warmer but not quite warm enough for most people to wear shorts. Puerto Montt was another tender port, but the lines to exit the ship were not long, our tender boat was not full and the ship was anchored close to shore, so tendering was not a lengthy process. We had a full day tour and were glad to make it to land early. We had another tour with SouthExcursions, which was described as follows: Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas and Petrohue falls Full Day Activity (7 Hrs) This tour is ideal for passengers who want to get the best of Puerto Montt and its marvelous surroundings. Enjoy of a trip that takes you from the ship to the city center of Puerto Montt, with its picturesque fishing wharf and seafood market, as well as a visit to the main square of Puerto Varas, “City of Roses,” known for its alpine and traditional German-style architecture. After this, a lakeside drive leads you to the impressive Petrohue River Falls, a gleaming succession of azure blue rapids, against a back drop of mountains and the emerald green “Todos Los Santos” Lake. Here, a breathtaking view of the snowcapped “Volcan Osorno” can be admired. A lunch stop will allow for you to get a feel of the local cuisine. Upon your return to Puerto Montt (if time allows), a stop will be made at the Angelmo market before returning to the pier. Our tour managed to arrive at Petrohue falls (rapids) before the many Celebrity bus tours. We passed through landscape that reminded us of southern Germany (many German, Swiss and Croat settlers there), with snowcapped mountains (volcanoes), tidy fields with cattle and homes with German type architecture. It was a modest walk on paths, then boardwalks and bridges to see the rapids and falls. Scenery was magnificent with the backdrop of the snowcapped volcanoes. The volcanic rock in the falls area, with rushing water was well worth the trip. On the way back, we stopped at another park with had a green colored lake due to the algae (I called it pond scum lake). That name did not give it due credit. The lake was beautiful in the woods, an inlet next to the large lake. This is the Chilean Lake district and there are bugs that are attracted to dark clothing. I wore light colored clothing. The bugs were not that bad, but did bother us from time to time. Returning to Puerto Montt, we stopped for two hours at Puerto Varas, a beautiful city on the huge lake. Many of the buildings had architecture reminding us of Germany. Also, across the lake you could see the two large snowcapped volcanoes as well as a smaller more distant mountain. We ate lunch at a restaurant recommended by our guide, and each had a huge empanada and local beer. After lunch we walked around the city. It was busy with a market like in Punta Arenas, as well as music and folk dancing. The tour was $75 per person and well worth the price. The cruise was approaching an end, and I want to mention the ship’s service, entertainment and other matters. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was typical of what celebrity offers. There the big production shows with dancers, singers and an aerial act. The young singers and dancers performed very well, we again enjoyed Celebrate the World, with its music and dancing from many countries in the World. We have seen that show before on every celebrity cruise, but still enjoy it. The Voyage to Remember on the last night was good, however we didn’t go to iBroadway or Boggietown again, we had seen those shows enough. Craig Dahn, a pianist was superb and performed music from Jerry Lee Lewis, Liberace and more. Neil Lockwood, another pianist, did a great Elton John show. Elvy Rose, a Cuban-American gave us a couple of shows. We enjoyed here energy and music. We enjoyed the Pampas Devils, an Argentine group that did tango and routines of gauchos. Hypnotist Ed Fernandez was interesting, but not the best. Steve Carte, a juggler and humorist, was entertaining as well as Hector with a magic show. I went to the Michael Jackson imitator show with Ginny, Judy and Dave, but didn’t really want to, since I am not a fan of Jackson. The audience seemed to enjoy the performance. By ICE. FOOD AND SERVICE We found the food and service to be excellent on Infinity, consistent with our earlier six celebrity cruises. Our waiters at table 102 were always there when we needed them. On one occasion, my red snapper dish seemed to include a small portion of fish, and Jose took little time to bring me another serving, even though I didn’t ask for it. Our wine seward, George was excellent. Service at the Captain’s Club elite happy hour was amazing. Frequently, you would be provided with another glass of wine before you would finish your glass. The buffet food was excellent, with some variety, offering Indian, Mexican, and other foods as well as my favorite breakfast, eggs benedict. Our cabin attendants were there when we needed them. MULTIPLE SMOKING VIOLATIONS For the first time on celebrity, we had a serious problem with people in adjacent cabins smoking on their balconies. We complained many times to our room steward and guest relations. Ginny and I spotted two of our neighbors smoking on the adjacent cabin, as well as the one next to that one. Of course, both were up wind from our cabin. Celebrity was very responsive to our complaints, and by the middle of the cruise, the smoking had stopped and we still received calls from guest relations asking if everything was ok. However, toward the end of the cruise, the smoking resumed. The officer in charge of the cabin stewards got to know us well. He was nice, explaining that proof was required in order to punish offenders. I expect that due process is necessary, but apparently, or word was not enough. He explained that investigations were performs, possible offenders confronted. We were told that one yelled at him. We were still frustrated at celebrity’s inability to stop the smoking. Still, taken in context, this was the only real negative issue we had on the cruise. It was a great cruise, great itinerary and we would cruise on Infinity again. VALPARAISIO After another sea day, we arrived in Valparaiso, Chile. Ginny and I had been there before, when our cruise through the Panama Canal ended there in December 2011. Again, I had arranged for a tour with SouthExcursions. We had a special tour, tailored to our needs, since we had done the standard Valparaiso, Vin Del Mar, Casablanca, Santiago tour in 2011. The tour was described as follows: Day 1 Full day Casablanca Valley and Neruda’s house Wine tasting in a well-known vineyard plus Neruda’s house in Isla Negra. Casablanca valley is well known for top quality wines, many of which you will enjoy during this great excursion. You will travel out of Valparaiso and into the Casablanca Valley, the youngest Chilean viticulture area which boasts a perfect trilogy: climate, soil and vine. After the wine tasting and tour you’ll travel to the village Isla Negra, located on the coast between Valparaiso and Santiago. Neruda enjoyed a great fortune and spent it mainly on the very human pursuits of travelling, collecting and entertaining. Overlooking the sea, Isla Negra was an escape from the bustle of Santiago and a writing retreat. The house today contains many of his personal belongings, antiques, and his eclectic collections of nautical items - most notably ship mastheads, indigenous masks, and antique glassware. Includes wine tasting in Indómita Vineyard and ticket to Neruda's museum, but not lunch. Notes: From your destination in Valparaíso to your destination in Santiago. Day 2 Los Dominicos + Cathedral + San Cristobal Hill (7 hours) First, you'll visit the finest residential neighborhood until we reach El Pueblito de Los Dominicos, a lovely craft workers village where you will be able to walk around its narrow streets and buy typical Chilean crafts. Then, you'll be taken to see the Cathedral on the inside. Finally, we will take you to San Cristobal hill After disembarkation, we met Dixiana from SouthExcursions that had arranged our tours. She introduced us to Yvonne, our guide for the next two days. Our tour was tailored for us to visit placed we had not seen in 2011. Because our tour included only Ginny and I the first day and four persons on the second (Jim and Mary joined us on day 2), Yvonne turned out to be an excellent guide. She took us back to Valparaiso, where we had visited before, and we did revisit some of the places we saw in 2011, but then visited other interesting places. Then, she took us to Isla Negra, a seaside town where we visited one of the homes of Pablo Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I had never heard of the poet, who is famous in South America for his romantic writings. The home overlooked the beach and ocean and Neruda’s collections showed his interests. He collected sea shells (many beautiful), ships inside bottles, butterflies and insects as well as figure heads from ships. We enjoyed seeing the home and it gave us much local color. There probably wasn’t and American within 25 miles of this city. On the way to the museum, we saw a city filled with Chilean families enjoying their beach vacations. It was off the beaten path for a foreign tourist. The museum had audio guides in English that facilitated our understanding of the museum. After the museum, we had lunch at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the beach and ocean. The restaurant, Kaleuche (kaleuche.r@gmail.com) specialized in seafood. We had the most fantastic empanadas filled with crab, as well as a serving of Chilean sea bass as big as a T-bone steak. Also, Yvonne gave us a taste of her shrimp empanada that was fantastic. We very much enjoyed our meal. The seafood in Chile is just unbelievable. Next, we visited the Indomita winery in Casablanca. It is a huge winery, with a building that sits at the top of a hill, overlooking its vineyards. Unfortunately, our group of two arrived after bus and car loads of people had already arrive. Once we were seated for our winetasting, if felt like an assembly line. We had three glasses of excellent wine, but because of the overload of visitors, it was too rushed. We did get a tour of the huge wine making facility, which was the largest we had ever seen, with many huge vats and many barrels in production. In 2011, our guide had taken us to the Casas Del Bosque vineyards and we had a far more pleasing experience there. After the winery visit, we proceeded to our hotel at Santiago. We had SouthExcursions book the hotel for us, since they acquired a good price for the one night stay. Upon arrival at the hotel, the hotel manager was not aware of our reservation. Yvonne contacted the company and found out that we had been booked at another hotel, El Bosque San Sebastian, which was close by. The 20 minutes of uncertainty was not comforting. The issue was resolved, but I don’t understand why our hotel was switched. Apparently, Dixiana had sent me an email three days before, but I was not checking my email every day, since the internet on the ship was slow or not available. The same thing had happened two years before with SouthExcursions. My advice is that SouthExcursions will provide you will excellent tours and guides for a fair price, but make your own hotel reservations. Our hotel rooms were nice; we had a suite with living area, kitchen, and bedroom and of course bathroom. The concierge was helpful in pointing us to a nice area with restaurants. We declined to eat at Applebee’s which had the same food it has in the USA. We had a light dinner with empanadas and other appetizers with beers. SANTIAGO The next day, we were picked up by Yvonne at 11am. She had already picked up Jim and Mary from the Marriott. Yvonne was from Santiago and she showed us around her city. We saw many more sites than was listed in the expected tour. First, we went back to the Santa Lucia park with its hill with a view of the city. We had done this in 2011, but Jim and Mary had not. It was enjoyable going up the hill and we were present when the noon cannon went off. My ears were ringing for five minutes. After Santa Lucia, we went to Plaza De Armas, the main square of the city and visited the Metropolitan Cathedral. There was beautiful art work in the Cathedral, but services started during our visit and photography was curtail somewhat. Yvonne took us to see the racetrack, attractive old homes. Many of the stately older homes have been taken over by the University. We then had lunch, which took place at El Galeon restaurant. We had eaten there two years ago, and the food was still great. Of course, we had seafood. Again, the empanadas and main course were super. After lunch, we drove up to San Cristobal hill. We could have taken the funicular, but drove instead. The view from the hill was even better than from Santa Lucia, since we were much higher. We had a stop at a shop that specialized in lapis jewelry, but declined to purchase anything. Our last stop was an old hacienda that was converted into a multitude of shops. We then left for the airport to check-in for our flight home. Yvonne helped us to find the Delta check-in. We enjoyed our day in Santiago and Yvonne was an excellent guide. Checking in for our flight was not taking place for over an hour after we had arrived at the airport. There were kiosks available for us to check-in except for our luggage. The problem was that many other people had arrived early and it took some maneuvering to use the kiosks. After checking-in at the kiosks we attempted to form a queue outside the baggage check-in area, but others came up and cut in line. Still, we made it through and after a 9.5 hour flight arrived in Atlanta. We were reminded that it was winter in North America. It was a wonderful trip. South America is a very enjoyable destination. The around the horn cruise is a great way to see the remote sites, with fantastic scenery and wildlife.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Celebrity, as always, is one of our favorite cruise lines. This ship went to many interesting ports and around the cape up on the Pacific Side to Valparaiso from where we toured to Santiago where we stayed overnight. Our mid level deck 7 ... Read More
Celebrity, as always, is one of our favorite cruise lines. This ship went to many interesting ports and around the cape up on the Pacific Side to Valparaiso from where we toured to Santiago where we stayed overnight. Our mid level deck 7 mid ship balcony cabin was great. It was just what was needed in the rough waters around the Cape. You feel less motion mid level and mid ship. The staff was excellent and very accomodating. When we asked for extra blankets, they understood the room was not warm enough for us and came and fixed the heating system to put out even more heat plus giving us blankets. We did not expect the ports to be as cold and windy as they were so be prepared. That was our fault. We should have looked at more pictures. This may be summer in South America, but once u are south of Punta Del Este it is COLD and gets COLDER. We are thrilled that we did this itinerary although it is not a relaxing vacation at sea. The speakers and naturalists, Celebrity provided were outstanding in every way. They guided you for what was a most unusual experience in each port. The food and service were excellent and we are grateful to Celebrity for a truly outstanding experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We arrived at 12:20 PM in Argentina We had to wait in a non airconditioned airport. till 2:45 Taken by bus to embarkation It is now 3:20 Horrible embarkation. No organization Directions given in Spanish only for the most part. What we ... Read More
We arrived at 12:20 PM in Argentina We had to wait in a non airconditioned airport. till 2:45 Taken by bus to embarkation It is now 3:20 Horrible embarkation. No organization Directions given in Spanish only for the most part. What we were told, did not happen Only got on the ship at 5:00 PM when we arrived at the check in at 3:00 PM Everyone was given a $20 credit this was nothing for the way we were treated. People needed water and not a cup was provided. Our room only had one set of towel s for 2 people. First morning there was no coffee ready. Over charged for excursion that I had called Celebrity about to question the price Tours got started late and we therefore got back late for lunch and ended up eating at 3:00 and we had a 6:00 seating. Did not know there was Anytime seating Some staff gave us wrong information Last 4 days I had to go to 4 stations to find the ice tea beverage Food was not the best Tender was leaking and they kept it in sevice No theme nights No movies Shows were top notch Cruise Director was great There were problems in the dinning room that i do not wish to go into.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
It was our first time in South America and our 18th cruise with Celebrity. We decided to stay a few days in Buenos Aires prior to embarkation. We settled on Hotel Etoile in Recoleta facing the cemetery. It was an excellent value for the ... Read More
It was our first time in South America and our 18th cruise with Celebrity. We decided to stay a few days in Buenos Aires prior to embarkation. We settled on Hotel Etoile in Recoleta facing the cemetery. It was an excellent value for the price ( less than $100 a night). Large bedrooms, good breakfast buffet, indoor-outdoor pool, nice staff. We love to walk and felt we were walking distance from most attractions ( except La Boca). Do not miss teatro Colon which has a nice guided tour, Plaza De Mayo, La Boca, Calle Florida, Avenida de Mayo, La Americana empanada restaurant, the cemetery etc.. Nice city and we felt very safe. The embarkation was awful, the port is just not equipped properly but as soon as we got on the ship we felt as if we had come home. The Cruise Director Alejandro is exceptional, funny and interesting. Most of the shows were excellent and we enjoyed the Tango lessons with the Pampa Devils and their show as well. The food at the Main Dining Room has improved and the service everywhere was flawless. More care however should be given to hand sanitizing at the entrance of the restaurants. On the day that we were still in Buenos Aires we took a celebrity excursion to a hacienda with gauchos and lunch. It was a beautiful day at La Mimosa and it gave us a chance to see the surroundings of the city. In Uruguay , the two next ports were Montevideo and Punta Del Este. When you exit the ship you are given a walking tour map of he area which is adequate and interesting, an excellent initiative. Next port was Puerto Madryn : we went with the Sentir Patagonia tour company and had a guide-driver for 4 people to Valdez Peninsula where we saw the Magellan penguins and the seals very close and in beautiful surroundings. It was an expensive day but well worth the money. Our driver, max, kept us happy and was knowledgeable. We then went around Cape Horn on a sunny and quite calm day, beautiful and I was expecting worse conditions. Next port was Ushuiaia, the most beautiful and scenic town. In the morning we visited the old jail ( Presidio) then walked to the other end to the Panoramic view of the City. In the afternoon we did the Celebrity Tour of Tierra del Fuego, nice but overpriced. ( $100-4 hours). A taxi would have been better , it is not pleasant to take pictures through the bus windows !! Unfortunately we had foggy weather for the fjords. Our next stop Punta Arenas was okay but difficult for the tenders. We did manage a walk through town, the shopping was very good even if the town did not have much to offer. In Puerto Montt we did an excursion with the Dennis Purtov agency and went to the Vincent Morales park to see falls and a beautiful lake and volcanoes. We also stopped in Puerto Varas a touristy town. It was a wonderful day and a good value. In the end we arrived in Valparaiso and took a Celebrity tour to the airport in Santiago. we were assured in writing that our luggage would be in a secured place at the airport while we had a tour of both cities, Vina del Mar and a great lunch at a winery ( El Cuadro). The excursion was great but when we arrived at the airport our luggage was on a sidewalk outside the terminal and our friends had been robbed of valuables. It finished a great cruise on a sour note unfortunately ! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Things could only get better after the most miserable embarkation I have experienced in almost 40 cruises. Celebrity had alerted passengers about 10 days before the cruise that boarding would be delayed from Noon to 3pm because of the ... Read More
Things could only get better after the most miserable embarkation I have experienced in almost 40 cruises. Celebrity had alerted passengers about 10 days before the cruise that boarding would be delayed from Noon to 3pm because of the larger than usual number of ships in port. Instead of taking us to the ship, the shuttle from the airport took us to a downtown Buenos Aires hotel where we filled out some paperwork and then waited (another hour in my case) for a bus to take us to the cruise terminal. Then the misery began. A mob scene of over 1000 people crowded into a hall with multiple entrances awaited us. After standing for over an hour leaning on my cane because there were no seats anywhere, I finally was ushered into another hall where there were seats. After waiting another hour, I was called to stand in another long line for processing. I had to show my Argentina Reciprocity Fee receipt 3 times before boarding the ship. After finally getting my SeaPass, I had to board another crowded bus to stand for the final journey to the ship. I did not reach my cabin until 6:20 pm. Celebrity gave us a $20 onboard credit for the missed lunch, but that was small comfort for the misery of embarkation. My next surprise was arriving at dinner to find that instead of the table for 6 that I requested, I was at table 117 for 12 people. Two couples dropped away, another rarely came to dinner so there were as few as 3 people at a table for 12. Very disheartening. It's not Celebrity's fault, but I was surprised that there were very, very few passengers traveling alone. The last surprise was that the entertainment schedule had been revised since last summer to accommodate the taste of Latin passengers who are accustomed to staying up later. The show for second seating was at 10:45, which was late for my habits. On the plus side, the ship was in good shape and the food and service were very good. With one exception (Punta Arenas), the ports were interesting and the shore excursions I took were good to excellent. The unpleasantness of embarkation will make me think long and hard before booking Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We and many others on the March 3 2013 Buenos Aires to Valpariso cruise were disappointed. I notice the price has gone up substantially for 2014. The good: great weather and smooth sailing (not always the case), good attendants for ... Read More
We and many others on the March 3 2013 Buenos Aires to Valpariso cruise were disappointed. I notice the price has gone up substantially for 2014. The good: great weather and smooth sailing (not always the case), good attendants for cleaning the room, ports unique, scenery unique. The bad: Difficulty coordinating with airfare-cost 8 wasted hours each way due to incorrect Celebrity publication about not taking Valpariso city tour requirement about outbound flight must leave after 9:00 pm on day of departure. This forced us into connecting flights both ways. Fact: Tour arrived at airport at 4:00 pm, could not begin to check bags until 6:00 pm, could easily have taken direct flight leaving between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Neither Celebrity nor Choice Air was of any assistance on this. Choice Air suggested we book a hotel and go the next day-totally useless help. Portions small/frequently service hard to find /drinks out at various stations often at their buffet restaurant. Entertainment-very disappointing-we usually left very quickly. Entertainment around the ship was fairly good-but got old after a few days, much less 14 days. One of the game show employees really liked to hear himself talk-almost made us miss Cape Horn-we just had to leave game show so we didn't miss it. Got our bags around 5:00 pm after being on the ship for several hours. Missed our first afternoon excursion due to delays getting from airport with Celebrity. Were not properly informed about "reciprocity fee" that had to be paid to Argentina. To supposedly be a highly rated cruise line, we were greatly disappointed. We could not recommend this cruise on this ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We did a B2B Buenos Aires to Ft Lauderdale. We entered our cabin, a sky suite, and it was what we expected until we saw the balcony.....very small, the chairs could not even face forward and there was no table. The butler brought a small ... Read More
We did a B2B Buenos Aires to Ft Lauderdale. We entered our cabin, a sky suite, and it was what we expected until we saw the balcony.....very small, the chairs could not even face forward and there was no table. The butler brought a small plastic table after we asked, but the advertised "dinner served on the balcony" would not have been possible on this balcony with that table. That suite perk was not as advertised! First leg was ok, but we noticed many of the staff seemed unhappy and were very willing to let us know. Late seating dinner service was ok but obvious our waiter and assistant didn't get along. Our butler expressed unhappiness daily. Went to dining room for breakfast and they really rushed us! Couldn't find a decent breakfast....poached eggs with hard-boiled centers, omelets so rubbery they would bounce, ham with no flavor, pancakes tasteless, bacon under cooked! Went to Blu on 2nd leg and it was OK. Had a lot of coffee and muffins from the coffee shop. Would have liked more informative talks that were relevant.... why talk about the universe but never speak about the sky in the Southern Hemisphere? Little info about ports but non-stop push to sell shore excursions and promote their on-board shops. Felt like we were on a floating infomercial. Went downhill on the 2nd leg. Thank goodness we had friends join us and great table mates at our new table for 8, late seating . . . but the service was absolutely terrible. Not once did a maitre d stop by the table to check in. The dining room food was adequate but unremarkable most nights and often arrived lukewarm to cold. A couple of nights the food was awful. Had norovirus on board the last 10 days. Totally understand need to change service. Though did wonder why salt and pepper could be on table in Blu but nowhere else? Did not go to Oceanview much after 1st leg since we found the food unremarkable at best and on 2nd leg the lines just for coffee and water were amazing! Did not bring out the best in my fellow passengers. Many nights we were in the Trellis dining room until 11 due to slow service. On the last formal night we got dessert at 11 at which time they turned on the lights full blast, making it clear it was time to leave! On the last night once again slow service...at 10:45 five people began putting up red "Danger - Do Not Cross" warning tape between pillars in the dining room...while we were eating! Again at 10:50 full blast lights while we were still at the table due to terrible service. Then we returned to our room to find every glass had been removed along with the ice bucket! If you needed to take medications...too bad! Our experience in the SS United States (4 times on the 1st leg, once on the 2nd leg) was mediocre at best with service, both food and wine, being awful on the last visit! One positive on food . . . our 3 meals in Qsine were fun with great service. Informative talks on 2nd leg also lacking..."Uncle Marty" as the expert on the Panama Canal gave five one-hour talks . . . sleep-inducing and highly repetitive . . . definitely not our cup of tea. No port info other than excursion sales. Our friends were treated terribly at guest relations when they registered a complaint. Hadn't sailed on Celebrity in 9 years...won't be sailing Celebrity again. The ports were interesting, our cabin well kept and nightly entertainment was fine; but the activities and food and service were highly disappointing to say the least! The last 2 days were unbelievable, totally felt they just wanted us gone and don't let the door hit you on the way down the gangway! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We reserved this cruise about a year and half before departure, and paid full price for it. Yet we were assigned a noisy room that I'm sure they are aware should only be used for storage! While at cruising speed there is a constant ... Read More
We reserved this cruise about a year and half before departure, and paid full price for it. Yet we were assigned a noisy room that I'm sure they are aware should only be used for storage! While at cruising speed there is a constant on and off sound that prevents one from getting a good nights sleep or even being able to retreat to the room during the day. We had to live with this for 14 days! The noise (buzz, or distance horn like sound) varied in length but is generally about 10-12 second on and maybe 5 second off. Several crew members came and heard the sound but did not identify its source and could not reduce it. I suspect it is related to the ship's stabilization system; and as I told the crew members it is loudest at the head of the bed which is against the outside wall - I noticed nearby staterooms were arranged with the head of the bed against the side wall . . By the way I'm very hard of hearing, wear two hearing aids when with other people, yet this noise kept me awake at night! We heard from other passengers - Captains's club members - who were upgraded from inside cabin to Verandas . . . while we paid for an upgraded outside view cabin that was nearly uninhabitable. Shame on Celebrity for treating first time cruisers to such bad conditions. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
A little about us, past cruisers on other lines (Carnival,Princess,HAL,RCI) first time on a Celebrity ship. The ship is in nice condition and our room was very since we got upgraded (thank you Celebrity) from OV to veranda. Really ... Read More
A little about us, past cruisers on other lines (Carnival,Princess,HAL,RCI) first time on a Celebrity ship. The ship is in nice condition and our room was very since we got upgraded (thank you Celebrity) from OV to veranda. Really enjoyed watching the waves go by from our veranda and the room was very nice. We got onto to the ship in fifteen minutes even tho there were two other ships in port this day. We heard most others had to wait much longer boarding times but we were lucky since we arrived at the port early. In Buenos Aires one must check in the board a bus to get to the ship this is a working port. The weather going south was nice and even crossing the Drake passage went smoothly. Antarctica was very nice and we saw many seals, whales and penguins. Many ice bergs floated past our ship and we had nice weather except for some fog. Heading north we stopped at the Falkland Islands and did a penguin tour there, great place to visit. And wished we had more time there... The Ship We ate most dinners in the MDR and we were happy with most meals there, the buffet was okay for lunch but did get a little crowded on sea days around noon. The burger grill made great burgers and hot dogs and sandwich place at the end of the buffet was very good too. The only issue we had with food was eating breakfast in the MDR, twice we had cold food that should have been hot so stopped eating in there for breakfast. The entertainment was nice and we enjoyed most of the shows. The ship didn't have a movie theater and missed that but they did have movies in the staterooms for rent. My only complaints were that this ship didn't have a walk around deck, no way to walk around w/o taking the stairs to make a complete circle. We took this cruise for the opportunity to see Antarctica and Celebrity provided that and will try another Celebrity cruise in the future. Last item, we cruised with our 13 yr. old son and the teen center was closed for this cruise because there were enough teens on board, I understand Celebrity can't control how many teenagers on board but wished they offered something else for my son. Teenagers don't want to play games with small children and this was all that was available to our son. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We had planned this cruise for over a year and it was well worth it! Got to Buenos Aires a day early and stayed in the Recoleta area at the Melia Hotel. Lovely hotel in a great area. We arranged for the hotel to pick us up at the airport ... Read More
We had planned this cruise for over a year and it was well worth it! Got to Buenos Aires a day early and stayed in the Recoleta area at the Melia Hotel. Lovely hotel in a great area. We arranged for the hotel to pick us up at the airport since we had never been to BA before. Ate a great steak at El Marisol which was walking distance from the hotel. Embarkation was the worst that I had ever encountered in all of my cruises. It was chaos. No clear direction as to where to go and no clear lines. I heard later that they had computer problems at the port so everything was delayed. We left BA late (I believe it was 3 hours), but still made it to Ushuaia on time. We did Beagle Channel and Tierra Del Fuego excursion in Ushuaia. It was a good tour. Dress warm if you plan to sit outside on the catamaran. The weather was chilly, but it didn't rain which was good. The views were awesome. Saw plenty of sea lions. Around Cape Horn starting at 630am the next morning. We had relatively calm seas around the Cape and through Drake Passage. I believe the captain said it was as good as it gets (15 foot seas). We were expecting much worse so we were pleasantly surprised. Hit some fog the day we were supposed to arrive in Antarctica so I went to the gym to jump on the treadmill when suddenly "it" appeared. Snow capped mountains and just a beautiful scene! Made our way to Paradise Bay and Elephant Island. I don't think pictures will do this place justice. We saw penguins, whales, birds and sea lions. So remote, so peaceful, so beautiful! It was simply AMAZING! Fog set again and we left Elephant Island for the Falklands. We made it to the Falklands and it was sunny when we got there, but then it turned to cold and rainy. Did the Patrick Watts tour to Volunteer Point which was incredible!!! Lost a bumper along the way, but it was an experience that I will never forget. The king penguins were simply beautiful. Could have stood there all day and watched them. Other ports of call were Montevideo which we did on our own. Very walkable city. Highly suggest the meat market. What a fun experience. We did the ship tour in Puerto Madryn to Punta Tombo. Wow!!!! I have never seen so many penguins in my life in one place!!! The crew on the Infinity were great! We had a Celebrity Suite which was amazing. So much space. Food on the ship was good. The main dining was really good as well as Blu, Quisine and SS United States. The buffet was okay, but we would have liked to have seen more of a variety. The weather was good for the most part. Had a couple of choppy days at sea, but it could have been much worse. Weather went from hot to cold to hot. Really hard to pack for. Did a ship tour of Buenos Aires and a tango show once we returned to kill some time since our flight didn't leave until 10:30pm. It was good. Got to the airport around 130pm and found out that we couldn't check in or check our bags until 3 hours prior to the flight time. The airport was hectic and not enough seating. All in all a wonderful trip that I would highly recommend!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
Our first try to reach Antartica was February 2011, but gale force winds in Paradise aborted the trip after a foggy morning at Elephant Island,. Decided to try again and we lucked out! The comments about embarkation in Buenos Aires by ... Read More
Our first try to reach Antartica was February 2011, but gale force winds in Paradise aborted the trip after a foggy morning at Elephant Island,. Decided to try again and we lucked out! The comments about embarkation in Buenos Aires by others was right on, A miserable experience and we were unable to get assistance from local meet and greet contact or home office which seemed critical to us as our luggage arrived 3 days late and an hour before official check in was scheduled to be completed-- a wee bit stressful!! This trip, Celebrity changed its itinerary with only one stop between BA and Antartica. The seas around Cape Horn and through the Drake passage were amazingly calm-- smoother seas than many transatlantics or Caribbean cruises. Arriving in Antarctic region, the day started out foggy but by mid-morning was clearing and we had a sunny day in Paradise Bay --just amazing as was the leopard seal who floated on an iceberg next to our ship for at least an hour. Words are really inadequate to describe how beautiful it was. That evening we cruised up the Gerlache Straits during early evening and had a lovely sunset to end the day, The next morning we passed through several cloud banks but by the time we got to Elephant Island the sun was out and the sky was clear.. Another amazing day with stunning visuals. Whales were spouting again, seals swimming near the ship and by the time we left, penguins were feeding and jumping near the ship,. So glad we took a second chance on this itinerary. If you want to see Antartica at a reasonable price, this is the way to go, Just remember,storms and fog is not uncommon so be prepared to try more than once! wish I knew how to add a few photos!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 16 years we've sailed a total of 26 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. ... Read More
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 16 years we've sailed a total of 26 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was second sailing on the Infinity, our first being in 2009, and our 9th cruise with Celebrity. We picked this cruise largely because of the itinerary as this was the first Celebrity cruise in two years to go to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Celebrity has gradually become our favorite cruise line because of the food quality, but admittedly we've done a number of cruises with other cruise lines recently because the itinerary was not offered by Celebrity. Overview The Celebrity Infinity was refurbished in 2011, which was a good thing as our first sailing on her in 2009 left us less than impressed. It was a tired, old ship in need of TLC and the recent upgrade to "Solstice Lite" definitely was a big improvement. The public rooms are nicely done and the addition of the Cellar Master, Bistro 5, and Qsine is an outstanding touch. This makes the dining options aboard the Infinity much better than most of the competition. While the state rooms and some of the infrastructure is dated, the ship has everything and more as to what you would expect from an upscale cruise line. We noticed only a few significant weaknesses which I will detail below, the biggest being Celebrity's wine service. If you are not a wine lover, this will not be an issue. But if you are oenophiles, as we are, you may want to consider another cruise line. Being a frequent cruiser on Celebrity certainly slants our patronage toward Celebrity. The value of the Elite status in complimentary drinks, various discounts, free laundry, priority tender passes, and Internet discounts amounted to about $50 a day. The only downside was they ran out of Italian coffee midway through the cruise and substituted Uruguayan coffee, which was like drinking sewer water. It was just terrible and the majority of our shipmates agreed. We switched to hot chocolate for the remainder of the cruise. Even with that shortcoming, our Elite status will likely be a factor in future bookings just as keeping a high frequent flier status has become important when booking airline tickets. Embarkation While Elite status has its perks, and unlike on Princess, Elite status will not get you any preferential treatment during Celebrity's embarkation experience, which was one of the worse in our 26 sailings. It took two hours from start to finish. The lines were indistinguishable and we were forced to shuffle along with the masses hoping there was an end to the blocks long lines. When we eventually reached the end of the first line, it only resulted in cueing up into another long line, and another, and another! Forget going through the trouble of checking in online. It really didn't take off but about 3 minutes of time during the process. It took us four lines and two hours to finally get to the line to board the busses to the ship. When we got to the ship we had to hike up the longest gangway I can remember. This wasn't all Celebrity's fault as this part of the experience falls squarely at the foot of the anti-tourist government of Argentina. This country is not exactly visitor friendly. It took us one hour to get through customs at the airport (normally about 2 minutes in other countries). If you can, I would avoid boarding any ship in Buenos Aires! Wine Lovers Beware! Some of our baggage was confiscated by Celebrity because it contained wine. This was a first for all of our 26 sailings as we always bring on wine from our cellar to enjoy in the dining rooms. Security would allow us only to open two of our six bottles. This was confusing to us as in our prior 9 cruises with Celebrity we typically brought a case of wine, packed in an obvious wine shipper, onboard. We then paid their $25 corkage fee (the highest of all cruise lines), which on this cruise amounted to $300 in lost revenue to Celebrity. (In protest, we opened our two bottles in our room and then carried our wine to dinner!) Being foodies, we also tend to eat in the specialty restaurants, which cost $80 a night for the two of us (again, the highest of any cruise line). We had pre-booked 10 nights in their specialty restaurants but cancelled half of them when we learned we could not enjoy our wine. All together Celebrity lost $400 in specialty dining income and $300 in corkage fees. It also cost them a reasonable amount of good will as we will be more incented to book wine friendly competitors, like Princess, in the future. We have already booked our next cruise with Holland America. The Ship The ship is recently refurbished, so you would expect it to be in great shape. The public areas were well maintained and the decor was contemporary and pleasant. There were a lot of places to sit and read a book, or write a cruise review, while enjoying a cup of espresso or a drink. Since it is an older ship, it does have some functional issues in the floor plan. It is just not as convenient to get around as the Solstice class ships. The elevators were always full and having to trek through the casino on deck four going to and from the theater was annoying. Like many older ships you had to negotiate around mid-ship interruptions on Deck 3 requiring you to climb a level of stairs and then descend back down to continue. Dining If food is your thing, like it is mine, then you will be in culinary heaven on the Infinity. You can choose from "anytime" seating or the traditional early or late seating. Or, just skip the main dining room altogether and spend your evenings in one of the three fantastic specialty restaurants as we typically do. There is also a private restaurant, Blu, if you book a suite. However we elect to spend our money on food and wine rather than a larger cabin, so I cannot report on the Blu experience. In the main dining room, the Trellis, the food quality was slightly above average for an upper end cruise line. Their veal medallions on risotto were the best I've had anywhere. We happened to get lucky and draw a really outstanding waitress, Sheyla, who should really be working in their specialty restaurants. Her punctual service and knowledgeable guidance as to the best dishes on the menu were a cut above the service we normally enjoy. We named her our most outstanding crew member of the cruise. The specialty restaurants available to the commoners are the Bistro on 5, SS. United States and Qsine. The Bistro has a $5 cover charge while the SS United States and Qsine have a $40 additional charge. While these charges are among the highest of cruise lines, the experience is well worth the charge. The SS. United States has that Michelin star feel we've come to expect on Celebrity and Cunard. The food is the more French traditional gourmet and is on par with any great restaurant anywhere. The wait staff has worked hard to earn the privilege of being chosen to work in those restaurants. They typically are especially passionate about what they do. Qsine is one of the most unique restaurants we've ever dined at on land or sea. It's a mix of fusion Mediterranean and Asian served in a tapas / family style. Most of the dishes are designed only for this restaurant and could never be used anywhere else. If you have only one visit in your budget for a specially dining experience, we would highly recommend you make it Qsine. While you can have all you can eat, choosing from 20 different options, our recommendation is to limit your selections to three or at the most four. Any more than that is just painful! The newly remodeled CellarMaster has one of the better wine bars of any of the 20+ ships we have sailed. They have a large assortment of wine available in 1oz, 2.5oz, and 5oz pours, which allows you to inexpensively sample a broad variety of wines you might not otherwise have the courage to try. One ubiquitous experience we missed that you find on most other upscale cruise lines is a Chef's dinner. Fortunately, the specialty restaurants on the Infinity were so good that this wasn't terribly disappointing to us. But it would be a nice event for Celebrity to add. One thing we appreciate about Celebrity is the fact that juice is available anytime during the day at no charge. Some lines make free juice is available only in the morning. Wine As we mentioned earlier, we were especially disappointed with how the Infinity punishes wine lovers who want to bring their wines on board to enjoy. After bringing special bottles on board for 26 cruises, the Celebrity Infinity became the first ship to confiscate our wine. This resulted in us canceling most of our dining reservations in their specialty restaurants, where we also paid an additional $25 corkage fee to enjoy our wine with dinner. One of my perennial complaints on Celebrity is the high price of their onboard wines, which are priced about 4x's retail. They also have the highest corkage fee of any line at $25 a bottle. Of course, since Celebrity will confiscate all but two bottles of wine you bring on board to enjoy, what's the point of having a corkage fee at all? Other lines, like Princess, are much more wine friendly with reasonable charges of 2 to 3x's retail and corkage fee of just $15 a bottle. I also found it interesting that Celebrity doesn't make any distinction between a bottle of hard liquor or a bottle of wine. Two bottles of wine are easily consumed over one or two meals, while two bottles of single malt Scotch could easily last you the entire cruise. It seems to me Celebrity is shooting themselves in the foot with this policy. There are cruise lines that do make a distinction between hard liquor and wine, allowing you to bring on as much wine as you would like but limiting hard liquor to one bottle. While Celebrity had a few wine events, notably the Port wine tasting was a good value and well done. But as far as the other wine tastings we thought they lacked content, quality, or were overpriced. While Mauricio, the head cellar master, was engaging and knowledgeable, we were basically unimpressed with the wine experience in general. Other cruise lines, namely Princess and Holland American, have had passionate and knowledgeable sommeliers and wine events that we've remembered and talked about for years after our cruise. The fact that Celebrity confiscated our wine and these short-comings leaves me questioning whether we will keep booking with Celebrity. We already cancelled a wine themed tour of France with Celebrity. What's the point of having a corkage fee if they are going to not allow you to bring wine you purchase at the wineries onboard to either enjoy in their dining rooms or take home? Stateroom Our stateroom was on a lower deck, Deck 3. It was a relatively normal stateroom experience. One notable nuance is that we didn't need to set an alarm clock as the vacuum cleaner going off in the hallway every day told us it was 9 am. Fitness and Spa This is an area in which the Infinity is average, with one major weakness. The men's locker room is in need of a remodel. The fitness area has the same amount of cardio machines as much larger spaces in the Solstice class ships. This means you don't have the long waits to use the cardio equipment on most sea days that you do aboard the Solstice class ships. They also have a good set of barbells and a reasonable variety of weight machines. They appear to keep their equipment in reasonable repair, however, there were several cardio machines and televisions out of working order during the entire cruise. The men's locker room and saunas were one of the worst designs I've encountered while the functionality of the dry sauna was very good. The temperature was just fine and the sauna was in perfect working order for the cruise. On many other cruise lines the saunas just don't get hot enough to break much of a sweat, but this is not the case on the Infinity. II did not try the private steam and dry saunas which cost around $10 a day. There were a sufficient number of lockers which were all keyed, but there were no keys ever available forcing you to leave your belongings unprotected. I would recommend that Celebrity follow Princess and install combination locks. This would make it easy on the front desk staff and protect the belongings of the patrons. It can't be that difficult! The Infinity doe have a spa bar featuring a lighter, healthier fare. Unfortunately, there is no bar service featuring fresh fruit juices and smoothies. This would be a wonderful addition to their spa area. Entertainment We thought the entertainment was average and certainly a step below their Solstice class ships. The shows were not highly innovative and featured the normal array of comedians, singers, instrumentalists, and magicians. The troupe performances, while they had a lot of individual effort, lacked synergy and choreography. The sets were boring and lacking in innovation. The reliance on sound tracks was also disappointing from the experience of seeing a live orchestra which is common on other ships. The theater is similar to most modern ships, which has two levels and spacious seating. The onboard entertainment found in the lounges was hit and miss, with some being painfully bad and others being quite good. Internet I run a small business and being connected to my staff is imperative, even on vacation. I depend on having a functioning Internet while on board any ship. The Internet on the ship was barely adequate as it was down a reasonable amount of the time. I would guess I got access once out of every 5 attempts to logon. I purchased the 2,000 minute, $400 package and was sorry I did. If you must have Internet on your laptop, you must go to the iLounge and sign up, it can't be done from your computer (as on the Solstice class ships) which is a drag. I was, however, sooo glad that Verizon had a repeater on board so my smartphone worked perfectly. In the future, I will forgo the expensive and inefficient Internet package and just go with my smartphone. Shopping The shopping experience is on par with most every other cruise line, boring! There is nothing exceptional to highlight here. Ports of Call, Port Talks and Shore Excursions The port talks on the Infinity were very helpful and informative. They were a great improvement over the Silhouette talks. Getting information on the ports was easy with the two lecturers on board. They gave excellent advice as to what to look and look-out for and how to negotiate when in port. As seasoned travelers, we appreciate cruise lines that push their shore excursions by starving you for general information on port stops. We used the Internet onboard the ship to contact several tour companies that were highly rated by www.TripAdvisor.com. Another great place to book private tours prior to departure is by looking under "Tours" and on the chat boards on www.CruiseCritic.com. We've never been disappointed following the advice of previous travelers and typically save 25 to 75% off the ship's prices. We ended up doing extremely well by booking local tours ahead of time at about 1/3 the cost of the ship's prices. Our average tour cost $110 to $150 and the equivalent tours on the ship were $330 to $400. Ushuaia is an easy port to negotiate as the dock is almost in the city center. There are a number of tour companies available just as you get off the pier. We booked with the only tour company, Pira Tours, that is allowed to actually land on the island where the rookery for the Gentoo and Magellanic penguins is located. In our opinion, this was the best penguin rookery we've visited as you get to walk amount the penguins on the beach as well as their burrows on shore. All the other tours (including the ship's) just float off shore for a while but don't land. The cost was a very reasonable $110. Be prepared to dress warmly. We've been to Ushuaia twice in the summer and it's always cold! Paradise Bay, Antarctica, was certainly a highlight. Crossing Drakes Passage both going to and coming from Antarctica was a non-event. We were prepared for the worst, but as it turned out we had very calm seas. We have never seen so much wild life from a ship. Whale sitings were plentiful as were dolphin and penguins. There were many icebergs and ice flows. Paradise Bay itself was beautiful. We did not get close enough to many of the penguin rookeries to be able to identify the species, however, on many occasions flocks of Gentoos swam within a close distance to the ship. We were very satisfied with our time in Antarctica, even though we did not get off the ship. Elephant Island was pretty much a bust. We did get to see a large glacier before the fog set in. That was it. We actually did not see the sun for over a week on this cruise, from Ushuaia to Puerto Madryn. The Falklands were another highlight. We tendered there and the tenders were stopped for about 30 anxious minutes in the morning because the fog set in and then lifted enough to resume tendering. We were later told that had we arrived one hour later the captain would not have anchored as the fog and the weather would not have permitted him to do so. We hired a local guide, Sue, to take us to Volunteer point where we saw the majestic King penguin along with Gentoos and Magellenic. The ride out to the rookery took 2.5 hours, much of it overland. When they say don't take this tour if you have back issues, they mean it! Our cost was $130 each, about 1/3 of the ships cost. This was another highlight even though we only got 45 minutes on the beach to view the penguins before the horizontal rain shower started! Puerto Madryn is a stop we've been to before when we went to see Punta Tumbo and the Magellanic penguin rookery there. It was amazing! We recommend getting off the ship early and beating the ship's busses. This time we took a tour to swim with the sea lions. We were somewhat apprehensive about the trip, but our apprehensions melted away to delight as swarms of sea lion pups swam out to play with us while we snorkeled among them. We kissed more sea lions, literally, than we could count! The cost of this was $150 which was less than ½ of what the ship charged. Montevideo, Uruguay is a real yawner of a stop. There is not much to do or see here. We would have liked to have visited some wineries but the private tours were over $400 each. The ship did have a tour of one winery with lunch included for $160, but as we suspected, the winery was more of a 'box wine' commercialized venue than a serious vineyard. We walked around town and ate some barbeque at the covered mall just one block from the ship and called it good. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We enjoyed a wonderful two weeks on the Celebrity Infinity. We were a bit concerned prior to embarkation because of the relatively poor reviews seen on this website for the cruises a few months prior, however we had a great time and I ... Read More
We enjoyed a wonderful two weeks on the Celebrity Infinity. We were a bit concerned prior to embarkation because of the relatively poor reviews seen on this website for the cruises a few months prior, however we had a great time and I honestly don't understand some of the complaints made in other reviews. I guess everyone has their own point of view. We arrived in Buenos Aires two days before sailing, and we stayed at the wonderful Mio Buenos Aires Hotel. I highly recommend this hotel. We took a private walking tour arranged through buenostours.com - it was wonderful and so worth the money. We had no problems with crime, but were careful to remember that we were in a big city in a foreign country...you just have to be cautious. On the day of embarkation, we figured there was no rush to get to the ship as the cruise was two weeks long...big mistake. At 1pm the terminal was an absolute mess. People everywhere. Three ships in port. It took 2.5 hours to get onto the ship. Was it a "nightmare?" No, you just had to be patient. The port is run by the local government...not Celebrity. We had an aft cabin, 7208. This was our first time in an aft cabin, and we loved the large balcony and the great view of the wake the whole cruise. The best advantage was the lack of wind! While the side balconies were less usable due to wind, we sat on our balcony almost the whole cruise. Reading my book, wrapped in a blanket, as we pass through the Antarctic - I will never forget that. The ship was well run overall, but it is not a 5 star ship (nor are the prices though of a 5 star ship). Service was good, but not great. For example, our room service breakfast seemed to be wrong every single day. In addition, it felt like it was really hard to get a drink sometimes. Some of the servers seemed like they couldn't care less if they got you a drink. I am concerned that this was due to having the drink package. We did complain to management about this, and they responded quickly to our concerns. They even gave us a bottle of champagne for our troubles. I want to note that our positive reviews that we left with the management also were addressed...and the staff members thanked us personally for our compliments. We were pleased to know that Celebrity credits their great staff members in addition to correcting the poorer ones. The speakers series was wonderful and so informative. I thought this was a great touch on a cruise where we were there to experience such a great part of the world. Food: The specialty restaurants were worth the additional money. We also really enjoyed the food in the main dining room. It never repeated in the two weeks, and I don't understand all the complaints on other reviews. Our servers were great, however the drink service and wine service was slow in the main dining room. We did not enjoy the buffet - the lines were long at the preparation stations, and there were too many pushy people. Ports: We did all of our excursions through the ship and loved them all. Ushuaia: We did the canoe adventure along with only 7 others from a 2000 person ship (I guess there were only a few daring people). It was amazing. Such a great way to see this part of the world. Falkland Islands: We took the adventure to Volunteer point. This 4x4 adventure was the highlight of our cruise. The 2.5 hour each way of off road Land Rover adventure was so much fun. Other people seemed to be less impressed with the off-roading...but it was well advertised that it would be a bumpy ride. The payoff was an amazing 1.5 hours of top notch penguin viewing. Puerto Madryn: We went to Punta Tombo penguin rookery, and enjoyed seeing the penguins in the rain (and hail and thunder). If we had not seen penguins in the Falkland Islands, we would have been very impressed, however I have to admit, it didn't compare to Volunteer Point. Montevideo: This port could easily be skipped. We did the tour to Colonia del Sacramento, and enjoyed it, but it wasn't a highlight of the cruise. The success of this itinerary GREATLY depended on the weather, and we were not disappointed. The crew starting calling ours the "Golden Cruise." We didn't miss anything, and there was no fog. It was a special treat to get to spend several hours on the helicopter pad. Disembarkation was uneventful, just be prepared to spend way too much money on your cab that you catch at the port. They rip you off and know it. We had a great time on the Celebrity Infinity, and highly recommend this cruise to others. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
My wife and I booked the Celebrity Infinity round trip Buenos Aires, with visits to Ushuaia. Antarctica, Falklands, Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. We went for Aqua Class, which was terrific. Our first problem however was the embarkation ... Read More
My wife and I booked the Celebrity Infinity round trip Buenos Aires, with visits to Ushuaia. Antarctica, Falklands, Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. We went for Aqua Class, which was terrific. Our first problem however was the embarkation for which we arrived at 1:00PM and didn't actually board the ship until around 3PM, 2 hours of standing in lines! I think this was not primarily the ships's fault. Buenos Aires, in their love for central beaurocracy, had 3 ships loading through one medium sized building (packed) and then we were directed to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to the ship. The ship itself was very clean and well organized, and all of the ship staff were friendly and helpful. Our aqua class room was well organized, clean and comfortable. The BLU restaurant was excellent. Meals were well prepared and healthful. seating was mostly tables for two, but each table was very close to another table for 2, so it was like a table for 4, except that you met a different couple every night. Nice! The Breakfast was also very nice for days at sea, but not usually practical for port days, because service is slow and you may miss your tour. The itinerary on this cruise was fantastic. We had great weather, and Antarctica was one of the most beautiful places we have seen. Many seals, penguins and whales. We had one ship problem in Puerto Madryn, where there was some delay in leaving the ship in the morning and the unloading area on deck 2 was crammed with people for almost an hour. Celebrity should have had people wait in the theater or their rooms until the problem was cleared. Finally disembarkation was another serious problem. We, like most Americans, had a late night flight out of Buenos Aires airport, so we booked the city tour and tango show that would drop us off at the airport later in the day. This tour started at 7:30 in the morning and dropped us at the airport at 1:30PM. Apparently they were trying to accommodate some passengers who had late afternoon flights. Our flight was at 9:30PM, so we had 8 hours to kill!. Worse, the airport will not let you check in until 3 hours before the flight, so the entry area of the terminal was crammed with Americans, with limited plastic chairs and few amenities. Celebrity should have arranged a later and/or longer tour to accommodate all the people (probably most) with late night flights. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
Embarkation: Dreadful. No other way to put it. The terminal in Buenos Aires is not equipped to handle three ships at once, and when the Immigration computers went down, everything came to a standstill, with no explanation why. No place to ... Read More
Embarkation: Dreadful. No other way to put it. The terminal in Buenos Aires is not equipped to handle three ships at once, and when the Immigration computers went down, everything came to a standstill, with no explanation why. No place to sit, no facilities, no crowd control. Chaotic luggage check-in. No Elite check-in, no handicapped check-in. Worst embarkation in 30 Celebrity cruises. Stateoom: One of the new Ocean View Staterooms on Deck 3, put where the conference room used to be. Terrific location. Large, round, picture window. New fixtures, including a higher toilet than the regular rooms. Everything clean, everything in working order, comfortable bed. These rooms have a small loveseat which folds out to a single bed. Would be tight for three passengers but not impossible. Itinerary: Lots and lots of sea days. The days spent cruising around Cape Horn, viewing Antarctica and viewing Elephant Island are really sea days. Only four ports: Ushuaia, Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), which was the only tender port, Puerto Madryn, and Montevideo. Seeing Antarctica was an emotional high. Weather was very foggy, which also meant that Drake Passage was very calm, so it was a tradeoff. Those who wanted to see penguins had several opportunities and were not disappointed. Antarctica: We were very lucky not to have howling winds and high seas. Visibility wasn't always very good, but the temperatures were very tolerable and everyone seemed very prepared. Port Stanley actually was the bigger weather challenge, with some rain and some wind during the day. Enrichment lecturer was very interesting. Food: Best steaks on any Celebrity cruise so far. Do miss some of the items taken off the everyday menu last year, including the Caprese Salad and the baked potato. Almost all food on this itinerary must be shipped in from the US, so some freshness issues were evident -- bananas were only on the buffet about every other day, and alternated between fairly green, then fairly brown. Fresh strawberries were served three or four times at the Elite breakfast but never saw them any other place. No Philadelphia cream cheese and the replacement offered was more like sour cream than cream cheese (picture this on a bagel == yuck). No little sandwiches at Cafe al Bacio, but all the sweets there were very good, especially the coconut cake and the black and white cookies. Service: A waiter who was leaving the ship at the end of this cruise and had mentally "checked out" meant that dinner service wasn't up to standards. But all other service was very good, especially the bar service at the Elite cocktail hour. Stateroom attendants were efficient and friendly. Entertainment: Cesarios (guitar player) and Will Foraker (piano and vocals) are outstanding. The Classical string players were much appreciated. No A Capella group on this cruise. Stage shows were all very good, especially the Pampas/Tango show. Alejandro (Cruise Director) was funny, witty, and very entertaining. With no movie theater on board any more, there were no movies and they were missed. Very good enrichment lectures about famous crimes involving celebrities in California from a former Los Angeles DA. Fellow cruisers: There were approximately 1000 Americans, 200 British, and the remaining passengers included some very large tour groups from China, Germany, and elsewhere who were mostly non-English speaking. Surprisingly, given the length and the particulars of the itinerary, there were quite a few children, and even a few toddlers and babies in strollers. Very few mobility impaired -- this itinerary seemed to attract a rather more vigorous crowd. Spa facilities: Other than the hair salon, didn't use any facilities in the spa. The T-Pool was very warm, more like hot tub temperature, some days. T-pool was opened to families two hours a day, due to the inclement conditions outside. So few children on board that this never seemed to be a big problem. Disembarkation: Difficult. So many flights to the US leave after 9 p.m. so it seems like a good idea to take one of the Shore Excursion transfers that include lunch, but ours left so early in the morning that basically not much was open at our sightseeing stops, and lunch ended up being at 11;00 a.m. Then, on arrival at airport at 1:00 p.m., several people's suitcases hadn't made it to the airport. The luggage delivery system seemed about as chaotic as the luggage check-in had been two weeks prior. Can't recommend this Shore Excursion. But the difficulty remains that there's not enough seating at Buenos Aires airport, you can't check in until around 3.5 hours prior to the flight, and there's basically nothing to do there. It made for a very long day.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We arrived in Buenos Aires after a gruelling flight from London Heathrow via Rome on Air Alitalia. The aircraft had the most uncomfortable seats we have ever sat in with very little legroom and awful head-rests. There was a lack of ... Read More
We arrived in Buenos Aires after a gruelling flight from London Heathrow via Rome on Air Alitalia. The aircraft had the most uncomfortable seats we have ever sat in with very little legroom and awful head-rests. There was a lack of overhead locker space because the check-in staff allowed far too much "hand" luggage to be taken on board. After a 13-hour flight from Rome we were more than jet-lagged. The trip had been advertised as a direct flight from the UK but be prepared to get bumped off BA onto less direct routes. On the transfer from the airport to the hotel Sheraton the courier warned us not to go out with jewellery on show, etc, as tourists were being robbed on the streets. By the time we boarded the ship we had heard at least 3 stories of people getting mugged so beware. As in previous reports, boarding the ship was horrendous. There were 3 ships boarding in port and very little control over the queues. It was our first time with Celebrity Infinity and our excellent cabin was on deck 7 mid-ships. There was no provision on the ship for ironing. With regards to food - excellent for meat eaters but very limited for vegetarians. Every ship we use seems not to know how to cope. We took our meals at 8:30 pm leaving us to be able to see the excellent shows beforehand. We also liked the on-ship lectures which were most informative. We were so fortunate with the weather. It was like a millpond around Cape Horn and also in Paradise Bay and Elephant Island. We were also very fortunate to get into Port Stanley by tender but we wish we could have had more time there. The crew called our cruise the "Golden Cruise." Our advice is to (try and) book your trips beforehand before getting on the ship because all the trips are like gold-dust especially when 2 or more ships are in port at the same time. We count ourselves lucky with this voyage because the weather can be most unpredictable. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
First, all reviews are subjective and in the "eye of the beholder." Second, these are personal observations and opinions. While the itinerary was wonderful, the ship was disappointing and service needs to be improved in certain ... Read More
First, all reviews are subjective and in the "eye of the beholder." Second, these are personal observations and opinions. While the itinerary was wonderful, the ship was disappointing and service needs to be improved in certain areas. What follows is a list of Cons and Pros that we experienced. Cons 1. Luggage was not delivered until way after 6:00 pm although we were on board ship by 11:30 a.m. 2. Small balcony stateroom with even smaller closets 3. Noon buffet mediocre, although fish and chips were excellent. Attendants were very slow in clearing tables, which was unfortunate because the Ocean View Cafe did not come close to seating the number of people eating breakfast or lunch. 4. On the pasta line, the server used dirty bowls and 3 people complained and would not eat the pasta. 5. We were advised by some elite members not to eat in the specialty dining room as the food was mediocre and not worth the money, so, we took their advice. 6. Attention to details in providing service and clean public areas were lacking. 7. We were in the solarium at 8:30 a.m. one port day and saw two chocolate wrappers on a table. We walked by the table at 1:30 p.m. and the wrappers were still there. 8. As we approached the theater on deck 4, on three occasions, there were terrible odors that reminded us of sewer gas. Pros 1. Main dining room food had a good variety, and was excellent tasting. 2. Stateroom attendants did a good job of cleaning the room promptly. 3. Port talks geared to presenting info and not selling products. 4. "Base camp" was set up in Constellation Lounge (highest lounge with many windows and chairs) on days we cruised Antarctica and Elephant Island. Naturalist narrated and kept everyone informed on wildlife sited and various Antarctic features we were seeing. 5. The Captain opened heliport for people to have closer viewing sites 6. Beyond the Podium presentations were generally good and covered topics such as, the Falklands, in Peace and War, Early Navigation, and Early exploration of Antarctica, to name a few. We noted these problems on our ship evaluation and to Celebrity's credit, they called us at home to discuss them. Prior to the phone call we were going to cancel a future cruise on this ship. Now, we will reconsider. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2013
Celebrity Infinity Antarctica Cruise and Buenos Aires Walking Tour February 17 to March 2, 2013Personal Background InformationI am retired and have been cruising single for many years. This was my first cruise on Celebrity, however. I took ... Read More
Celebrity Infinity Antarctica Cruise and Buenos Aires Walking Tour February 17 to March 2, 2013Personal Background InformationI am retired and have been cruising single for many years. This was my first cruise on Celebrity, however. I took it, because I wanted to see Antarctica. I had already been to Ushuaia, Stanley, Puerto Madryn, Montevideo and Buenos Aires on a 2009 cruise on Norwegian Sun from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, which I also reviewed. This time, I also arranged for a private walking tour of Buenos Aires with Baires a la Gorra upon disembarking.Travel To Port of EmbarkationThere was no problem with the cruise-line’s air arrangements from Boston. All of the arrangements Enid Hey, Celebrity’s agent, made for me were wonderful. As always, there is that very long walk between gates at JFK. I didn’t overnight in Buenos Aires, but went right from the airport to the cruise terminal. I do believe I was overcharged for the taxi-fare and wish I had also arranged that transfer with Celebrity. EmbarkationEmbarkation was a nightmare. Including Infinity, three ships were embarking that day and there was chaos in the terminal. It took over two-and-a-half hours from arrival at the terminal at approximately 12:00 to get aboard Infinity. So, door-to-door from Boston took 22 hours. I think Celebrity should work on their embarkation logistics, because I experienced a similar, though not identical, problem embarking on a Celebrity cruise from Barcelona in April.StateroomI was upgraded to cabin 8177 Concierge Class and it was wonderful, except the evening treats delivered to the stateroom were the same everyday until, after about a week, the steward realized I wasn’t eating them, and changed them to something else for the rest of the cruise. But sitting out on my balcony, cruising south, watching the waves break, breathing the splendid air, I really have no cause for complaint.Ship InfoInfinity is a smaller ship, which I much prefer. I liked it a lot and would cruise on her again, should opportunity present.As do other Celebrity ships, Infinity has a terrific, large and airy solarium with warm saltwater pool, hot tubs, healthy food bar, comfortable padded deck chairs, etc. Inside, the large sauna with large port looks out at the water. Great pleasures.DiningThe food and service in both the Trellis dining room and Oceanview cafe were excellent. I had Celebrity Select (open) seating in the Trellis, so enjoyed excellent conversations with other guests, with many of whom I found shared interests and life experiences. These dinners were a great pleasure. On formal/lobster night however, I was very much looking forward to some company at dinner and, in spite of my request, they sat me at a small table by myself. After about five minutes, I got up, went up to the stern deck for a half-hour, then back down to the Trellis, got in line again, asked to be seated with a group, and was placed at a large table with one couple. We began a very pleasant conversation and were joined by another couple. We had a lot in common. So regardless of a dismal start, it turned out to be the best dinner of the trip.ActivitiesI used the fine gym everyday, and took advantage of the excellent Spa services for a shave and haircut by Agnes and massage by Claudia. The base-rate for Internet on Celebrity is $0.75/minute, more expensive than on other lines. I bought a $50.00 package, which works fine, as long as you compose your emails, etc., before signing on.Staff & ServiceI banged my legs on the bed frames sticking out from under the mattresses and drew blood. So I stuffed a towel over them for padding. I thought the steward would see it and do something. But he just left the towel there for the entire cruise. I didn’t have this problem on the next cruise, on Equinox, so guess it’s unique to Infinity. The rest of the staff were wonderful. I could name names, but it would be a long list.EntertainmentI didn’t go to any shows. After a while, they blend, and I didn’t have anyone to go with, anyway. I neither drink nor gamble. Mostly I read, write, work out, swim, sauna and watch the scenery, so guess I’m pretty boring.Shore ExcursionsThe purpose of this voyage was to see Antarctica. The only excursion I took was a bus from Ushuaia to Terra del Fuego National Park. It was a cloudy, drizzling, chilly day, unlike the last time I was there, when it was brilliantly sunny and warm. The PA system on the bus was broken and we had a half hour wait for a replacement bus. Being at the park in the fog and rain was disappointing, because I kept remembering how splendid it was in the brilliant sun. It seemed just ordinary on this visit. I took the same walks along the river and lake shore as before. But the driver kept the engine running at the latter; exceedingly annoying. In describing the park's fauna, the tour guide said there are red and grey foxes, both very elusive and rarely seen. Well, five minutes later, a red fox crossed in front of the bus; the driver stopped and the fox slowly ambled alongside, passengers rushing to take pictures of this supposedly 'rarely seen' creature. Upon returning about a half-hour later, cars and busses were lined up along the road as the fox wandered amongst them, mingling with people taking pictures of this very plump 'wild' fox.From Ushuaia, we proceeded south to Cape Horn, where we lingered off-shore for a couple of hours while Peter Croyle, the very knowledgeable Excursion Expert, pointed out various features over the PA system and, for part of the time, a Chilean Navy patrol boat matched way just below me while the young lady on the boat and I waved to each other. At about 08:00hrs, we left the American continent behind, heading south into the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. It's awesome, when you think that the continent begins at the Northwest Passage in the Arctic and ends right here, at Cape Horn. The Drake was as flat as a pancake. Drake Lake. This is from my diary: February 23, 2013 18:55: Schollaert Channel and Paradise Bay.From about 11:00 this morning, the world has truly turned upside down. It's hard to believe this is the same planet. We have passed spouting whales, diving penguins and basking sea lions, but it is the overwhelming magnitude of this unparalleled grandeur which infuses every moment, overwhelming the senses, the mind, the emotions and, in essence, the spirit and soul. Everyone has been trying to capture it in pictures, and everyone says it is impossible; only the soul can truly perceive the essence of this majestic mystery. Now I think I understand why Shackleton, Amundsen, Scott and so many others were and are driven to this place no words can describe, no photos capture, no matter the cost. I feel the thunder of ice braking into the sea.February 24, 2013 12:00. Thick fog since about 06:00 is just beginning to lift, so making perhaps 10kts. at present toward Elephant Island. Could see the Shetland Islands off to port before the fog set in, and I think it Deception or Clark that has just now appeared directly off about a mile from my balcony. The fog is rapidly burning off, every second revealing a fresh view. Elephant Island is now ahead to port. We are about to enter the fog again, temperature dropping, the wind picking up and I am trying to imagine what it must have been like out here camped on ice flows and in small wooden boats in April. Now we are again in the fog and visibility is zero, everything has vanished into glaring white and I have put on another shirt, and now need gloves, too.Shackleton writes of pods of killer whales in here, but I don't see any. At 12:39 we are directly south of Elephant Island with a heading of 35 deg. at 18kts. Wind is 14kts. NW and temperature 35 deg.12:55hrs. Some blue sky can be seen; the barest shadowy form of the top peaks of Elephant Island appear and disappear and now are becoming startling clear directly ahead. I am re-reading Shackleton's account of their landing as we approach from the same direction, the forbidding cliffs and coast he describes directly off our port bow. They did this in small wooden boats through sea ice in April, after endless months wintering on ice flows! And here am I sitting on my porch, with all the comforts of home a step away. It just doesn't seem right.The fog is gone, the sun out, and no need for gloves. I am looking for Shackleton's "rocky beach". I see another vessel, National Geographic Explorer it turns out, in the distance under the cliffs.15:23hrs. We've been in the same place off Endurance Glacier for about three hrs, and it's loosing its charm. Peter Croyle said something about circumnavigating the island so we'd see where Shackleton landed, but it doesn't look like that's in the works. There's quite a bit of activity in the water: minkes, penguins, seals, and the ship has just launched a tender, so a few lucky crew-members are getting a treat. The folks on the balcony next door are complaining about just sitting here for hours, and wondering why we aren't going around the island. Shackleton's first landing site was on the other side of Point Valentine. They stayed there for one day and night, before proceeding further up the coast to Point Wild, from which he and six of his party departed on their famous rescue mission to South Georgia, leaving 18 of his party on Elephant. Unfortunately, we did not follow their route, so have not actually seen either of these historic landing sites. February 26: Stanley, the Malvinas (Falkland Islands). This was my second visit. Around 06:00 we entered the inlet and anchored out in the bay, a 20 min. tender ride to town. I went to the cemetery and tore grass away from George Llano's headstone so the inscription was visible, at least for a while. His is a very interesting story and I suggest a Google search. When I told the security officer at the tender dock about his grave, she said her husband is buried in the same section. From the cemetery, I walked back through town in the other direction, past the market and gift shops, the bank and war memorial, on the breakwater to the wreck of the Jhelum, came upon some albatross feeding along the shore, sat cross-legged on a manhole cover and politely asked them to take flight so I could get a picture. They obliged for a few seconds, before alighting in about the same spot again.I do truly love the Falklands (Malvinas), they are gorgeous and well worth visiting. But I have been here before and mostly just wanted to visit George Llano's grave again. Other than that, the heavy exhaust emissions from all the SUVs, trucks, busses, etc. is very unpleasant. No catalytic converters required. Wonder what Stanley will be like when they start drilling for the oil. Horrors!On the way back to Buenos Aires, we stopped in Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. Been to both before and have nothing to report.Disembarkation and Baires a la Gorra TourDisembarkation was no problem. Everything was well organized and went quickly.With a 21:00hrs. flight scheduled, I had arranged with Naty Novoa of Baires a la Gorra (https://www.facebook..com/balagorra?fref=ts ) to take their free walking tour of Buenos Aires’ historical sites and local neighborhoods, and to sample Argentina’s delectable cuisine, a most stimulating, enjoyable experience. Naty met me at the cruise terminal at 10:00 and I was able to leave my one suitcase securely there for the day. I had absolutely no security concerns during the tour, since I took reasonable precautions, using a money belt and, at Naty’s suggestion, keeping my small backpack in front when in crowds. I found Buenos Aires to be a charming, dynamic, clean and friendly city. Though we took taxicabs for two short rides, we mostly comfortably walked and chatted and I learned about Argentina’s people, culture and history while having fun. The tour format was a very pleasant, informative conversation with Naty, while visiting historic sites and markets, partaking of the cuisine with Buenos Aires residents at a favorite restaurant and cafe, and casually talking with people about their lives, jobs, and feelings. There was none of the hustle, constraint and sense of isolation of profit-driven tours. It was a great pleasure to walk the city at ease with friends. The tour provided both a broad scope and depth of knowledge, familiarizing me with the major historical sites, government and business districts and inner-city neighborhoods. It left me eager to return for a longer stay. Though the day was well-organized, I did not get the sense of rushing from place to place. We had time for a leisurely breakfast, and incredible lunch of the best steak I have ever had followed by Dulce’ de Leche’ with caramel and whipped cream for desert. I enjoyed strolling through key areas, visiting the major historical sites, including La Recoleta Cemetery (Cementerio de la Recoleta) with the impressive mausoleums of Eva Peron, Argentina presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, a granddaughter of Napoleon and many other notable people. We also visited the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, where we saw ‘the most tattooed man in the world’, shopped in the elegant Galerias Pacifico, where I bought Alfajores dulce’ de leche’ pastries to take home, and went to a busy street fair. Baires a la Gorra gave me a unique and delightful experience that I will always treasure. Though it is a free service, with no financial obligation, I covered the modest expenses and tipped generously. They also arranged my transportation to the airport. I felt as invigorated at the end of the day as at the beginning. and had no problem with my flight home.SummaryThis cruise to Antarctica on Celebrity Infinity and Baires a la Gorra’s walking tour of Buenos Aires afterward were truly remarkable experiences and I strongly recommend them without hesitation. Naty Novoa of Baires a la Gorra and Enid Hey of Celebrity provided unparalleled services in making sure I would have these precious treasures to remember for the rest of my life. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
While a Celebrity cruise to Antartica is an affordable way to see this continent, I would think twice before booking. The first problem is Buenes Aires,the city where you catch the Celebrity Infinity. It's a dirty, dangerous city. ... Read More
While a Celebrity cruise to Antartica is an affordable way to see this continent, I would think twice before booking. The first problem is Buenes Aires,the city where you catch the Celebrity Infinity. It's a dirty, dangerous city. American Tourists are charged a $160 fee which must be paid online before you get to the airport. On the two Antartic cruises in Feb. 2013, dozens of passengers reported being victims of crime in the few days before boarding the boat, mostly from pickpocketing. One Aqua Class passenger even had his camera taken during a Celebrity excursion by the bus driver and Celebrity wouldn't do anything to help the passenger get the camera back. Buenes Aires is a crime-filled city with literally every building scarred by grafitti and every sidewalk has holes and disrepair. There are dozens of scams on the streets, even cab drivers try to give you change with counterfeit pesos or try to drive off with your luggage. Check cruise critic for other examples of crime on tourists. The biggest ones were squirting liquid on a tourist's clothes and then pickpocketing them while pretending to help clean their clothes. Others had jewelry or cameras grabbed while sitting at an outdoor cafe or walking in the street. Boarding the Infinity was a nightmare. Two and a half hours of people pushing and no organization to set up lines and order. However, once you got on board, the ship was run very well. Especially noteworthy was the entertainment and the master of ceremonies. MC Alejandro has an excellent sense of humor and did his best to bring great entertainment. The speakers about Antartica wildlife, climate change and other scientific subjects were fascinating, particularly Graham Sunderland who looks like Alfred Hitchcock and shares his droll humor. The documentaries about Antartic explorers were also fascinating. The dancers and singers were excellent and their productions were very entertaining. Big complaint about the dining room seating. We asked to sit at a table to meet others. Instead we were the only diners at a table for six. After five days, we were forced to move to Select dining because we didn't want to sit alone. all around us at late seating were similar tables of two people at tables for six but no one thought to move us together. The sommelier also forgot to ask for wine orders several times or forgot to bring an ordered drink at the late seating. The food was very good in the dining room but mediocre in the Ocean View grill on the 10th floor. The Quisine Specialty restaurant was a superb dining experience because of the quality and preparation of the food and the way it was presented. I would strongly recommend Quisine One of the biggest disappointments was the fitness facilities. For the first five days, more than four of the eight elliptical machines were broken as were a number of other machines in the fitness room. The Infinity did not have the variety of fitness classes that other ships have. The supposed Zumba classes were not Zumba at all. While the Feb. 17 sailing was blessed with terrific weather and calm seas, 14 days aboard the boat with only four ports was too much time on the seas for my taste. Even in the ports, many of the excursions required four to six hours of bus travel to spend one hour looking at penguins or other wildlife. Antartic is a good experience if you don't do a lot of walking or like to explore. For the more active cruiser, I would think about spending my cruising dollars on a different destination especially one that embarks from a city that is more hospitable to tourists. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
In my opinion, the best part and the main reason to go on cruises is the ability to visit a number of destinations during the same trip. The comforts and amenities of the ship, food and entertainment programs are secondary. Again, this is ... Read More
In my opinion, the best part and the main reason to go on cruises is the ability to visit a number of destinations during the same trip. The comforts and amenities of the ship, food and entertainment programs are secondary. Again, this is my personal opinion, and for other people priorities may be different. But, when and if I go on a cruise, it is usually to reach a certain array of destinations and to be able to do it in a comfort of a clean and comfortable ship that serves good quality meals. Based on this criteria, I can only give this cruise 3 stars. These are the reasons why. One of the major destination points on this cruise was infamous Cape Horn, the most Southern piece of land (besides Antarctica). After leaving Puerto Madryn we were on the way there when one of the 85-year old passengers had a minor heart attack. There is no doubt that a human life is more important than anything else, and all actions should be always taken to save a human life, in spite of any circumstances. Thus, the captain purportedly consulted with the local authorities about possible ways to evacuate the sick person. The authorities refused to send a helicopter and denied him entrance to Rio Grande port that we were passing at the time. So, the captain decided to go to Ushuaia right away bypassing Cape Horn all together. We arrived to Ushuaia about 14-16 hours ahead of schedule and the human life was saved. The only compensation for the failure to reach Cape Horn was a meager "I am sorry" statement from the captain later. Again, I praise the Lord (not the captain), that the human life was not compromised and our fellow passenger was safely transported to a healthcare facility in Ushuaia. Nevertheless, I believe the chain of events revealed a fundamental flaw in Celebrity's policies and organization. Here's why I believe so. I have been a business owner for a number of years and in the past managed a high profile company that went public at the London Stock Exchange. I know what businesses can and should do to fulfill their responsibilities to the public (or their clients per se). I know that in corporate codes there is always a contingency plan in case if something unusual happens. A company like Celebrity having two thousand passengers with majority of them being over retirement age definitely has a contingency plan that dictates actions in case of statistical emergencies as such that happened on our cruise. People over 65 do have a greater chance of a heart attack than people between ages of 25 to 55. Statistically, on a cruise like this there is more than a half of people older than 65. This is just statistics. So, when a "normal" statistical event happened during the cruise, there should have been some contingency plan in place to either efficiently evacuate the person without affecting the rest of the cruise, or to make arrangements to compensate the rest of the passengers if an evacuation attempt fails. However, on Celebrity Cruises the contingency plan was either absent or simply bad. It was definitely not a good plan, for it easily failed with no complicating circumstances such as bad weather, equipment failure, multiple accidents, etc. It is possible that there was no a reasonable agreement between Celebrity and local authorities in place. We really don't know in what manner the local authorities were contacted by the cruise line and what they were told. But, the fact is, they refused to send a helicopter and denied entry into the port of Rio Grande with no specific reasons. As I mentioned earlier, the weather was calm and our ship had a perfectly designed helipad for accepting helicopters (obviously in case of emergency). Personally to me the decision to go straight to Ushuaia seemed to be more financial in nature than anything else. An emergency helicopter or a stop at an extra sea port would be related with some heavy out of pockets expenses for the company. On contrary, cutting a hole leg out of the cruise and bringing a patient to one of the ports on the itinerary definitely saved the company a lot of money. The sad part of the whole thing was that the company decided not to compensate the rest of the passengers for its failure in any way. I think a mere "open bar" for the night would be at least a small token of company's remorse and apology. Of course, I am not a drinker as many other passengers on board, so maybe a little souvenir from the company with a "sorry" note would do it. No, there was not even that. The captain just told us about the situation from the TV screens and apologized with an indifferent statement "we are sorry". The other disappointment on the cruise was the food. Good food is what a lot of people anticipate when they go on cruises. Unfortunately, Celebrity failed in that regard as the food on the ship was not at par with the other cruises (like Princess) I've been to. First of all, I was disappointed to come to the buffet restaurant (Oceanview cafe) every day and find exactly the same selection of items time after time. It does get old after the first week. Second, nothing ever seemed fresh. I know that the cruise lines don't buy local produce during the cruise. So, they have to store everything up for 2-3 weeks in their refrigerators. But, I don't think that adds to a good experience. Greens were always wilted, meats had a pre-frozen feel to them and other foods seemed like they had survived an extended shelf-life on board. Even the special dining restaurants (like Trellis) could not avoid these problems all together. I know that one passenger on the ship was so appalled by the quality of food that after a scandal she received a special "Manager's" diet - dishes cooked for her by the chef individually. Other than that, the ship was clean and nice, and the staff was doing their jobs at every other department. All the staff members were very friendly and hardworking. Our stateroom attendant did an outstanding job cleaning our room each day and making sure we had everything we needed. The tours scheduled through Celebrity were good and reasonably priced. We went on three of them at Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego National Park), Punta Arenas (Otway Sound bay) and Puerto Mont (Osorno Volcano and Petrohue Rapids). My favorite was Tierra del Fuego just because of the best tour guide we had. He knew his job, was a lot of fun, very informative and made sure we were separated from other tour groups to get the best experience possible. My least favorite was the Osorno Volcano tour, again, because of the tour guide. The microphone on the bus broke, so she just chose to sit and tell us almost absolutely nothing about the area. It was a very quiet excursion. Considering that I had been on Princess cruises before and it was my first time on Celebrity, I will probably choose to stay with the Princess. This is not a review for Princess, so I am going to end this here. I humbly recommend Celebrity to review their contingency (emergency evacuation) policies and food storage and preparation techniques. I think Celebrity is a wonderful cruise company, that has great fleet and staff, but they do need improvement in very important areas. Read Less
Celebrity Infinity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 3.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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