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Sail Date: February 2004
We took the ship in Buenos Aires, we left late, next day we arrived to Montevideo, we left late again, one of the persons at our table said, there is something strange, the ship is too slow. Next day we were informed that the turbine of ... Read More
We took the ship in Buenos Aires, we left late, next day we arrived to Montevideo, we left late again, one of the persons at our table said, there is something strange, the ship is too slow. Next day we were informed that the turbine of one side was working in bad conditions, the reason we were late, and left late from every pier. They informed us that we were going to skip the Falkland Islands. This problem was that this was not informed to the passengers when it should have been informed, they did it only when we all were on sea, and no passenger was coming on board or could leave. This preexisting problem which was not disclosed to boarding passengers so no option was given to us to sail or not, we were forced to accept the itinerary changes they made, once we were already sailing. People, as we did, took only the cruise to go the the Falkland Islands, no other reason, and we didn't make it there. The Captain didn't appear to give an welcome to the tables and really he didn't care much if we were happy with the decision or not, then he communicated that we were going to receive as a compensation US$ 75 per person, which is an insult, because it doesn't even cover the tips which are "voluntary" so they say, and cost 150U$ per person as minimum. The other claim is that the amount, we received didn't even pay for the fuel for the ship till the Falkland Islands, or permission to disembark, and lets not speak about the days we had to stay on board with no disembarkation which were quite boring. Additionally I would like to express our disappointment on the lack of translation for spanish speaking passengers, and other languages too, as Portuguese , French, German etc, in a cruise of such quality its not possible that one part of passengers doesn't understand what the shows are about, no translation in movies, any possible entertainment was only designed for Americans, we were traveling through South America, and with a group of South American people and of spanish language like Mexicans, Spanish etc., you should at least be prepared to give these passengers who paid the same as the others the same attention as the english speaking ones. I hope this complain will make think, the people of the Celebrity Cruises to prepare better next time, their cruises, not only food is poor, also entertainment, and some people who are there to serve the passengers, as the people of the camera shops, Spa and hairdresser are not polite at all. I would be thankful if you publish this letter, so the people of the Cruise line will be able to do something about it, because its not the first time that this line leaves passengers unhappy, or leave them in the middle of a cruise in any port, because of a problem on their ships. Thanks and best regards Elsa Perlmann Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Let me start by answering the question , Would I do it again .. The simple answer is maybe. But I do need to say that my previous experiences on the Century and Mercury ships must have spoiled me Embarkation was a disaster : There were ... Read More
Let me start by answering the question , Would I do it again .. The simple answer is maybe. But I do need to say that my previous experiences on the Century and Mercury ships must have spoiled me Embarkation was a disaster : There were winds in the port of Bueones aires , that caused a need to move the ship . The Celebrity staff were not helpful at all in explaining the issue or the time frame to board . We all understood the safety issue and the need to move the ship But , The staff could have done many parts of the boarding process while we waited in line for 3-4 hours .. I.E. Have a staff member pre check passports for Visa's .. Insure all passengers had their paperwork ready and explain the process of what we need to do once the line could start moving .. Instead most associates sat in their booths waiting for someone to give them direction.. There was not a sign to see or announcement that we could hear as we waited outside in the LOoooooooonggg line ( we were supposed to get priority boarding as We had booked a concierge level room ( big Mistake ) .. when we asked how that would be handled , we were told "that went out the window hours ago !!! I mentioned how we were spoiled on the Century class were the equivalent rooms had Great sunny balcony's to enjoy when the crowds at the pool proved to be too much .. or when we wanted to enjoy a starlit nite ...Well on the Infinity you concierge class room has a balcony that is well under a "roof" ( the deck above) .. that not only does not allow the sun shine or starlight to shine in .. But actually has girders sticking out causing an obstructed view !!! .. Concierge class also boasts Fresh flowers and fresh fruit in your room each day .. By the middle of the cruise the fruit was Literally Moldy and rotten ( the cabin stewart said he would stop bringing it because it was Poor quality ) .. and the flowers were only replaced when they were Brown and decayed .. The ports of call were good and the Shore excursions were well organized and worthwhile ..( don't waste your money !!). Our ship was the only one in port for Carnival .. we found that to be an "interesting" experience but do not need to EVER see again .. We felt were were ripped of a bit as we were in A reserved section .. well the people in from of us ( not cruising with us - on their own from the US ) paid 180 pp less that us to attend The Sambadrome .. The captain of the ship was no where to be found .. He made only a cameo appearance at the "welcome " party in the theater and an even shorter visit to the captains club party .. ) hmmm lets see he's the captain and lasts 5 mins at the party ) .. We are now planning two future cruises and are waiting for a response to our Issues from Celebrity .. We will see if we can continue our relationship , or move on to another cruise line .Its up to Celebrity !!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
A little concerned we were unable to book shore excursions direct, ended up in calling their office, bounced around 4 people before making the arrangements which took 40 minutes of waiting. Flight to Argentina fine, no transfer offered ... Read More
A little concerned we were unable to book shore excursions direct, ended up in calling their office, bounced around 4 people before making the arrangements which took 40 minutes of waiting. Flight to Argentina fine, no transfer offered to the overnight hotel, or to the ship the following day. The next day was a nightmare, the weather had caused the ship to dock late and Celebrity had made no arrangements for 1500 passengers all arriving to embark. We were in 4 different lines for nearly 5 hours, no information, no where to sit no food no drinks, Celebrity had abandoned us, despite a luxury liner just 500 yards away. I guess we were lucky, we meet other passengers who had waited 7 hours. The crew seemed to have an attitude problem I guess they were fed up with complaints, officers were invisible, I guess for the same reason. We were late arriving at the first 2 Ports of call, shore excursion arrangements were complicated, these people's goal in life seem to be orginising waiting lines. The food was good, restaurant service patchy, wine waiter was only interested in pushing the high price bottles, despite an excellent alternative selection of local produce, that you had to ask for, the entertainment was excellent, the shows were a delight. Arriving in Rio for the Carnival was something special I shall never forget, a memory of a life time, Celebrity had the excursion organised, but failed to tell us that there was no reserved seats, despite having paid £415 for 2 people for 1 night. The Cruise back to Argentina was uneventful a gave us time to relax, which was just as well, debarkation was another waiting exercise, long lines of passengers trying to get off. The organisation was poor and information poorer, they had parted us with our money and no one seemed to care, a sorry end to our anniversary celebration Cruise, which was supposed to be the trip of a life time. When I got home I wrote to the CEO of Celebrity, nearly 2 months later, I received a reply, not from him but a Customer relations representative I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, it appears it was everybody's fault but theirs, the bottom line was, that they would pass my comments on to the various departments responsible, nothing mentioned was helping to restore my belief that this was a one off experience and that any further trips would be very different. I have now cancelled our booking for Hawaii next January, wild horses would not get me to part with my hard earned cash to go with Celebrity again,if you want true care and service with a smile go to P&O they rally know how to do it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
This is what I hope will be an informative review. Probably kind of long, but I've got lots to share; some good, some bad and some general information which you may find helpful. We (my husband and another couple) booked our cruise ... Read More
This is what I hope will be an informative review. Probably kind of long, but I've got lots to share; some good, some bad and some general information which you may find helpful. We (my husband and another couple) booked our cruise approximately 9 months in advance. We thought the idea of spending Christmas away from home at the tip of South America sounded like a good way to spend the holidays. I'm 45 and my husband is 52. Originally we booked cabin 6142. We thought having a balcony would be the way to go, especially if it was cold outside and we didn't want to brave the upper decks. First of all, you have to understand, that I'm like a dog with a bone, when I can find a better deal, I will search, and search and search until I've driven everyone nuts. Everyday, I would get on the Celebrity website to check our prices, I'd heard they will occasionally have a special, and the only way to take advantage of it is to see it being advertised and to call your travel agent and have it adjusted. Please note, that travel agents don't have time to look everyday, but if you do, you may save yourselves hundreds of dollars. One day, I noticed the price had dropped $500 per person on the CC or Concierge level. I thought what the heck, for only $200 more, we can have all the amenities that come along with it you know, the pre-embarkation, the luxury robes, etc. We instantly decided this would be a good thing, so we jumped at the opportunity. I still continued to check the prices on a daily basis, and there was another $200 per person drop a few weeks later. So, now we had saved $800 each and to top it off, I noticed an aft cabin come available so we snagged it as well. As if things couldn't get any better, a couple of weeks before we sailed another aft cabin became empty so our friends got that one! In case you've never been in an aft cabin, the balconies are HUGE something 10 by 20 (I may be off on my measurements, but not by much). Prior to leaving, we had to pack for cold weather, being that we live on the beach in So. California, we didn't have anything much warmer than a windbreaker. Then came the luggage packing; since you can't have any pieces of luggage that weigh over 50 lbs, it makes packing a little tricky. We wanted to have only 3 bags plus 2 carry-ons. We always pack an extra duffel bag for dirty laundry for the trip home. My husband would step on the scale, I'd hand him a full suitcase, and then we would make some adjustments.  It's so exciting getting ready for a trip! Now, on to the trip We left out of San Diego for Buenos Aires. We flew American Airlines from San Diego to Dallas, and Dallas to Buenos Aires. The travel time took about 16 hours, of which 14 hours were on the plane. My husband is 6'2", and I'm 5'11", so we were mighty uncomfortable. We took the red-eye flight so we arrived in BA somewhere around 9:30 a.m. Buenos Aires: It is summer in Buenos Aires in December, so it was HOT. Hot and very muggy, it was somewhere around 97 degrees. When we got thru customs, there was a woman waiting for us with a large CELEBRITY sign. She told us we would be transferred by bus to the Sheraton. We seemed to wait for what seemed like an eternity for another couple of passengers, but probably we were just tired and wanted to get the show on the road. We arrived at the Sheraton around 11:00 a.m we proceeded to check in easily and then went to the room and crashed. We got up around 3:00 and decided to see some sights. We headed for La Boca district, and did some street vendor shopping and watched some tango dancers that danced right on the streets. We were so hot; we stopped and had a beer with some local empanadas. If you've never had an empanada, I recommend you try one. They are a pastry filled with meat (carne) and they look somewhat like a calzone. We found some handmade scarves, leather wallets and sweaters made from Alpaca wool. For those of you that have never been to Buenos Aires, I highly recommend visiting the city. The exchange rate makes things very affordable. We took a taxi from the Hotel to the pier and it was something like $3.00. Dinner was equally inexpensive, but very good. We went to a BBQ in Argentina they are known for their BBQs. They BBQ over coals, everything from beef, lamb, pork, sausage, etc. The meat is wonderful. I recommend trying everything as long as it's cooked. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the beef. The vegetables are also ripe and tasty, nothing like our store bought pithy tomatoes we get. We also bought 4 bottles of wine from the restaurant, and the total came to $7 U.S. dollars! That night, we took a cab (about $6) to the casino that we saw when we went to dinner. The casino was 2 paddle boats (something like you would envision going up the Mississippi). Exchanging pesos for dollars was interesting. We each took $100 U.S., and they would give us chips to play, but when were finished, they paid us the first hundred back in U.S. dollars, but the remaining balance in pesos. We found that most places took U.S. dollars, but the cabs only took pesos. The next morning, we wanted to get to the ship early (I'm one of the eager ones that likes to sign up for massages, etc). So we were prepared to take a cab to the port. However, there was a representative from Celebrity at the Hotel, and she said no one would be boarding before 2:00 p.m. Me, not being all that trusting, and hating to be shuttled anywhere still convinced my husband to take a cab. Our friends chose to wait at the hotel and do their pre-booking so they could get on the ship whenever it was ready. We took all of our luggage with us to the pier. The representative was very evasive in my mind, but I figured they wanted to keep people together rather than have everyone wandering around. Celebrity had set up a huge conference room at the hotel with coffee & pastries for everyone (this also seemed odd to me, because they already fed us breakfast). Anyway, we got to the pier around 11:00 a.m. and a porter took our bags and then we settled down at a little coffee shop to wait. We had a bird's eye view of the embarkation area, and we were 1st in line to board the ship. A woman from X did stop by and informed us there was a bus that would take us to the Sheraton so we could be comfortable until the ship was ready - ready for what????? I've never in my 10 cruises seen this happen before. We told her we just came from the Hotel and were happy just to wait until 2:00. After that, they pretty much kept people from coming into the terminal, they just boarded them up and took them to the hotel. After a while, people with masks and what I call Haz Mat suits were seen coming and going. They were spraying and wiping down everything in sight. We couldn't see the ship, only the embarkation area. This doesn't look right to me, or smell right for that matter, but I keep thinking that at least the ship will be clean and possible this is a preventative type of maintenance. Still no one would answer any questions. Eventually, a woman got on a loudspeaker and announced something about making sure you ALWAYS wash your hands and to use the sanitation stations located almost everywhere. I don't think anyone could understand what she was saying because of the acoustics in the terminal. We finally got in line to get checked in when the bus loads of people from the Sheraton started to arrive. They allowed them to board about 30 minutes before everyone else. (Oh well, I made the wrong call, we should have stayed at the hotel). We were still first in line, and we finally got to board.  It was weird when we got on the ship, I was anticipating that fun feeling when you first step onboard, but instead all I saw was people spraying, and spraying and spraying. It's not real comforting seeing everyone with masks on either. No one offered us champagne; it was just sitting on a platter/table while people were spraying bleach on everything. Trying to not let this damper my mood, we went to our room and checked it out. We were so fortunate to have this wonderful aft cabin I can't even tell you! My husband was beat, so he lay down to take a nap and I went exploring. I went to the spa area and took the tour, booked a couple of massages, signed up for the Persian Gardens ($99 pp) and confirmed our reservations at the specialty restaurant. My first impressions of the ship were so-so, not because of the spraying of bleach, but the lack of charm in my opinion. The art work was funky and I thought the Christmas decorations were tacky. They appeared to be pulled out of a box from storage, they were dusty and lacked luster. I'm not a big Christmas fanatic, so this really didn't bother me, just an observation. The ship is huge, but easy to navigate. There is some normal wear; none of this bothered me either. When I say normal, I mean there are some places that could use some paint, the bed spreads are wearing out, the railings around the deck need to be lacquered. The flooring looked good. The hardest part to overlook was the bleach marks. When the chrome railing on the stairs was sprayed, they were wiped down, but there was still a film leftover. This would run down the glass and leave streaks. In the elevators, and on the slot machines, they would spray and then there would be streak marks running down the chrome/metal/glass. The ship never had the ship shape look. It was never in the 13 glitzy like one comes to expect. When my husband woke up, we went to the Trellis Restaurant to find out where our table was. I know some people are excited about being seated with other people, and many look forward to it, but frankly when we found out we were seated at a table for 10, I was rather disappointed. We could have asked to be changed, I've done it before, but the late seating was full, and the maitre'd was being bombarded by others, so we just left. We ultimately decided to eat at the specialty restaurant for 4 nights and order room service for a few more, and eat sushi / pizza on the rest. We also were invited to share a table with some other cruisers we meet which was a lot of fun. Let me talk about the food for a minute. Some things I really like, others I thought were pitiful. The escargot, breadsticks were wonderful, the lobster was the best I've ever eaten. The NY steaks were pathetic. I wasn't keen on any of their salads, the buffet was an embarrassment. The sushi was better than expected but not what you would expect from a sushi restaurant. I would say it is better than store sushi. There was no sashimi, but I made my own. The rice was soft. The variety is your standard: eel, shrimp, tuna, salmon, and your basic rolls, tuna/cream cheese, vegetarian, spicy tuna & California. The pizza wasn't bad and I ate it several times. The lunch menu was pretty basic and lacked flavor in my opinion. It seems like they used whatever was left over from the night before to make some kind of dish. The alternate dining area wasn't open on this cruise (I was told for a couple of reasons). I was told there were too many kids, and because of the norovirus breakout from the cruise before. This left the basic pasta bar, salad bar & buffet. The pasta bar tended to be the same thing everyday and wasn't real good. The salad bar was ok, but it was also the same day in and day out. Everything was served by the crew. We couldn't even get a packet of sugar for our coffee without having a crew member give it to us. The U.S. Dining room (specialty restaurant) was acceptable, but I wouldn't want to do it everyday, it was just too long of a meal. The service was great. I had the steak Diane, and my husband had lamb chops. Both were good, although I liked the steak better. The goat cheese souffle was nice, but it was cold (maybe it was supposed to be). The desserts were a matter of taste, but I think they looked better than they tasted. The cheese tray was fun, and probably my most favorite part of the dinner. We did eat in the wine cellar one night, and that was nice my favorite part of the U.S. Dining Restaurant is the fact that it is quieter than the main dining area. I enjoy being able to talk rather than hearing what I call white noise. This was a holiday cruise, and there were kids everywhere. I really never thought much about cruising during a holiday, but I will never do it again. There were over 100 kids on this cruise but it seemed like 500. I don't understand why kids were allowed to play chase in the casino, or why a parent would put a baby in diapers in the Jacuzzi. Be that as it may, I now understand the frequent threads regarding taking children on cruises. We signed up for the Persian Spa at a rate of $99 pp, and I went the first day and it was so hot, I couldn't sit down, even when using a towel. My feet were almost blistered. I asked if this was normal, and they checked it out, and they agreed it was WAY too hot. My husband thoroughly loved the steam rooms, but I'm one of those that hates getting ready in the morning then getting all steamed up and having to re-do my make-up/hair. So, for me I don't think I would do it again, but my husband says it's worth it. For my husband's birthday, we did a Rasul Spa Treatment. This is a treatment for couples. You are given some salt scrub, mud and lots of different lotions to rub all over each other. Inside the area there is a steam room and a separate shower. What you do in the room is entirely up to you, as long as you are done in 60 minutes. This was fun, and we did have a ball smearing each other up. I think the cost was somewhere around $99. I also booked 2 other massages, one my husband took, and the other I had. What more can I say, massages are wonderful. I had the mud treatment with a full body massage. I told my masseuse not to try and sell me products (I hate the sales pitch), and she didn't so she got tipped better. Casino action I love casinos, and I loved this casino. The dealers and waiters were the nicest people. Maybe I liked it because we actually won money. That never happens. I played a $1.00 slot machine the first night and won $3,000. After that, we played 3 card poker, roulette, black jack and Caribbean Stud Poker. It didn't matter what we played, we won. We won enough to pay off our cruise tab and still take home $8,000. Something was wrong with this picture, and I'm still dumbfounded. My husband even won twice playing bingo, and he only played 3 times. People were even coming up to us and saying aren't you the one who won? As for the shows I can't comment on them because we didn't go. We never were tempted by the shows because they all seemed to be boring to me. I'm sure the Xylophone guy was good, but I was anticipating a much better variety. This goes for the musicians as well. They were good, but not great. There wasn't a whole lot of types of music to choose from. They did play classical / harp/ piano but there weren't different themes like blues, rock, new age, piano, etc. We were disappointed in the selections. Ports of Call: Montevideo: We didn't take a tour, we just walked into town. There are a lot of cafes along one of the streets; they were serving BBQ beef, pork, lamb, etc. We ate at one of the little BBQs where everything is cooked over hot coals. I have to say, this was probably the best filet of beef I've ever eaten in all my life. I can't even tell you how good it was. I had a salad, huge beer and the biggest filet ever and the total bill came to $17 U.S. dollars. Where we live, this same meal would have cost us $150. Simply amazing!! Puerto Madryn: We took a private tour out to see the penguins at Punto Tombo. The Magellan penguins are amazing little creatures. There are literally thousands of them nesting on the beach. They aren't afraid of humans, which is kind of sad. I'm so embarrassed about how people acted around the little guys. I saw people trying to pet them, they laid down and had their pictures taken right next to the nests, I even saw kids chasing them. The weather was beautiful; I wore a tank top and got sunburned. The 2 hour bus trip was a long one (each way) but our guide was wonderful and very knowledgeable about the area & the wildlife. Would I do this excursion again??? Yes! Cape Horn: We were lucky enough to get close enough to see Cape Horn. It's not much to look at, just an island, but at least I can say I saw it. The weather was rough for a couple of days, quite a few people got sick. I personally like it, but there were many that hated life for a few sea days. Ushuaia: I loved this port; the mountains were beautiful and covered with snow. It was super windy and cold. Not piercing cold, just cold. We hired a cab driver for something $15 U.S. dollars to drive us around for a couple of hours. It was Christmas, so we tipped him $50.  We toured the prison, and this was worth seeing. We also drove up the mountain to get a good view of the ship, city and mountains. Our driver also recommended a place to eat King Crab so we got a taste of some local cuisine. I had mussels and crab. We did a little shopping and then headed back to the ship. The views from our balcony were spectacular. We had dinner at the U.S. Dining Room, and it wasn't as good as the previous visit. I ordered my lamb med-rare, and it was very rare. I could have sent it back, but I wasn't that hungry anyway due to eating in Ushuaia earlier in the day. My husband had some kind of lobster pasta, which he said was ok. After dinner we meet up with some friends and had a cocktail. I felt like I was starting to catch a cold, so I remember taking some Alka-Seltzer Cold medicine around 11:00 p.m. We had a cocktail and headed off to bed. Around 1:00 a.m. I got up and got sick.  This continued every 30 minutes, and then I started to get diarrhea. Around 3:00 a.m. I was having both symptoms at the same time not real pleasant (sorry). This went on until 9:00 a.m. when we decided to head toward the medical facility on deck 1. Let me tell you, that is one long walk from deck 9 aft. The medical staff & doctor were really nice. I figured I had the norovirus, and was prepared for quarantine. All I wanted was to quit throwing up. My husband had to fill out tons of forms asking what I had eaten in the last 7 days. This was tough, because I can't remember what I ate yesterday. I really had no desire to fill out forms, so my husband did the best he could. They hooked me up to an IV because I was very dehydrated. They also gave me some medicine to keep me from vomiting. (Thank God). I feel asleep until the IV was finished. At this time the doctor came and explained that I had to be in quarantine for 72 hours and my husband for 24 hours. At the time I wasn't upset because we had 3 sea days coming up and I figured since we had an aft cabin I would be okay. They also took a blood sample and asked me for a stool sample. I complied with both. They also informed me if I was caught outside my room that they would put me off in the next port. Life in quarantine for the 1st day wasn't so bad; I was tired and slept most of the day. Day 2 & especially day 3 were horrible. I felt like a caged animal, I paced the floors, ordered room service at every opportunity, and pretty much was a grump. I understood the quarantine, and complied but I was going bonkers. The guest relations called me 2-3 times a day to check up on me (I think they were checking to see if I was still in my room). My cabin steward Ben came in and changed my sheets and disinfected my room with some kind of bleach. We called the medical facility to find out the results of the tests, and they kept telling me they weren't done yet. I asked if perhaps I was sick from eating the mussels and crab while in Ushuaia they told me it didn't matter what I was sick from, I would still be in quarantine for 72 hours. The bottom line is, they never did tell me what the results were. Oh well. The day I got out, was the day were docked in Puerto Montt. I missed Punta Arenas, but we were docked there on Christmas Day, so I was told I didn't miss much. My quarantine was officially over at 9:00 a.m., and believe me, I was out of my room at 9:00 sharp. When we swiped our card to get off the ship, my card beeped, and I must have had this pale look on my face, but the crew member pushed some buttons and let me get pass. Puerto Montt: We got off the ship and did some tourist shopping. We also visited the local fish market. I was tempted to try some of their fish, but after getting sick I thought twice. One of our new found friends rented a van, so we all jumped in and headed to Puerto Vargas. This was a cute German town about 20 minutes drive from Puerto Montt. It was extremely windy that day, so we just walked around for a bit, then stopped and got a beer. We then went and had Mexican food. Pretty good Mexican food too! After that, we headed back to the ship. Sea Day: Fairly rough this day, but I liked it my husband didn't. This cruise was definitely rougher than most cruises I've been on. There were lots of people ill. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly. Our flight wasn't until late in the evening, so we chose to hang out on deck 10 until most of the people had already left. We also had our luggage taken directly to the airport, so we didn't have to worry about finding all our bags. I give Celebrity a 5 star rating on this. Valparaiso/Santiago: We took a taxi to Vina del Mar and went to the most beautiful casino. It would compare to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Afterwards, we headed to Santiago to catch our plane (11:30 p.m). When we got to the airport, we saw the flight was canceled, and the American Airlines line was full of people trying to get home. AA was re-routing some passengers and putting others up in a hotel. When we finally got to the counter (after standing in line for 4 hours), they told us we would be able to fly out the following night via LAN Chile Airlines. They also would put us up at the Sheraton, and gave us a dinner and free lunch.  Not bad, right? The Sheraton was beautiful and the meals exquisite. I'm not here to bash Celebrity, but they could sure take a lesson on some good food from the Sheraton! We were treated wonderfully. The next day we took a private tour around Santiago which ended up at the airport. The LAN Chile Airlines was WONDERFUL. American is 2nd rate to them. All in all, we had a nice trip. The itinerary was great. Would I do Celebrity again? I'm not sure. The excess amount of children on this cruise made this trip almost unbearable. The food was so-so. The crew was superb. I don't hold Celebrity responsible for my illness. Things happen, and it just happened to be my turn to get sick. As far as the memories go, I met some terrific people and saw some places I doubt I will ever see again. Will I cruise again???? You bet. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
Celebrity Infinity South America (February 25-March 11 2007) --- Buenos Aires, Argentina (February 24-25, 2007) --- Buenos Aires is a modern city where (as my wife says) the people wear nice shoes. The people are relaxed and cordial. You ... Read More
Celebrity Infinity South America (February 25-March 11 2007) --- Buenos Aires, Argentina (February 24-25, 2007) --- Buenos Aires is a modern city where (as my wife says) the people wear nice shoes. The people are relaxed and cordial. You can walk into a local restaurant without everyone in the place staring at you. The weather was hot and beautiful the entire time we were in Buenos Aires. One thing we noticed throughout the trip is that English is not as prevalent in South America as in other places we have cruised. If you're going to deal with the locals on your own then you'll need to brush up on your Spanish language skills or at the very least bring a phrase book. Getting around by taxi is easy and inexpensive. Just be aware that few of the drivers speak English. It costs us about $20USD to get from the airport to the center of town. Most local rides in the city will cost you about $3USD. We stayed at the Claridge Hotel. This hotel is nice but the bathroom was very small. The included breakfast was good but not great. The best part about the hotel is that it is centrally located and it's very easy to walk to shopping on Calle Florida (street) and nearby restaurants. If you go right on Calle Florida from the Claridge, there is a park about eight blocks down that is very beautiful with a great view. There's a lot of shopping along Calle Florida. Every leather product imaginable is available here at reasonable prices. There was one restaurant near the hotel that we enjoyed so much we ate there three times. It's called "La Pasada de 1820". Out the front door of the Claridge, go left, and it's on the corner. We went to the Recoleta Cemetery. Don't miss this, even if you don't like cemeteries. This place is a photographer's dream for architectural photos. There is a large market with local vendors outside of the cemetery. There are a lot of well-made crafts. Vendors are nice, not pushy. We ate outside of the Recoleta Cemetery at the Cafe Victoria. It was cool, pleasant, and the food was good but nothing spectacular. We also took a taxi to the San Telmo Market. This is an antique, fruit, meat market. It's not very big and can be hot inside. We took a taxi to the port. There was no one to handle the luggage from the taxi to the drop point. We were very hot and sweaty by the time we got ready to check in for the cruise. Cruise check in was quick and efficient. Our ship was scheduled to board at 2pm. We boarded around 1pm and concluded we could have boarded as early as 11am. Our cabin was on the port side of the ship but we think it would have been better to be on the starboard side for this direction around South America and the way the ship docked at some of the ports. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- Montevideo, Uruguay (February 26, 2007) --- The ship arrived about an hour late. The weather was sunny and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Where we docked there was a green painted pedestrian path that led to the port market area. Someone handed us a map as we got off of the ship. The majority of the port market is indoors. There is some shopping but mostly food vendors cooking meat on open grills. We ate some sausages and they were really good. Not much shopping here. There was some shopping at the "Constitution Plaza" but none at the "Independence Plaza". It's safe to walk the 8-10 blocks from the ship or market area to the plazas. It is clean, safe, and the local people are courteous. It helps to know some Spanish. The evening attire on the ship was informal. --- At Sea (February 27, 2007) --- Moderate seas. The evening attire on the ship was formal. --- Puerto Madryn, Argentina (February 28, 2007) --- Strong winds and choppy seas overnight. Arrived 1.5 hours late. The weather was sunny and 70+ degrees Fahrenheit. Disembarking from the ship was very crowded and disorganized. For some reason they had one small gangway that really inhibited people getting off of the ship. There are two piers in Puerto Madryn. An NCL ship docked at the pier in the center of town and our ship docked at the port farther away. There was a free shuttle bus from our ship to the center of town (which is at the other pier). We were expecting a very small quaint port but it turned out this is a larger more bustling town than that. We weren't up for the long ride to Punto Tumbo as we've seen penguins a number of times before. We rented a car from Hertz. The Hertz location was on the main street about a block from where the shuttle bus dropped us off. They are closed from 1pm to 5pm so plan accordingly. We had decided to drive to Gaiman for tea. Directions to Gaiman: From the main street (Roca), turn right on Gales and go about 2 miles. Bear right when you see a sign for national route 3. (You'll know you've gone too far if the asphalt ends.) You'll go less than a mile and come to a roundabout. Follow the sign to Trelew. We were surprised to find that it is very arid and desert-like here. There is nothing to see between Puerto Madryn and Gaiman. You'll then drive about 60K to Trelew. Before you enter Trelew city proper you'll come to a roundabout. Go to the right toward Gaiman. After about 15K you'll come to another roundabout. Go to the left to enter the town of Gaiman. You can go to the tourist information center on the right just as you enter the town. At the information center you can go to the restroom and get a map of the town. From there you can drive through a neat one-way tunnel that takes you through a hill to the other side of the town. This is definitely fun if you're adventurous. In Gaiman we went to a quaint tea house. They had great tea and snacks. We couldn't possibly eat all of the snacks they brought us. There's not much shopping here so we walked down the river which was good for a few pictures. If you're looking for un-crowded and quaint, then this is your town. There is some shopping in Puerto Madryn along the main street and for a depth of several blocks. It seems that many places are closed from 1pm to 5pm. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- At Sea (March 1, 2007) --- Moderate seas. The evening attire on the ship was informal. --- Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (March 2, 2007) --- Moderate seas. This is a tendered port. The tender trip from the ship to the dock is 15-25 minutes. The weather was cold and rainy, then sunny, then cold and rainy, then sunny, etc. We walked around the town. Everything here seems to be centered on tourism. There are quite few shops here. Ate at a Brasserie about two blocks up the hill from the tender pier. It was a very good lunch. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- At Sea (March 3, 2007) --- Moderate seas. The evening attire on the ship was formal. --- Cape Horn, Chile (March 4, 2007) --- Moderate seas. The captain said it was unusually calm. There was a lot of beautiful scenery. The ship sat at the end of Cape Horn and slowly rotated around for about an hour so everyone could get pictures from every side. The evening attire on the ship was informal. --- Ushuaia, Argentina (March 5, 2007) --- It was cold and windy when we docked. It was intermittently snowing and sunny all day. We negotiated a cab near the port. It was $120 for 4 people for about 3 hours. This included a tour of the "Terra Del Fuego National Park", a brief tour of the city, and a trip up to the "Martial Glacier". The entrance fee to the park was an additional 20pesos each (about $6USD). Our taxi driver spoke a good bit of English but didn't talk a lot. The park itself was beautiful and well worth the visit. When we got up to the ski lift to take us to the glacier it was snowing so hard that they weren't letting people on the lift. The taxi driver then took us to the restaurant "Kaupe" where we had made a reservation before leaving home. This is a beautiful restaurant overlooking the port. It's about a 6-block walk from the ship. Very nice. More expensive than the other restaurants where we'd eaten in South America. This city was absolutely beautiful. It's surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has a bit of a frontier town feel to it. We consider it one of the most beautiful ports we've visited. It definitely feels like a tourist port. There's a good bit of shopping near the port but much of it is redundant. It was beautiful cruising out of the town with photo opportunities everywhere. Glaciers, snow-capped mountains, etc. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- Punta Arenas, Chile (March 6, 2007) --- This was a tendered port with a very short ride to the pier. It's just a few blocks to walk into town. This is a bustling small town. It's has more of a local feel to rather than a tourist feel. There were some nice shopping stalls at the plaza in the center of town. Lots of Alpaca sweaters, hats, gloves, etc. Also leather, lapis and other items. We ate at "Sotito's Restaurant" which is very near the port. It doesn't look like much from the outside but it is nice inside, the food is very good and inexpensive. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- Straits of Magellan/Chilean Fjords (March 7, 2007) --- Seas were choppy overnight, but once in the Fjords it was like being on a lake. Beautiful cruising between the mountains. We were very close to shore and beautiful views most of the time. The ship went up to the face of the Skua Glacier which was incredible. There were chunks of ice around the ship for many miles of the trip up into the glacier. The evening attire on the ship was informal. --- Chilean Fjords (March 8, 2007) --- Cool and cloudy with intermittent showers. The water was as calm as a pond. Very beautiful cruising. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- Puerto Montt, Chile (March 9, 2007) --- Cool. Cloudy in the morning, rain in the afternoon. Temperature in the low 60's. This is a tendered port and it's about two miles from the tender pier to the center of town. We walked into town but there's not a lot to see along the way. We should have taken a taxi. This is also a very bustling city. We decided to rent a car here and go on our own. The driving here was easy and the roads are very good. The people at Budget car rental were extremely friendly and even gave us a ride back to the pier at the end of the day. We drove to Puerto Varas, then on to Petrohue (pronounced petro-way) falls. The drive was very beautiful even though it was cloudy and rainy. Petrohue falls is definitely worth the visit. The main tourist part of the falls is on a prepared walkway, is very crowded, but worth it for the pictures. There is a trail that goes to the right down the river and it is worth a 30-minute round-trip walk down that trail. It's very beautiful and you can walk down to the edge of the river and the rushing rapids. Because of the clouds, we only had one glimpse of the Osorno Volcano during the day. There are many small restaurants along the way but they get crowded with tour buses during lunch. It can take a long time to get your bill in many of the restaurants in South America. If you're in a hurry, ask for the bill when they bring your food so you don't lose a half-hour settling up at the end of the meal. The biggest problem here is that the ship needed to be in port longer. We were able to get on a tender about 9:30AM and the last returning tender was 4:15PM. That doesn't leave much time to explore the outlying areas, eat, do some shopping, etc. The evening attire on the ship was formal. --- At Sea (March 10, 2007) --- Calm seas. Sunny day. The evening attire on the ship was casual. --- Valparaiso/Santiago, Chile (March 11, 2007) --- We arrived at the port on time. The weather was mild and overcast. Disembarkation from the ship was smooth but we had to take a bus from the ship to the terminal. There was another ship disembarking at the same time so it was pretty wild around the luggage and transportation areas. We booked a full day private tour for four people through Port Compass. This tour was around $500 for all of us. The tour covered Valparaiso, Vina Del Mar the Wine Country, and Santiago. The tour people were waiting for us with a sign when we exited the luggage area. This tour was really good and our tour guide Eduardo was great. They dropped us at our hotel at the end of the tour. It was hot and sunny in the Wine Country and Santiago. We stayed at the Hotel Orly in Santiago. This hotel was highly rated on Trip Advisor but we considered it mediocre because the rooms were small and a bit worn. The included breakfast wasn't that great. The hotel desk staff was excellent and very helpful in giving advice, arranging taxis, luggage storage, airport transportation, etc. Be sure to negotiate the price with the taxi driver before your trip. Some of them don't run the meter and we heard that you can be taken advantage of. We took a taxi to a market called "Los Dominicos" in the Las Condes area. This market was incredible and we consider it one of the best artisan markets we have visited in the world. The market is fairly large and nested among trees so you don't roast in the sun while you shop. There are dozens of small shops, food stalls, and benches for relaxing (for the husbands). Someone told us the market was closed on Monday but it turned out that at least 75% of the shops were open. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
My wife and I flew from Miami to Buenos Aires for a 14 day cruise on Infinity for Rio de Janeiro and Carnaval. We flew to BA 3 days before the cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed the city. It is not unique, in fact you constantly compare it ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Miami to Buenos Aires for a 14 day cruise on Infinity for Rio de Janeiro and Carnaval. We flew to BA 3 days before the cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed the city. It is not unique, in fact you constantly compare it with other cities, especially Paris and Old San Juan. It is, however, friendly, inexpensive, easy to get around and has great food. We stayed at the Plaza, an old hotel, now operated by Marriott. They have updated it and done a marvellous job in making it modern, but keeping the ambiance of the place intact. This was centrally located in Plaza San Martin, and close to everything including the port. The service was great, the food was fine and the rooms very comfortable, especially the beds. Avenida Florida, the pedestrian shopping street, is right outside the door and we spent the first day simply walking around the central area, and looking at the Plaza de Mayo, the Avenida 9 de Julio, Avenida de Mayo and the shopping area. It is in a small easy to walk area. Not to be missed are Cafe Tortoni, the Cathedral and Rosado Palace, The Opera, which is currently closed for renovations, and the shopping streets of Florida and Lavalle. Street entertainment is everywhere and it is very user friendly. Great food is very close at Puerto Madera, where there are many fine restaurants. This old warehouse area is being modernized and will be even better, I am sure, in years to come. Note that many do not open until 7-8pm as South Americans eat dinner very late. We ate one of the best steaks we have ever eaten in Puerto Madera, the first night. On Saturday morning we walked to La Recoletta and visited the cemetery. After that we took a cab to La Boca and walked the small area of El Camenito. As others have said before this is photogenic, but nothing special. Shopping is better in San Telmo or along Avenida Florida. We had another great dinner and the next day walked to San Telmo, just past Avenida de Mayo and walked around the large flea markets, antique stores and arts and crafts vendors in San Telmo and around Plaza Dorrego. My wife loved the jewelry and purchased quite a few pairs of earrings, bracelets and necklaces. We also bought some leather belts, which were less than $10 each. The Infinity did not sail until 11pm, so we were in no hurry to get to the port. We enjoyed the morning and then checked out and took a 5 minute ride to the port. This was the only blip of the cruise. The organization shoreside was not good, and check in was not good by Celebrity standards. It was not bad, just not up to their high standards. I will not review the ship as many have done so before. Enough to say that we love the Milennium class ships and this was the fourth of these fine ships that we have sailed on. We asked our cabin steward for a bed pad, and it was in place within an hour. As with the slow shoreside check in luggage took a long time to get to us, but we got it ok, and unpacked. We chose a balcony cabin on Deck 7, because we loved the same one on Milennium last year in Europe. If you are going to exotic destinations I feel that you should maximize your exposure to them. We had not expected much of Montevideo, our first port of call, but as with many travel surprises, do not always believe what you read. We had a great Monday simply walking the old town and enjoying the liveliness of the city and it's residents. Another great surprise was the incredible lunch we had at the Old Port at a lunch counter. The beef was among the best we had ever eaten, and Uruguay is really inexpensive, another plus. Beef is cooked on open coal grills and the flavor is incredible. 2 days at sea rested us up for the first beach port of Porto Belo. This is definitely a beach-lover's paradise, as are all of the ports on this itinerary. You can not go wrong if you go to Bombas Beach or Bombinhas Beach. We stayed at Bombinhas Beach and had a great day. There are restaurants and bars along the beach, and limited shopping 1 block behind the beach. It is not necessary to go into town, therefore. The seafood on the beach is as fresh as you will ever eat, and the shrimp comes prepared any way you want. We tried it several different ways and did not find any we did not love. There is something magical about drinking beer and eating fresh seafood at a restaurant right on the beach. This is something that we found at all of the Brazilian beaches. Brazilian hospitality is warm, friendly and they love the beach. We live on the beach and we do not hold a candle to the beach communities that we found in Brazil. With it being the holiday weekend before Carnaval the beaches were crowded, but it was never uncomfortable. Umbrellas covered almost the entire beach and vendors walked through the crowds selling everything from newspapers and magazines to clothes, food and beverage. There was no pressure to buy, however, and it was the same amazing sight at all of the beaches we visited. After another day at sea we called at Buzios. This little town is cute, but not what we had expected. Shopping is overpriced and too trendy for our tastes. The beaches are, however, all that you expect. We walked to Joau Fernandes Beach, and stopped at the beaches on the way, enjoying them also. Many vendors are available, food is great, and we had lunch at one of the restaurants right on the beach. The fresh seafood, especially the calamari, was excellent. There are few places in the world that are truly unique. Rio is one of those. It is spectacular. Sailing in and viewing Sugarloaf, Corcovado, and it's statue of Christ, and the early morning light coloring everything with a bright orange glow was truly breathtaking. What makes this cruise so great is that you get to enjoy Rio for 3 full days and 2 nights during Carnaval. We spent the first day visiting Corcovado and Sugarloaf. To say the views are spectacular is a major understatement. As with Rio and Carnaval, this is something that everyone should do in their lives at least once. Celebrity includes tickets for the Samobodrome and the Samba Parade for all passengers. This is a major plus. We went on Sunday night, along with half of the passengers. The other half go on the Monday night. Half of the Samba "Schools" perform on Sunday and the other half on Monday. There is no difference which night you visit on. Each of the 13 schools (they are not schools really, just called that) performs for 75 minutes and the 6 or 7 schools take all night to complete their parade. These are magnificent, and each school would put any other parade in the world to shame. On Monday we took a cab to Copacabana Beach and walked all day along Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. These live up to their hype and truly are great. If people watching is important to you then this is a must. We had never seen hundreds of thousands of people on a beach before, but these beaches certainly had that many people on them. We swam on Ipanema Beach and had a great day. We ate dinner at Marius, at the Leme end of Copacabana Beach. There are 2 restaurants, one specializing in seafood and the other in meat. We ate at the seafood one, because they also serve meat, carved right at the table, Brazilian style. Prices are reasonable, but the food, was spectacular. Our only regret was that we were not more hungry! Rio has a reputation for being a little dangerous with regards to crime. We heeded the warnings here and took off all of our jewelry and gold chains. It is a good thing that we did, as we witnessed a tourist being pulled from his bicycle by a criminal yanking the chain from his neck. As many have said if you make yourself a target then this is what happens. Leave the jewelry, wallets and purses back at the ship, and you will not be a target. On the last day we went back to Copacabana, walked and enjoyed the beaches and water, and took many more pictures. Sailing out that evening came way too early! The next 3 days were spent at sea, which we love. You can relax and do whatever you want. Whether you like large ships or not this is where they pay dividends. There are so many choices you have as the facilities are so varied. Large ships, such as Infinity have indoor and outdoor pools. (One of the last sea days was cold and wet and allowed many to still enjoy the indoor pool) The cinema, shops, casino, bars, lounges, quiet corners, room service, alternative restaurants and all of that extra space is designed perfectly, I think, for those long lazy sea days. The last day on this cruise is an overnight in Buenos Aires. As we had arrived 3 days before the cruise we simply walked around the central city and enjoyed people watching, and did a little shopping. On Sunday disembarkation happens early, and most US bound flights do not leave until late on Sunday night. We booked a day room at the Plaza and relaxed for the day. This was a great idea as we did not have to spend more than a few hours at the airport, whereas many passengers spent 10-12 hours there. All in all this was not an itinerary that we had thought much about. It was, however, a great surprise. Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Porto Belo and Buzios are all fabulous places to visit. Rio, however, is truly unique and Carnaval is nothing short of spectacular. This is one experience that everyone should share at least once in their lives. Please note that, should you book this cruise, you will need a Brazilian visa, good for 5 years, costing you $100 each. Even though you start and finish in Argentina you need a Brazilian visa, something which I do not think that the cruise lines should ignore, and something I found out about by accident. We cruised Australia 3 years ago, and Princess did not inform us of the need for a visa then either. This is an area where the traveller should be aware. All in all, however, Celebrity does a great job. The food and service are outstanding and the Infinity is a fabulous ship. This was our fifth Celebrity cruise, and 50 something overall. I hope that it will not be our last Celebrity cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. We have cruised Princess a couple of times and Holland America once in addition to three river cruises in Europe. We got an inside cabin on deck two and a senior citizen discount. (This could well ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. We have cruised Princess a couple of times and Holland America once in addition to three river cruises in Europe. We got an inside cabin on deck two and a senior citizen discount. (This could well be our choice when it comes to assisted living.) We got a really good fare on American from Chicago ($909 each) to Buenos Aires with a return from Santiago, and arrived in BA two days early so we could tour the city. We arranged with friends (ha! Our friend arranged) the tour guide to pick us up at the airport, we checked into our hotel (the Marriott at Plaza San Martin) and had breakfast, then took off on the tour with a special viewing of Evita's Mausoleum, the Boca district where a tango dancer got her picture taken with me while she patted me down trying to find my wallet, a tour of the suburbs, a rail trip and a boat trip on the Rio Plata. We returned for a rest and did some shopping on Calle Florida, especially at the leather shop. My wife bought a very inexpensive full length leather coat and I looked at heavy coats for Chicago winters. They were all too narrow in the shoulders (I'm an old fat white guy.) That evening we went to Taconeando for a superb tango experience. The food was adequate, but the dancing was out of sight. We were the only Americans there and everyone else sang along with the singers. Way double plus cool! No one spoke much English, but I got our group by on my surprisingly fluent 40 year old high school Spanish. And I speak food in any language. The next day we took a taxi to some of the outdoor markets and bought a few trinkets, had lunch at the hotel, and took taxis with our mongo baggage to the ship. Boarding the Infinity was not a great experience because of the bedlam at the pier. All baggage had to go through customs and screening, but it wasn't well organized. Because we had made internet reservations, we never received baggage tags and had to find someone who could help us with that. Once aboard, the steward who took us to our stateroom wandered around the deck looking for it until he finally found it, while we trailed him. Our cheap inside room on deck 2 was clean and reasonably sized. The bathroom was larger than on some ships where I could sit on the toilet, shave and shower at the same time. Our room steward was very pleasant and attentive. Our travel buddies had the stateroom next to us, and that worked out great. On the diagram when we chose the room there was a stairway, but it turned out to be the staff stairs, and we were right in the middle between elevators. We were fine with the room, especially since its price allows us to take more trips. Dining experiences: We ate at the Trellis every evening but one (I like to be waited on and I don't like to carry trays - I'm always afraid of tripping, not that I ever have), and that evening we went to the Argentine rodizio dinner on 10. It takes special reservations which must be made by telephone the morning of the dinner, which is announced in the daily program. There are only three or four during the cruise, so it's very competitive and the reservations fill up within 15 minutes. There is a suggested $2 tip per person for the dinner, which is a light buffet with heavy servings of meat. A "si" or "no" card on your table tells the servers if you want to try yet another kind of meat. We had three kinds of beef including brisket and filet to die for, lamb, pork, ham and chicken offered to us. We couldn't eat them all and by the time the dinner was over I felt as if I had eaten lead, my own fault. We ate breakfast in our room several times, and it was delivered exactly at the earliest time possible noted on the hang-on-the-doorknob card. When we ate in the Trellis, we found they had run out of certain juices. Dinner at the Trellis was fun with our travel buddies and a French couple who were charming (but exhausting to try to understand their accents). [A digression and my own rant here: everyone we met on board spoke English, pretty good English. Most of the native English speakers, however, spoke no other language, and I heard a lot of negative comments about learning a second language. One person even was ranting about people in the street not speaking English when he was off the ship. There is a certain level of xenophobia we need to address in the United States, I'm afraid.] The first three nights there were no escargots, and when my wife ordered a bottle of wine, the first three choices she made were not available. This was at the beginning of the cruise, and it seems reasonable to me that the cellars and larders and pantries would be fully stocked, then especially. By the middle of the cruise Bush Mills Irish Whiskey had run out. The meals, were for the most part very nicely done, I got extra vegetables when I asked for them, and the food was delicious. When the escargots finally were put on the menu, they too were delicious and I had them probably 8 times. The desserts were beautiful, but I usually ordered fruit. My tablemates complained, however that the crème brulee was soggy and the chocolate desserts weren't very chocolate-y. The best desserts were available at tea in the Cova Cafe on Deck 5. The pastries there were wonderful, much better than at dinner. I did not gain any weight while on board. Activities abounded, but they were not particularly well attended from what I could tell. The first trivia game had a group that had been on the ship earlier, and they knew all the answers, effectively shutting everyone else out. After that, few people seemed to attend. The bingo (which I played in 4th grade and only on a couple of other cruises) seemed flat, and the only audience participation was to boo those who had one square left. There was none of the singing, groaning, etc. that usually accompanies on-board bingo. The point, I think, is that in many ways the staff did not engage the passengers. On a sea day when I asked the guest relations desk if there was a place I could paint (watercolors) without being too public, they gave me the Board Room. It was a great place to work and pretty much out of public view. It was very gracious of them to allow me to use the room Shipboard sales were a problem because they did not seem well planned. When the two-hour sale of Cape Horn tee shirts took place on deck 10, it was again the same bedlam we saw at the pier boarding. The tables were set up in a confined space and suddenly there were people three and four deep. It was like the day after Thanksgiving at Wal-Mart. The staff even threatened to call security. The shoppers were out of control. I have been on cruises where similar sales were handled much better - and in less confined spaces so everyone had a chance to buy. Entertainment: The Celebrity singers and dancers put on terrific shows and the stage is a hydraulic marvel. There was a heavy bias toward Andrew Lloyd-Weber, but that's all right. There was also a wonderful concert pianist, Avner Arad, who played twice and did encores, and a flautist who was a great show-woman. A juggling act was a hoot, and a musical impersonator was terrific. Excursions: We took only a couple, the wild life-nature ones. Seeing penguins at Puerto Madryn in the hot dry desert next to the Atlantic was amazing. The rookery has thousands and they were very unafraid. Some tourists insisted on petting them despite warnings not to. I also took a catamaran from Ushuaia to see cormorants, sea lions, petrels and albatrosses. Sea life was wonderful and fascinating. The weather was fantastic, literally. It went from blinding horizontal snow, to sleet, rain, fog, bright sun and back again a couple times during the two - three hour excursion. I loved it. Ports of call: Were fascinating, and we were able to pick up tours that were far less expensive than the ones offered by the cruise. They turned out to be essentially the same as the Celebrity ones, but if they had been late, we would have been liable to get to the ship, not Celebrity. Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, was very interesting and the people were friendly. Ushuaia was beautiful. Puerto Montt and the lake district was also fascinating. Part of it looked like New Mexico and part like the Swiss Alps. Summary: Would I take this trip again? Probably. I would love to spend more time in Buenos Aires and Santiago. The wildlife. Would I take Celebrity? Maybe. There was no on-board laundry and the staff wasn't particularly engaging when it came to interactive at entertainment. The waiters and servers were wonderful, however, and EVERY staff member spoke every time s/he encountered us. I felt tipped to death. It seemed that every time I turned around there was another charge or tip required. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We have taken 35 cruises. This was our third Celebrity Cruse..2nd on the Infinity. We were lucky enough to be upgraded from concierge class to a Royal suite...If not for that, we would have been totally disappointed. The suite which we ... Read More
We have taken 35 cruises. This was our third Celebrity Cruse..2nd on the Infinity. We were lucky enough to be upgraded from concierge class to a Royal suite...If not for that, we would have been totally disappointed. The suite which we spent a lot of time in and the butler Alfred were both incredible. We wish we could always travel that way! Flew into Buenos Aires on a Pre-cruise package. The Airport greet was very disorganized and after having traveled for 18 hours we then had to wait at the airport for almost 3 hours prior to being taken to our Hotel, The Panamerican. We arrived there and the rooms were not ready, the staff was extremely rude...another 3 hour wait. The room we had was very dirty looking and unkept! We arranged our own tours of Buenos Aires,The Tigre Delta region and a Tango show through Ricardo at Defrantur Tour Co. Awesome tours.. Our guide Ana spoke beautiful English and customized the tour to our liking. Very reasonable! Boarding the ship went very smoothly and efficiently. We boarded at approximately 5pm after only about a 7 minute wait. We had the second seating for dinner.Our dining room service was very poor. The menu selections were mediocre to say the least. We were lucky if we were finished in time to see the 11pm shows. The shows were average, the cruise director older than most and quite "not funny" when trying to get a joke over. The ship activities were limited and the scheduling was such you had to check everyday to see the time and place for them. There was no regularity. The staff for the most part had no idea what was going on and whenever you had a question you had to go through many people before you got the correct answer. This was very frustrating! The ports were ok although we had to stay in Montevideo an extra day because the channel to the dock was closed to traffic due to an accident with the NCL Dream and a barge carrying containers of automobiles which had spilled out and sunk. However we were able to leave the next evening and pretty much got back on schedule. Our favorite tour was a private photo safari in Puerto Montt I had booked through ALsur Tour company.. Again our guide, George was awesome. Went above and beyond our expectations! Disembarking the ship in Valparaiso went very smoothly however we were dropped off at the Santiago airport very early after an 8 hour tour.. long before the check in lines opened so we had to stand for quite awhile. All in all we did have a restful and enjoyable time due to people we met and the suite, but would we sail Celebrity again? We'd really have to think about it! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
I think the previous reviewer must have been on a different ship to us. We were not at all sure of the Celebrity fleet, having never cruised on large liners before, but the Infinity lived up to most of our expectations. Firstly we chose ... Read More
I think the previous reviewer must have been on a different ship to us. We were not at all sure of the Celebrity fleet, having never cruised on large liners before, but the Infinity lived up to most of our expectations. Firstly we chose the ship because of the itinerary, starting in Buenos Aires, taking in the Chilean Fjords and ending in Valparaiso, however a major factor was also the fact that it is not particularly geared to children. There were no more than 12 children on the whole cruise (or if there were they were certainly not visible to us) and none were particularly noisy or disruptive - they were certainly not disrupting the lifts or entertainment at all. The public spaces and lounges were inviting and spacious - it was difficult to believe that there were 2,000 people on board at times, except at key times during breakfast in the buffet restaurant when seating was at a premium. Our inside cabin (on deck 7) was extremely spacious compared to other ships we have cruised on and despite being near the lift there was no noise during the night, something which would have concerned me as a light sleeper. The staff were all friendly and helpful, without exception. The food I would say was generally of an excellent standard, but I do agree with the previous reviewer that pastries and cakes in the buffet restaurant were generally bland and uninteresting and a few of the soups and main courses in the Trellis Restaurant were uninspiring. The experience in the SS United States was well worth the $30 dollar supplement per person and provided a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of the Trellis Restaurant which was noisy. I will have a moan about the dress code on board. It was clearly stated in the daily programme what the dress code was for each evening - formal (tuxedo), informal (jacket and tie for men) or casual and despite a sign outside the main doors to the Trellis restaurant saying no jeans were allowed, certain guests seemed to disregard this night after night and turned up in ripped, faded jeans to eat, yet were not turned away. If Celebrity is going to have a dress code, then please keep to it. It's not fair on those who were happy to keep to the code to see others so blatantly flouting it and getting away with it. The entertainment on board was varied with a good selection of musical tastes catered for throughout the ship - a string quartet, jazz group, pianist/vocalist and the Celebrity Orchestra were all playing most evenings, so you choose where to sit and who to listen to. The only show in the theatre which we went to was by an Australian singer Donald Cant who was out of this world - a really high class act. Pity he was on board for nine days and only performed twice. We went on four shore excursions on our 15 night cruise. OK they are quite expensive - but you don't have to go on them. The ones we went on were well executed with excellent guides and itineraries. On one day we could not get ashore for four hours due to fog and forest fires, so some of the excursions had to be cancelled, however alternative shorter excursions were offered to everyone or a full refund- a miraculous piece of logistical planning given that there were 2,000 people on the ship. Cruise Director Allan King was visible throughout the cruise and was happy to stop and chat. Particularly impressive was the fact that he was on the gangplank when we arrived back from our trips on the one day when our itinerary was disrupted by the weather. Internet service could be slow at times depending on where the ship was, but it cost me less than $20 to keep in touch with relatives during the 2 weeks - hardly a great expense. Overall there is little I could fault the Infinity on, except perhaps some slightly uninspiring food at times and the smokiness of the casino and Cafe Milano - perhaps we were unfortunate that there were a lot of smokers on our cruise. We would certainly consider Celebrity and the Infinity for a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was our first time on Celebrity. We have been on about 25 cruises, lately mostly on Oceania. FOOD - The food was very disappointing. Uneven at best; not very imaginative. Many nights the lettuce in the salad was brown at the edges. ... Read More
This was our first time on Celebrity. We have been on about 25 cruises, lately mostly on Oceania. FOOD - The food was very disappointing. Uneven at best; not very imaginative. Many nights the lettuce in the salad was brown at the edges. All of the salads were basically the same. They just threw in either raisins, nuts, tomatoes, or a bit of cheese. Ordering a double size or having them mix 2 salads together was an alternative. Many of the pastas had no taste. The fish was overcooked on many occasions. The sushi, in the self service area was very good. A few nights I brought it down to the dining room in case dinner turned our badly. I asked if they could get it for me instead of me carrying it down to the dining room covered in a napkin, but never got an answer. The orange juice at breakfast was like a watery orange drink. The pancakes were awful. The United States restaurant (the specialty restaurant that they charge an extra $30/pp for) was much better. But it was a limited menu and didn't change throughout the cruise. The service there was terrific. SERVICE - This being a 5* cruise line, we had expected better service. We sat at the pool all day and were approached once or twice to ask if we wanted anything to drink. It did not seem that there were many service people around. The service in the dining room was good. CONDITION OF THE SHIP - The ship could use some refurbishment. Mosaic tiles were laying around on the floor in the spa showers. Windows needed washing due to the salt spray. STATEROOM AMENITIES - The bath towels were skimpy. There was no conditioner available. When I asked for some they told me I could buy it in the shop. Again on a 5* ship I would have expected better. MISC. - At one port there was a 2 hour wait to get on the tenders. ENTERTAINMENT - The name entertainers were good. I liked the entertainers in the lounges. There was a good variety ranging from jazz to rock to classical. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This truly was a trip of a lifetime. If you can find the time, and you want a memory that will last a lifetime, we would recommend this cruise. This was our 5th Celebrity Cruise, 2nd on a "M" class vessel. I will start with my ... Read More
This truly was a trip of a lifetime. If you can find the time, and you want a memory that will last a lifetime, we would recommend this cruise. This was our 5th Celebrity Cruise, 2nd on a "M" class vessel. I will start with my comments on the itinerary, and close with the issues we encountered on the ship. Arriving in Buenos Aries after surviving a 16 hour journey we were met by Celebrity Cruises at the AP. We quickly learned many Celebrity Air guests were amongst the travelers on our Plane all gathered in Atlanta for the 10 hour flight to Buenos Aries. Why we were stuffed in the back of the plane is a question I will ask if I use this again. It's noisy, and very hard to even catch an hour's sleep that close to the kitchen and bathroom. It obviously was not luck of the draw, as we soon learned how many were on our flight. We saw little of Buenos Aries, just the rather exciting drive through the city, avoiding many obstacles, whether it be bicycles, or little cars that seemed to overlook mediums or sidewalks. Bus Drivers in that city really should have danger pay. We were on ship, and yes, eating by 1:00 p.m. We were pretty well worn out from traveling so unless you're going in a couple days ahead don't plan on doing much the first day. Our travels over the next 2 days we toured Uruguay basked in warm weather, and settled in nicely. We lucked out, and the usual horribly smoky areas of the ship seemed less polluted, as we found many young Chilean and Argentinean families aboard. We hadn't realized it was their last week of "summer" break. I'm not sure if that's why we were so fortunate, but we alas, many wish the Cruise Lines would get with the reality that most hate the smoke and dream for smoke free ships. We had no complaints with our cabin staff, nor wait staff in the Trellis Restaurant. But keep in mind those poor kids are performance paid. They make what we give, and little more. After comparison of the other 4 trips, I'm going to state clearly, the food was not consistent. The steak on the "left side" of the menu was; only unfortunately the consistency was tough. This wasn't acceptable, and Celebrity really should start considering Argentinean Beef, rather then the U.S. they are using. We ate off ship twice, and without any question, the Argentinean Beef is what it's known for, and melts in your mouth. I was saddened to see the visible cut backs on staff in the buffet area, no one, until probably mid cruise was there to assist with tray's and why Milk/Cream was such an issue throughout the cruise was puzzling. It became our morning quest, to find cream and coffee at the same drink station. The coffee was the usual rotten, but that's normal on all the cruises. I was surprised they no longer keep the formal restaurant open on shore days. This is another cut back on the ship. We booked several shore excursions with Celebrity this time. We had not done so on other trips but were a bit apprehensive to strike out on our own in this region. The penguins at Puerto Arenas, was an experience unlike any other in the world. You walk along a roped path, and you're not allowed to touch them, or feed them. The problem is the penguins don't know the rules, so if you're quiet and still they will come right up to you and check you out. Something we will never forget. The catamaran in Beagle Channel allowed us to get very close to the Sea Lions and see the birds up close and personal. Celebrity at each and every port will tell you not to wear any jewelry, hang on to your purse, and do not flaunt expensive camera's. You need to heed these warnings. We witnessed a thief's escapade in Montevideo, his capture and beating all in the public square. A purse was snatched in the church in Valparaiso and we heard others making similar comments all the way along. The people of the country are very impoverished and they really don't have anything to loose if they succeed in taking our valuables. Most of the ports had city tours available at much more reasonable rates, and as long as you remain in larger groups, they're anything wrong with using them. Save your money for the big ones, like the penguins, that you can't do any where else in the world, but don't wait till boarding the ship to get theses, because they're gone usually long before sailing. Do not book the Puerto Montt/ Fruitilar Tour for $69.00 it was a huge disappointment. Puerto Montt had the very best in handicraft, and by far the most reasonable prices. Hand made sweaters for $20 - $25.00 and the Alpaca Scarves for $5.00 in any color imaginable. Walk off the peer, and the street that you emerge on, turn left and in 5 minutes from the ship you're there. We were by far the most fortunate cruisers on this itinerary for a long time, enjoying soft seas most days. The Chilean Fiords are without a doubt an amazing wonder of the world that words will never describe justly. You just have to do this cruise and experience a chance of a lifetime. The issue's we had were with reduced service and bad decision making by the Captain; I'm not sure I'll travel on an "M" class ship again. I can't believe service dropped this blatantly company wide, so I'll believe for now, it was this class of ship that has cut corners. Entertainment was ok. The singers and dancers were brilliant. The British Singers was one that you had to wince upon hearing the first note. Activity Staff was as usual energetic, and we cannot rave enough about the "Party Band". Headliners (the main band) are by far the best we've encountered. Their's nothing they can't play, nor learn to play. They are by far the best quality we've encountered, and we lucked out because we had them last year on our Mexican Riviera Trip. We were so sad to miss the last night of dancing as my partner fell ill and he couldn't bring himself to raise his head from our bed. The Latin singer was ok, the first couple of times, but she sang the same over and over. The enrichment series were awesome. We learned something knew every single day. A very poor decision to remain in Puerto Montt amongst smoke/fog caused many to have breathing issues. A second bad decision to allow "some" shore excursions beginning at noon, sent us traveling along roads of burning fires. This was totally unacceptable, and I have made formal complaint with Celebrity for this decision. We should have never dropped anchor, and just skipped the Port for health reasons alone. Others need to write Celebrity on this issue. Don't forget to book your final tour from Valparaiso for 8 - 9 hours, or you'll find yourselves at the airport with likely a 12 hour wait. It was a wonderful tour, and saw some amazing sights ending at the Airport in Santiago. Truly a trip to remember for an entire life. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
My husband and I flew from San Diego to Buenos Aires via Dallas/Ft. Worth arriving the morning of the cruise. We sailed on Infinity February 15 from Buenos Aires. We did not have much of a chance to see Buenos Aires other than from the bus ... Read More
My husband and I flew from San Diego to Buenos Aires via Dallas/Ft. Worth arriving the morning of the cruise. We sailed on Infinity February 15 from Buenos Aires. We did not have much of a chance to see Buenos Aires other than from the bus ride to the pier (we were met at the AP by Celebrity staff). Many of our fellow passengers flew in 2-3 days prior to the cruise so they had time to adapt to the time change and see the city--highly recommend advance stay. The itinerary was excellent and we enjoyed each of the ports especially Ushuaia, Argentina and Punta Arenas, Chile. One of the highlights was sailing completely around Cape Horn (it's an island). When we arrived at the Cape, the water was very calm. Living on the island is a Chilean Army Sergeant, his wife and two children. As we completed the circuit of the island, the weather (rain and wind) moved in and the ocean got a little rough. A must see is the Penguins either at Puerto Madryn or Punta Arenas. At Punta Arenas, the Penguins are the burrowing kind and their habitat is located on private property. I have a mild mobility problem so I found it very tiring to trudge out the 1 1/2 miles to the beach where the Penguins spend the day. They will rent you a battery operated cart for $25 but both carts were in use when we arrived. We understood that the walk to the Penguins in Puerto Madryn was on rough gravel whereas the one we visited was a dirt path for the first 1/2 mile followed by a boardwalk the remaining distance. Still rough walking. We did not take advantage of the ship's tours (too expensive). We went on the Penguin tour with 11 other people from the ship for a total of $22 for four hours. The ship is very nice, always clean. The food was not up to Celebrity standards and we found most of the meats tough. We ate a lot of fish. The main seating had a lot of empty tables as there were a lot of South Americans, Germans, and other Europeans who liked to dine late so second seating was filled to capacity. We enjoyed our waiters and also Diego the wine steward from Buenos Aires (cute!). One has to be very tolerant when sailing to this part of the world. Residents in each of the ports were very friendly and helpful. However, there were certain groups (no country identification will be made) on the ship who were very inconsiderate of others and made a practice of butting into lines and offered no excuses for their behavior. It is their culture. As someone who is mobility challenged, I found it frustrating to be repeatedly cut off by someone who acted as if they never saw me. We ended our cruise in Valparaiso and were bused to the Santiago, Chile airport. Highly recommend taking one of the ship's tours so that you do not have to spend the whole day at the airport. Many folks enjoyed the local winery tour. Overall, we would highly recommend this cruise. It was truly a learning experience. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
South America on Celebrity X infinity was our first cruise, but not our last, we have already booked two more with Celebrity X. We booked a Concierge cabin which we feel was a good decision. The service we received from Celebrity X ... Read More
South America on Celebrity X infinity was our first cruise, but not our last, we have already booked two more with Celebrity X. We booked a Concierge cabin which we feel was a good decision. The service we received from Celebrity X throughout the cruise was excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation was carried out in a seamless manner. The same high level of organization was shown in the excursions. The cabin was very welcoming with fresh flowers and fresh fruit regularly replaced. A chilled bottle of Champagne greeted us when we entered the cabin, on the balcony with a glass of bubbly, what a great start after a 16 hour flight. The cabin was spacious and the bed was comfortable. The entire ship was comfortable, well decorated, and inviting with art and flower arrangements throughout. The food in the dining room was varied, the quality and presentation was excellent, and this coupled with the outstanding service from the dining room staff, we were very impressed. We found the entertainment to be very professional, from both the ship's entertainment team and the international artists. The on board lectures from James Reid on South American culture and our itinerary destinations added enormously to our adventure. The on board naturalist was equally outstanding, providing an indepth knowledge of wildlife, flora and fauna that we were to experience.His commentary from the bridge as we passed glaciers, Beagle Channel,Chilean Fiords added to our enjoyment and education. The shore excursions were very comfortable, well organized, and a good selection, although some were a little expensive. A little research on ports/towns could offer the opportunity of self guide if you wanted to save money. As this was our first cruise, we opted for the Celebrity X tours, as this provided an opportunity to absorb varied information from the local tour guides on South America both historic and current day. The pre and post cruise hotels were central, comfortable and served the one night purpose. The only negative - We booked for a table for two for dinner, when we arrived we were escorted to a table for ten, which we refused. The matter was resolved and we received a table for two for the entire cruise, but we were persistent. Overall this was a fantastic holiday both through choice of cruise company and destination, and good value. I think booking two more cruises with Celebrity X speaks for itself Enjoy your holiday Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
South America Cruise March 15, 2008 to March 30, 2008 Celebrity Infinity My friend and I left Los Angeles on March 14 at 2pm... Connected with flight to Buenos Aires that night out of Miami, Florida. Day 1 Buenos Aires, Argentina. ... Read More
South America Cruise March 15, 2008 to March 30, 2008 Celebrity Infinity My friend and I left Los Angeles on March 14 at 2pm... Connected with flight to Buenos Aires that night out of Miami, Florida. Day 1 Buenos Aires, Argentina. Arrived 9:30 am in Buenos Aires. Tired, after all night flight. Waited 3 hours in airport for Celebrity bus to take us to the ship. Bags arrived in cabin in afternoon and we did not go into town. Will have to make BA another trip. Explored the ship, had lovely dinner and went to bed. (Definitely recommend going in a couple of days early to explore this city) Coffee is not very good onboard, except at Cove Cafe where they have specialties and there I visited daily for an espresso, or something wonderful. My opinion, but most of the coffee was bitter. Not too bad in the dining room. Day 2 Montevideo, Argentina. Took a van to the "leather factory" that was a store. Lovely leather jackets, purses, etc, with high prices ( my opinion), and how often do I wear one anyway? Just outside this place is a few shops that we entered and I spotted the "Artesania Rinconada" figurines that I collect. They are made in Montevideo and I really wanted to buy one for a souvenir for myself. Of course, I did not buy it there, thinking I would see them all over town... WRONG... never saw another! It was Palm Sunday so many places were closed. Oh well... bought a "look alike" for about $4.00 and it will do until I return one day.. Teamed up with a group of 6 outside the shops there for a city tour in a nice van with an English speaking guide... $20.00 apiece. Went to see monuments, Plazas, Parliament Building, the Cathedral, where Mass was being said by the Bishop, and people were carrying branches (olive and other types) for ceremony inside. Vendors in park selling local items, especially the specially made leather "vessels/holders" for Mate, the local herbal drink. City has great feel to it for walking and very bustling, even on Sunday. Back to the ship after 3 hours. Story: One of the ladies at our table, small person, about 65 and 90 lbs, was walking near Cathedral with a friend, looking for a shop, when 2 teenage boys ripped her purse off her arm. She was not badly hurt, just a bruise on her arm where she had tried to hold on to the purse. They saw a policewoman near by and ran to her. Next thing they knew, 3 or 4 police cars came and picked up the ladies, along with another local woman who came forward and said she witnessed the act.... And off to the police station to take a report, they go. They were treated with compassion, given coffee, etc... and 20 minutes later, in walks the police with the 2 boys! And yes.... They had her money and her camera on them. Before all this was sorted out, another local lady came in with the credit cards that she had found in the street! The ladies were driven back to the ship with all but her pink purse! Day 3 Punta Del Este, Uruguay Lovely resort city with beautiful beaches. Reminds me a lot of Southern Ca coast line, including some red tile roofed houses hugging the hills, overlooking the beach. My, I thought it was Palos Verdes, Ca! Went with a local guide, and 6 people, once again in a nice van for a tour. There are special spots to see such things as the "hand or finger sculpture in the sand, a hotel, museum, shop that is built on the side of a cliff reaching the ocean, with no straight lines, the Maldonado area, museums and of course the views. It seemed we ran into the ships tours a lot! We paid $30.00 apiece and had a great time. We asked to be dropped in town so we could explore and found lovely places to see local wares and had lunch. Not the best but we didn't care. We walked back to the port to catch the tender about an hour before we sailed. Day 4 At Sea The ship experience: Joined in for Bingo and Irene went to a "beading class". Love the balcony for reading, explored the shops and the casino. Did well there and even entered a slot tournament. Did not win that though! The entertainment onboard was varied throughout the trip and we took in a few shows and really enjoyed the Gaucho Dancers from Argentina and the aerialists who flew around the stage using scarves from the rafters ( a Cirque type performance) Of course there was Ice carving, a naturalist and a historian so listen to each day and we gathered a lot of information from their lectures. We did not do the night life in the lounges. People seemed to really be enjoying themselves though. The pools and the hydrotherapy spa is lovely, even if cold outside you are "inside" being sheltered with glass. ceilings... The food onboard was terrific and the ice cream was good. Ate Breakfast and lunch at the buffet and always had dinner in the dining room. We felt the choices at the buffet were wonderful, and loved the pizza and the salads. Never tried the grill outside but saw people with hamburgers and fries.... The cookies were out there also! Breakfast was a real treat with all the choices. Two omelet stations, a waffle and pancake bar, not counting the large buffet station with everything on it. The service was great most everywhere. Not thrilled with our cabin steward, but his assistant was great. Our waiter was the best... and overall the crew was warm and friendly. The dining room choices were excellent and plentiful The difference we found regarding 'tipping' was that in order for the tips to be automatically charged to your account, you were given a form to verify that you wanted this done. Otherwise, it was not going to happen. You could always use envelopes for waiters, etc.... no matter your preference on this. I remember on Princes, just the opposite... that it was automatically applied to your account unless you specified otherwise. I like this method better. We did not dine in the US United States (specialty restaurant) but those who did said it was superb.... Day 5 Puerto Madryn, Argentina We went into town on our own with a bus provided at the port. Not much here but found the center of the area for local items and I bought a lovely silver ring. Also saw a "Carrefour" department store.... Have not seen one since I was in Dubai. Nice memory jogger for me. Also, the BEST coffee yet! Had an espresso sitting outside a little restaurant and they served it with a piece of chocolate and water. I could have stayed there awhile! Many people took the penguin tour here and loved it. It is at least 2 hours by bus to get there and I believe there is lunch and a stop or two at a Welch town also. Day 6 and 7 At Sea More bingo and whatever you want to do. I never play Bingo except when I cruise. Irene won! I surely didn't. smile Day 8 Ushuaia, Argentina Arrived at the end of the world! Booked through an agency on the pier to take a train ride that takes you where the convicts went, many years ago and to see what it was like with areas of old native county side places. Saw great numbers of horses on the land and lovely mountains and streams. Don't remember the cost, but I think it was about $25.00 each. There are more penguins to be seen from here and originally, we were going to take a catamaran out to see them, but discovered that you never touch land, and was not interested in just sailing by the reserves. Our weather was cool and crisp most everywhere. We had no rain. Day 9 Cape Horn and the glaciers We approached the Horn, could see the landmarks and came to a dead stop. The captain came on and said the winds were 60 knots ahead of us and we would not be going around the Horn. OK by me. The winds were strong enough where we were and so we just took a few pictures and we were turned back through a passage and on to the glaciers. I felt like I was in Alaska. Wonderful sights. Cold and overcast this day, but really not bad and lovely to see it all. Day 10 Punta Arenas, Chile Booked through the ship to go by ferry to Magdalena Island, reserve for approximately 70,000 Magellanic Penguins. Awesome adventure! The ferry ride was nice because you can go outside and see dolphins, whales, etc on the 25 mile journey. Hot cocoa and coffee was available and they gave us a box lunch. (nothing to write home about). We arrived in clear weather after seeing wonderful rainbows over the island.... To be greeted by hundreds and thousands of penguins. They are on this island for 6 months of the year to breed and raise their young before migrating the waters for 6 months. They have "burrows" for the wee ones and themselves and take turns going to and fro to the water. Unbelievable sight and Oh so close to the designated path we were on. A really wonderful tour! Had the driver drop us at Munoz Garnero Square where we sampled local trade and lovely statue of Ferdinand Magellan. There is an Indian statue as part of this display and legend has it that if you touch the toe of this statue, you will return to the city. The best buys were of Alpaca or Llama sweaters and we indulged. There was Lapiz Lazuli jewelry... but knowing if it is real or not is difficult. Had a few moments of rain on the way back to the port to catch the tender but really not a problem. The city seemed to have large department stores and places to eat. We were looking more for local crafts, etc and were happy with the day. Chile has a great number of stray dogs. Friendly, but an over abundance of them, it seemed. Ran into a group at the Plaza that works to have them neutered and adopted. Big effort and needs more support. Began to notice that English was becoming less understood. Thank goodness, Irene speaks some Spanish, so we made out fine for the rest of the cruise. Day 11 Cruised the Magellan Passage. Lovely day of cruising and sitting outside looking for dolphins and viewing the mountains. Day 12 Cruising the Chilean Fjords Another day of cruising and enjoying the scenery The Andes are amazing and snow capped peaks are plenty. Day 13 Puerto Montt, Chile Went into town on own just to look around. We were tendered and the ride to the port was about 10 minutes. Small town with little to really see other than local Artisan Market. There was a 7-hour tour from the ship to go see falls, lakes, etc, that we had cancelled, just not feeling up to such a long trip. There is a lovely crucifix on a hill at the port, not an unusual sight in a few Chilean cities. The views, the sunrise and the local places to visit are wonderful in most of these cities. One tour was late getting back and the tenders were scurrying back and forth trying to get all the passengers onboard for the 5pm sailing. We were actually turning around when hey were raising the tenders onto the ship! Day 14 At Sea Day 15 Coquimbo (La Serena), Chile Awakened early morning by local dancers on the dock, just below our window. Such a serenade! Joined a small group of 8 in another van to tour the countryside and see a bit of La Serena. This was I think $40.00 per person. Coquimbo, where we dock, is a small port city, with not many things to see.... Everyone headed to La Serena. We went into the valley about an hour form the city, and once again, I thought I was in Ca. It was much like the Fresno agricultural area with mountains all around. Such lovely grape fields, walnut trees, oranges, avocado's, you name it. We stopped at a dam and learned about the area and how important the export of their products is... then went to a small winery to sample the wares and eat grapes from the vine. The mistress of the house invited us in to her kitchen for something cool to drink and it was lovely to visit such a quaint and beautiful place. It was something like a Spanish villa with outdoor furniture, flowers and a fireplace. We stopped in town at the large local marketplace and strolled around for a bit, before returning to the ship about an hour before sailing. As we left the dock, a local band was playing on the pier... Everyone always knows "When the Saints Go Marching In". Day 16 Valparaiso, Chile We docked in Valparaiso very early and because Irene and I were not catching a plane that day, our time to disembark was 9:30am. This went smoothly.... Though is different than I have experienced. The place where the ship docks is about a mile from the immigration building where you need to go and they line up busses for people to board and take you to the proper place. We were lined up in 2 lines with carry on bags at out feet so the 'sniffer dogs' could do their duty and seek out drugs, sweets, fruit, etc.... We were warned not to bring anything into Chile. We had some packaged breakfast bars and trail mix and that was not bothered with.... After clearing through customs, we got our bags and out we went. We were registered to stay at a hotel in Vina Del Mar and took a taxi to the hotel. This is about 4 miles... ________________________________________________________________________ Off the cruise: Day 16, 17, 18 Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso Our hotel in Vina Del Mar was the Hotel Monterilla. It is a small boutique type place with a lovely breakfast in the mornings. It has everything you need and free access to the Internet. The location is superb for the area and walking distance to the beach, to the main streets for wonderful restaurants and museums. We took a horse buggy/carriage ride the 1st day and got a feel for the place, the location, the beaches, etc. Irene had actually dropped her wallet once when we were getting back into the buggy (open topped type) and a local man came running up to the carriage yelling Senora, senora! And handed her the wallet! The food in the restaurants was way too much per person! Portion not price. There are many things to see and we especially enjoyed the museum with the only real Moai statue outside of Easter Island. There was a wonderful guide in the museum that explained so much to us and we really enjoyed our time there. We took a local bus to Con Con, a beach city north of Vina and had lunch on the beach and had no idea what we were eating but took a picture and gave up the effort, just knowing it was some muscle thing from the sea! We took the metro to Valparaiso and walked to a funicular (ascensor) just to say we did it. Scary stuff and built who knows when. Valparaiso is a busy, busy port place with terrible fumes from all the ships, trucks, etc. We soon returned to Vina Del Mar. Our last day was to be a tour, pre arranged, that included a tour of Santiago and onwards to the airport. Well.... Irene got sick the day before and was still not well on this last day and so we ended up in a private clinic where they took really good care of her and got her well enough (with IV solution and meds for vomiting) to get to the airport and on our way. All went well but we will have to make another stop someday in Santiago. A glorious trip and a wonderful experience was had for both of us. We will plan Brazil, Buenos Aires and Iguaçu Falls someday. We highly recommend the Celebrity Infinity, and will look to cruising with this line again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
SOUTH AMERICAN CRUISE Celebrity Infinity, 4-18 January 2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile Background We are married middle-agers, frequent travelers. We've traveled throughout the US, made some stops in ... Read More
SOUTH AMERICAN CRUISE Celebrity Infinity, 4-18 January 2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile Background We are married middle-agers, frequent travelers. We've traveled throughout the US, made some stops in Canada, Mexico and Europe. We cruise at least annually, sometimes twice a year. South America was a new continent for us. We enjoy Celebrity the best, but have cruised on Norwegian, Costa, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and a now-defunct Hawaiian line. We tend to be more budget-minded than luxury travelers, but have some standards of comfort like those offered at Marriott or Hilton; Hertz or Avis; and legacy airlines. Arrival After 12 hours in the air and a few extra hours waiting in airports, we arrived at EZE airport in Buenos Aires about 1:00 pm on January 2, 2009. Retrieving luggage and passport control were without incident. Our first order of business was obtaining local currency at an ATM at the airport. Leave the luggage claim area, walk through the tour / remise desk area, past the large taxi kiosk. At the right is the ticketing area, straight ahead is a bank of doors to the outside and to the left is a shop, a post office and an ATM. If you're planning to send postcards home, you may want to buy stamps at the post office here, as they are not that easy to find in the city. We were successful in getting cash at the ATM machine and proceeded to the taxi kiosk. A taxi to our hotel, the Marriott Plaza in the Microcenter area of town was 98 ARG, or about $33 USD. You pre-pay at the kiosk, the staff radios a driver and a porter escorts you through the busy ticketing area to the ground transportation area where you meet your driver. The porter is not shy about asking for a tip; ours even suggested an amount. We didn't comply, he received 2 ARG. The taxi drive was quite long; perhaps 30 minutes; making us feel much better about what we originally thought was a steep price. The taxi was in good shape with working seat belts, air conditioning, etc. Hotel Arrival at the Marriott brought no problems. Because we had encountered flight delays, we arrived about 3 hours later than planned and it was now check-in time. The room was standard, no view. Air conditioning is of the "swamp cooler" variety (humid cool-ish air), which ran constantly. The bathroom is marble with all of the necessities, including a rainshower-type showerhead and a deep soaking tub. The room included a safe, ironing board & iron, desk, club chair and standard TV with a variety of channels in Spanish and English. Because we used Marriott points, it cost us nothing, but if we'd paid the advertised rate of $300 per night, it would have caused great disappointment. In the Argentine economy, luxury should come for that cost. Our room included breakfast. The breakfast room is located in the lower level of the hotel and is nicely decorated with cloths on the tables and attentive service. Cereals, pastries, fruits, cheeses and cold meats are available beside hot foods like potatoes, sausage, bacon, oatmeal and made-to-order omelets. Coffee, tea and juices are free-flowing. Very nice, and all-you-care-to-eat. The pastries were fresh-baked and wonderful. 2 January: Exploring Buenos Aires Our hotel was adjacent to Florida Street, so after a couple hours' nap, we headed through this area while waiting for dinner time. It is very touristy, with a variety of shops selling basically the same things: leather goods, inexpensive clothing, souvenirs and trinkets. We did not experience any difficulties here, but it seems like a place where you'd want to make sure your valuables are secure. In the middle of this street is an upscale "shopping mall," Gallerias Pacifico. This is a place to spend some serious cash, and it reminded me a lot of the shopping gallerias inside Las Vegas hotels. In the middle of the mall we found an area where Santa must have posed for photos in the weeks before Christmas. But now, the Three Wisemen were posing! They were very well costumed and so we paused for a photo ($12 ARG, 10 minute processing time). What a fun, spontaneous thing to take part in. Once the stores start closing on Florida Street (about 6:00 pm), street vendors begin setting up shop on the sidewalk and street performers get to work. For dinner, we went to Las Nazarenas, a steakhouse recommended by many travel review websites. Originally when we stopped in at 6:30 pm we thought we'd only be able to make a reservation for later that night, but they were already serving dinner and had open seats at that point, so we sat down. Two filet dinners with baked potato and bottled water was about $90 ARG. It included bread and empanadas appetizers. Service was excellent. 3 January: Recoleta Cemetery & the Buenos Aires Zoo Our first priority on our first full day in Buenos Aires was the fabled Recoleta Cemetery. We walked the approximate 10 blocks from our hotel, a sunny, pleasant trek. We arrived at the entrance, its portal proclaiming Requiescant in Pace. A volunteer sold maps ($6 ARG) at the gate, which we purchased as a souvenir. We didn't follow the map, but instead started walking and appreciating what is described as the "major expression of funeral architecture world-wide." This site is definitely worth a couple of hours' exploration time, especially to see the exhibition of wealth that heirs spent on the dearly departed. After Recoleta, we detoured slightly to the Hard Rock Cafe in the neighboring Buenos Aires Design Center; primarily an interior design marketplace. We enjoyed an ice cream cone and decided, given the great weather, to visit the zoo. A taxi ride cost about $15 ARG. Admission was $9 ARG per person. The zoo was built in 1888. It was much like the zoos I remember as a kid: minimal barriers between animals and spectators; no real concern for habitat. A motivated animal could likely escape; except for the wild cats, which were very well secured. Most of the animals seemed rather lethargic. Patrons were encouraged to buy food pellets and feed them to the animals by rolling the pellets down little ramps into the mouths of waiting monkeys, camels, vicunas, and others. The strangest thing about this zoo was the number of little animals wandering around un-caged, particularly Patagonian rabbits and a small rat-like creature, about 10 pounds, with long tail, bristly whiskers and guinea pig-like body. We never did get an ID on these guys, but they were all around. We spend the rest of the day just wandering and ended up for dinner at a sidewalk cafe offering, of all things, pasta and pizza, called Puerto del Carmen. Dinner here was $71 ARG. 4 January: La Boca, San Telmo & Ship Embarkation We enjoyed another great breakfast at the Marriott before checking out and submitting our luggage for hold while we waited to board our ship. Again, the weather was great. (A warning, though, the sun is strong and you need sunscreen!) A taxi took us to the La Boca area of Buenos Aires, known for its mish-mash of brightly painted sheds, flats and storefronts—er—architecture. Street vendors were set up ready for the tourists. The colorful background made for good photos and the merchants' offerings ranged from the typical shawls and mate cups to an unusual item we bought: tea towels highlighting cuts of Argentine beef! After an hour here, we caught another taxi to the San Telmo district where a flea market is held every Sunday. The San Telmo area is surrounded by antiques stores and restaurants. The streets are filled with street performers, including tango dancers and 10-piece tango bands (orquestra tipica) complete with upright pianos. The "formal" marketplace was in the park-like Plaza Dorrego, where all vendors had licenses and were obviously part of a weekly conglomerate. All manner of goods were for sale, with many vendors specializing: vintage buttons, colored seltzer bottles, miniature soldiers, records. Rick bought a couple of vintage license plates, while I spent most of my time photographing the multiples (goblets, brooches, apothecary jars) at each vendor's booth. We enjoyed music from one young orquestra, which had drawn a large crowd, and we bought a CD, appreciating the rich sound of 10 or 12 musicians playing the Latin tango standards. We left San Telmo and on our way out bought empanadas from a young man selling them from a tray on the street. Probably not the most health-conscious way to eat in a foreign land, but definitely the most authentic and the most tasty! We caught a taxi to our hotel where we picked up our luggage before going to the pier. The taxi stand personnel at the hotel insisted on making a phone call to learn which pier we needed. Embarking the Ship Two ships were embarking here and there was some momentary confusion about where luggage was to be checked in. Turns out both ships were sharing one doorway, with a minor barrier separating the two. It was about 2:00 and we checked in immediately, encountering no lines. Our passports were surrendered due to regulations of the countries we were visiting along the way. A short bus ride after the security checkpoint brought us to the ship. Champagne and mimosas were being served, but there were no stateroom escorts. We found our cabin just fine, number 3089, an inside room on Deck 3, directly behind Passenger Services. This proved to be a quiet and convenient location for the duration. Because we knew that the sailing was undersold, we inquired about a paid upgrade. The staff handling this had a long list of rooms available, that we can only assume had already been snatched up. We were told a Family Oceanview was the only upgrade available and would be an additional amount of $45 per day. Finding it humorous that they were quoting a "per day" rate, we considered asking for "days 3, 4, 7, and 11," but knew better of it and let things go. After all, at $45 per day, the cost would have been an additional $600+, which would be a major chunk of a future cruise fare. We found the food on board, bought a soda package, unpacked our bags (which had arrived almost immediately) and oriented ourselves to the ship. We always check out the library on the first day, for the best selection of books. This first night was open seating dining and we enjoyed the company of a delightful young couple from New Jersey who we saw most days on ship or in port. Tonight's dress, as per the usual first night was smart casual. The entertainment was a single 10:45 show featuring the Celebrity singers and dancers, a singing group, some aerialists and a tango dancing group. 5 January: Montevideo, Uruguay We chose to stroll Montevideo on our own, so once the ship docked, we were quickly walking towards the city center. Our first order of business was the post office, where I had hoped to buy Uruguayan stamps as unique souvenirs for folks back home, as well as for mailing postcards from this most unusual port. After wandering through some quiet neighborhoods, we found the main post office, which was a beautiful art deco building in museum condition. The actual service portion had been relocated to a storefront around the corner. They had a specific philatelic desk with a friendly, service-oriented clerk and we thoroughly enjoyed the bit of time we took trying to communicate and settling on stamps. We paid with a combination of US and Argentine currency. We now headed towards the commercial district of town; a pedestrian street filled with sophisticated storefronts and street vendors both. There were many uniformed Tourist Police peppered around town, in the center of town as well as in the neighborhoods we'd walked through that morning. We hadn't heard any information about the need for these officers, but took comfort in knowing we were under their careful watch. The weather was warm and sunny and it was a pleasant walk. We browsed the handicrafts, visited the gift shop of the Museo Torres Garcia for unique Uruguayan postcards and sat on a park bench to soak up the sun. After some time wandering, we returned to the pier via the back roads, where we encountered a good number of vacant buildings and lots. This back-roads walk might have given us some interesting local flavor, but after being approached by a Tourist Policeman and told to put away our cameras, we increased the speed of our step and were quickly back portside. We hadn't felt unsafe at all until we were warned! Tonight's dress code was smart casual, with a violinist as entertainment, backed by the Celebrity Orchestra and presented at 7:00 and 9:00. 6 January: At Sea The great thing about this itinerary, versus a European one of similar length, is the generous number of sea days. It is nearly an every-other-day schedule. Our first sea day had us traveling south along the fairly choppy Atlantic. This day offered enrichment talks from two separate experts on South America; the commencement of cruise-long team trivia and battle of the sexes; Spanish classes; dance classes; and various challenges from the activities staff like table tennis, on-off trivia games, golf; and group get togethers. Tonight's dress code was formal; the Captain's Welcome Aboard Toast was held just before the "Spectacle of Broadway" singer/dancer show presented after each dinner seating. 7 January: Puerto Madryn, Argentina Prior to the trip we'd made arrangements for activities here. Rick pre-booked two SCUBA dives with the local outfitter, Lobo Larsen. This was to include diving with sea lions and a shipwreck dive, with pick up and drop off at the ship. Unfortunately, Lobo Larsen mistakenly reported to the wrong ship and Rick was left—no pun intended—high and dry, despite the fact that all communication between us was clear on the name of the ship. He took matters into his own hands and hopped a taxi to the outfitter's office to salvage the outing. If using this company, be sure to confirm, re-confirm and re-re-re-confirm. Once this was ironed out, the diving adventure ended up to be quite unique. http://lobolarsen.com/ I joined a group from the Cruise Critic Roll Call for a trip to the Punta Tombo penguin colony. The tour, run by the firm Sentir Patagonia Travel, was very well done and a great value. A driver and English-speaking guide picked up seven of us in a relatively new 12-person van, which was appropriate-equipped with air conditioning, seat belts, etc. After a restroom and snack stop at a nearby gas station, the tour guide relayed local history and folklore, answered questions and pointed out sights. The drive, was not terribly exciting, with very little in the way of landscape points of interest. The Argentine Steppe geography is flat with minimal scrub, like the inland desert of California. Rarely a tree, structure or animal came into view. After about 90 minutes, we were at the penguin reserve. Our guide was well-versed in information on penguin and other local fauna and he kept his eye on us as we trekked along the gravel trail marveling at the 1.5 million flightless birds. We were allowed a little over an hour to visit the entire park, to see penguins in their nests, waddling around, swimming and sunning at the beaches. The penguins were definitely within touching distance (though we didn't dare) and the photo opportunities were literally legion! The great thing about a privately-booked tour is that you can frequently beat the crowds from a ship-sponsored excursion and this we did here. As we were returning to the visitors' center, passengers were just emptying out of the cruise ship buses. The visitors' center has souvenirs for sale, food and drink, and relief facilities. They even have postage stamps and a mailbox if you want to write and mail postcards from here in one fell swoop. On the way back to the ship we stopped in the charming Welsh village of Gaiman. It was tiny, with some picturesque cottages, churches and parks, and a nice spot to stretch our legs. A quick detour into the town of Puerto Madryn at the end of the day let us each pay our fee ($90 US) separately at the tour operator's office, and then we were dropped back at the ship about an hour before sailaway. I would definitely recommend Sentir Patagonia for an excursion of this type. http://www.sentir-patagonia.com.ar/ Tonight's dress code was smart casual and the entertainment was a variety show comprised of tango dancers and two singing acts, presented after each dinner seating. 8 January: At Sea Another sea day, more trivia, bingo, enrichment talks, board games, casino activities and relaxing. The weather while sailing this area of the world is too cool for poolside fun. The thalassotherapy pool and Jacuzzis were always busy on sea days and the usual restriction against children under 16 is lifted, assumingly due to outside temps. Today the ship conducted the "Celebrity Buffet Brunch," a relatively new concept, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in the main dining room. This is an open seating meal, with buffet presentations set up in the center of the room's lower level. Honestly, the food offered was the same as we'd seen at breakfast and lunch, it's just that it was all together, all at one time, and there was lots of it. We enjoyed lunch here. Was it unique? Not really, but it was a nice change of pace. Tonight's dress code was smart casual and the entertainment was a vocalist backed by the Celebrity Orchestra, presented at 7:00 and 9:00 pm. 9 January: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands This was the one port where ship's excursions were necessary. In short, almost anything worth seeing here involves a long, slow drive on unpaved trails or on no road at all! Many of our shipmates had signed up for the Volunteer Point tour and the choice between that and the Rockhopper Penguin tour was a difficult one for us. We decided on the Rockhoppers and figured we'll have to make the trip again in order to visit Volunteer Point. The weather throughout the trip so far had been fair, sunny and unseasonably warm. This port was no exception. The locals declared the weather quite unusual and most were in T-shirts soaking up the sun. Our guide picked us up at the pier and drove us on about one mile of paved road, then another several miles on gravel roads to a farm, where we loaded four passengers each in three Land Rovers. The drivers of these vehicles headed straightaway through the hilly pasture. There was no indication of water or shoreline in sight. After no less than 45 minutes of extremely bumpy, winding, boggy, muddy, holey driving, we were at the rookery. A couple hundred Rockhopper penguins were on hand to greet us at their gathering spot on the edge of a seaside cliff. These oh-so-adorable birds with little yellow wisps coming from their ears truly hop around from rock to rock, assumingly because they drew the short straw when it comes to legs. Most of the bird population present during our visit was comprised of chicks. The mature birds were out fishing to feed the babies. This seemed to be the case in every place we saw penguins. This colony is actually on private land (a farm), the owner of which is the operator of the tours. It's very low-key from a facilities standpoint. Lying on the ground at the rookery is a trail of rope to delineate where humans must stop from encroaching on the penguins. When I asked about the effectiveness of the rope, I was told that it was primarily there to warn people about walking too close to the cliff's edge. Adjacent to the cliff is a small shed where a nice woman brews tea and serves cookies, all as part of your tour fee. Next door to that is a port-a-potty for anyone who suffers bladder weakness after that bumpy ride out. After a 45-minute visit, we returned to the farm by Land Rover and then back to town via van. We had about an hour's time to explore the village of Stanley and we made use of that by visiting the post office with its excellent philatelic shop. You can get stamps for the Falklands and South Georgia Islands from a friendly, knowledgeable postal clerk. After that we ducked into various souvenir shops as we continued back to the pier. If you want ANY kind of penguin souvenir, you will find it here. The exchange rate, however, is the least friendly of any port you'll visit on the trip. If not taking an organized tour, the village is a picturesque one made for walking. There is an excellent visitors' center, right off the tender gangway, which provides a good variety of information, maps and pamphlets about what to see and do. The locals are very friendly and obviously know that tourism is their bread and butter. The whole place is almost Disneyland perfect. Tonight's dress was smart casual. There was no live entertainment, but instead a movie (The Kite Runner) played in the Celebrity Theater at 8:30 and 10:45. Cocktails were available, but no popcorn! 10 January: At Sea Another relaxing sea day to nap, read, play games, visit with shipmates. Tonight's dress code was formal, with the Celebrity Singers and Dancers presenting "Let's Rock" in the Celebrity Theater at 9:00 and 11:00. 11 January: At Sea, cruising around Cape Horn. At about 4:00 this day we reached the area of Cape Horn. The captain slowed the ship and we dallied around the horn for about an hour, with both sides of the ship being given the opportunity to view it. The horn has three points of interest to see: a lighthouse, a cottage and the albatross memorial sculpture. Because the ship cannot get close to the land, either binoculars or a camera's strong zoom lens is recommended. The weather is very windy and cool here, so all are warned to bring the appropriate equipment and clothing for the best viewing conditions. The rest of the day was a typical sea day. Enrichment talks continued today and throughout the cruise. Dress code tonight: smart casual. Entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was "Variety Showtime," offered at 7:00 and 9:00, with a violinist and a vocalist, both of whom had already performed solo shows on previous nights. 12 January: Ushuaia, Argentina Ushuaia bills itself as the "End of the World" because it is the southern-most populated city in the world, situated on the island of Tierra del Fuego, adjacent to the Beagle Channel. It is north of Cape Horn, however. We had made no previous plans for this port, but decided to try to find a place for horseback riding, an excursion that was not offered through the ship in any port on this sailing. Upon disembarking, there is a visitors' center immediately visible. Look for the giant lowercase "i" on the otherwise unlabeled building. We inquired here and were given a 3-page legal sized list of tour operators. The tourism representative marked each operator that provides horseback riding. We set off to the main street, San Martin and visited the first operator we ran into, Rumbo Sur. A quick phone call by their staff secured us a two-hour ride with local ranch, Centro Hipico, just 20 minutes away. They would pick us up and drop us back in town. We had about 90 minutes to wait for our pick up, so we visited the Museo del Fin del Mundo. This museum is quite small, but has some interesting artifacts including an elaborate wooden masthead, some taxidermied local fauna, documents, tools and information on indigenous people. It took all of 20 minutes to absorb all of the exhibits. Shortly, we were picked up by a taxi and taken to Centro Hipico. (Just as we arrived, the Celebrity tour buses were leaving. That excursion involved, not horseback riding, but a folkloric show, which the ranch also provides.) We were fitted with horses, introduced to our guide Laura, and joined a group of local high school students and their own guide. This 2-hour ride was the best we have ever taken! It took us up the mountainside, through rivers, along the beach of the Beagle Channel. We were separated from the students after 30 minutes and had the rest of the time to ourselves with Laura leading the way. The scenery was breathtaking and the terrain was akin to a great thrill ride, including narrow winding paths along a steep drop off. We were simply overwhelmed by the quality of the experience and cannot recommend this outfitter highly enough. The cost was about $40 US per person. http://www.rumboalsur.com/home.htm or http://centrohipicoushuaia.com.ar/ After our ride, the ranch owner drove us into town. We found a little chocolate shop that served sandwiches and coffee and settled in for a cup of gourmet hot cocoa. Evidently Ushuaia is known not just for it's geography, but also for it's chocolate! It was heavenly. The rest of the day was spent browsing the shops, which were a combination of souvenir emporia, leather dealers and adventure outfitters. This is the stop most Antarctic travelers make just before heading into the Great White South. The weather here had been perfect, starting out with a nip that required two layers, ending up with enough sun and warmth to get by with a T-shirt. The sun shone brightly and the incredible blue sky was dotted with cottony clouds translating into beautiful photographs. All in all, this was our favorite port of the trip and we heard many echo our opinion, regardless of how they spent their day. All were impressed with the local people and the quality of their experiences. Tonight's dress was smart casual. Another "Variety Showtime" made up the entertainment, with two musical acts who normally played in the bars, plus the tango dancers. This show was offered at 9:00 and 11:00. 13 January: Punta Arenas, Chile Our landfall in Chile also came with no particular plans. We thought we could visit the city, then hire a taxi to see the penguins at Otway Sound. After going through customs and agricultural inspections (very important in Chile), we started our day seeking out the post office for Chilean souvenir stamps and located it quickly. We stood in a slow-moving line for some time when an English-speaking couple joined the line behind me. They complained loudly to of the wait, to which I replied "I guess the wait at the post office is the same in every country." They assured me it was not this way in their native Canada. Soon, it was my turn and when I asked about "salles por collection," we were directed to a private office behind three sets of doors. Surprisingly, the Canadian couple followed us. The non-English-speaking postal clerk understood what I was after and proceeded to unload a number of binders from the safe, which contained a huge variety of stamps. While we spent a little time perusing the offerings, the Canadian gentleman stepped in and started pulling his choices from the books! After one polite request followed by a firm discussion, he agreed to wait his turn. We communicated our choices to the clerk through fits and starts, but left happy with several sheets of beautiful Chilean stamps to remember Chile by. Our next stop was the city square, Plaza Munoz Gamera, to which we were attracted by the green trees and the street merchants. Woven wares and antiques were the mainstay of this marketplace. It was colorful and prices were more than reasonable. We watched many of our shipmates contribute to the local economy. Surrounding the square were a small cathedral, the Museo Braun-Menendez and Palacio Sara Braun, which were all great for photo-taking. We didn't visit the insides of any, finding the architectural details outside more interesting. Having seen what we set out to see of the city, we hailed a taxi for a roundtrip to Otway Sound to see more Magellenic penguins. The driver was not English-speaking, but between our minimal Spanish and his minimal English, we communicated just fine. In the beginning, we were a bit concerned that he would not understand we wanted him to wait for us at the penguin colony. But the ride there convinced us otherwise. It was a 90 minute one-way trip, half of which was over slow-going gravel roads. He was happy to wait for us, as the ride back without passengers would not be profitable for him. The roundtrip cost was $30. The penguin reserve Otway Sound was very sophisticated, with boardwalks, watchtowers and observation stations build into the landscape. Unlike the colony we'd seen near Puerto Madryn, this one involved acres of tall grass. We saw probably 50 penguins during our visit, and assumed the rest were either fishing or hiding in the grass. It was a desolate seaside place, but in a peaceful, harmony-with-nature kind of way. We spent about an hour walking the 2-mile circular boardwalk and were ready to return to civilization. Once we arrived back in Punta Arenas, our taxi driver stopped at an overlook where we could see our ship in the harbor and the rooftops of the town. We thanked him for the good service and went our separate ways, ending at a port-side shop that provided internet service, a souvenir shop and a mailbox. For penguin fans, it would be our recommendation to see them at Punta Tombo in Puerto Madryn and at one of the colonies in the Falklands, and skip Otway Sound. If you are unable to see them in those ports, as can happen when weather interferes, then plan to take a taxi to Otway Sound from this port. There is no point in taking a ship's tour here, unless you are shy about making your own arrangements. Evening dress code this day was smart casual. Entertainment featured a female vocalist accompanied by the Celebrity Orchestra at 9:00 and 11:00. 14 January and 15 January: At Sea, Strait of Magellan and Chilean Fjords Another lazy sea day today, this time sailing through the Strait of Magellan. Remembering your history lessons (or reading the Celebrity Today newsletter), we're reminded how this seemingly inconsequential passage reduced significantly the time and risk involved with traveling around South America and the world. It's a little heady to sit back with a hot drink and enjoy the ride, knowing how thousands suffered or perished before discovering the strait. There was a bit of confusion about the Chilean Fjords and when we actually sailed through them. Conflicting information was given on the itinerary, in the newsletter and by the customer service staff. The scenery both this day and the next was beautiful, sometimes involving glaciers, so if one is truly interested in knowing exactly WHAT is fjord sailing, they are advised to get the information ahead of time from someone on board who actually knows. We were all allowed to pick up our passports on the 15th to keep for the remainder of the trip. They were returned to us stamped for Argentina, the Falklands and Chile. The dress code for the evening of January 14th was smart casual and the Celebrity Theater entertainment was "World's Greatest Xylophonist," Ian Finkel. (This is the third Xylophonist we've seen playing the cruise ship circuit.) January 15th brought our third formal night, with "Celebrate the World" as the entertainment, a show by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, plus the aerialists. 16 January: Puerto Montt, Chile Here, is where the weather finally caught up with us. We had enjoyed sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures for 15 days, so it only seemed fair that we endure a little climatic adversity. The day started out with heavy cloud cover and fine mist. We had pre-arranged a private tour with the operator Enatur Chile for a tour of the area surrounding Puerto Montt, including Puerto Varas, Petrohue Falls, Lake Llanquihue, and Lake Todos de los Santos. We met our guide, Pedro, outside the gates of the pier and were taken to a brand new van with an able driver. Our first stop was Puerto Varas to see the German-influenced village and architecture. We stopped at the shore of Lake Llanquihue, which seemed as big as Lake Superior, and this perception was reinforced as we drove through the countryside to Petrohue Falls-the shoreline when on and on and on. Our tour was relatively quick, hopping from place to place, taking some photos when we could. The main geographical site here was out of sight for uw: the Osorno Volcano. Because of the clouds, fog and mist obstructing the view, it was as if it did not even exist. We made a stop at the Petrohue Hotel for a cup of hot chocolate and some background and history from our guide, enabling us to skip lunch altogether for more touring time. Our driver dropped us at the Angelmo marketplace, where Pedro accompanied us through the artisan stalls; the restaurants and the fish market, helping us negotiate with the merchants and watching out for unsavory behavior, while filling us in on local folklore and customs. We were very glad to have him with us here to help us understand prices, suggest purchases and communicate with the merchants. The cost of the tour for two people was a little steep at $260 total, but it less than anything Celebrity offered in any similar vein. And we called the shots all day long and had two natives at our disposal for whatever we encountered. http://www.enaturchile.com/enatur_english/index.html This was a very low-key day with little mental or physical challenge, and a good way to start thinking about going back into real life. Dress code tonight was smart casual. The entertainment was replaced with the "Starring You" Awards. This featured the three finalists of the karaoke contest, dance contest and joke-telling contest. Each finalist performed for the audience while pre-determined judges chose the winners. (It also featured us, with another couple, because won the cruise-long trivia contest, although all we had to do was stand up on stage and accept a trophy.) 17 January: At Sea The end of the cruise is near and today's sea day was, of course, filled with packing and finalizing business with the ship. As usual, the last night's dress code is smart casual. Entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was a combination of the female vocalist and the xylophonist, however they did not perform together! 18 January: Disembarkation, Valparaiso and Santiago, Chile In many years of cruising, this was the first time we've ever experienced a delay in disembarking due to local authorities not clearing the ship as planned. All passengers were in their disembarkation stations awaiting "lift off," while the entertainment and activities staff tried to keep all apprised of progress. The delay was approximately one hour, then groups of passengers were quickly released. Upon disembarkation, passengers were escorted into a large hall and formed two lines with a space of about 20 feet between them. All carry-off bags were to be lined up along the space, accompanied by their owner standing behind. Sniffer dogs inspected each bag and once satisfied that the bags contained no contraband, each line of people was released. This exercise was primarily an agricultural inspection, but there were also customs agents on hand. We saw no one detained. We had again arranged ahead of time for a private tour and transfer with Enatur Chile. Our driver patiently waited during the delayed disembarkation and we were soon met by our English-speaking guide, Alejandra. She guided us on a visit of Valparaiso, including one of three Pablo Nerudo homes, a memorial in the middle of town, and a scenic overlook / marketplace on a hill. We then proceeded to Vina del Mar for lunch. We enjoyed fresh salmon, shrimp and crab at the oceanfront Los Pomairinos, recommended by our guide. We're not eaters of huge lunches, but this was an exception, and we are glad we filled up before the long trip home. Also here, we tried a local white wine and the national cocktail, a Pisco Sour. The food and drink comes highly recommended, now by us. (But be aware, the lunch cost approached $100 US.) After lunch, Alejandra insisted that we take off our shoes and walk down the beach. At first we were reluctant, as we were dressed more for air travel than for a day at the beach, but we complied and it was a nice diversion before we returned to the van for the 90 minute trip to Santiago. The cost of this tour and transfer for two was again $260 total. In comparison to Celebrity's 50-person motor coach options, or the airport only cab fare of $200, we felt we got a good deal. Once we arrived at the airport, our guide wanted to accompany us to the ticket desk and we were glad she did, because after about a 30 minute wait in line, we learned there was trouble with our tickets. Her language expertise helped translate us out of a mess and we were on our way. A few notes about the ship and service First of all, know that I have high standards of service, cleanliness and maintenance. I'm less picky about food, since anything a cruise ship will offer is better than I can do at home. We had an inside cabin for this trip. We've had an inside once before, otherwise have had a balcony once and oceanview about 12 times. The inside was fine. I liked the quiet of the location at midship on the third deck. It was the cheapest cabin this itinerary offered and we didn't feel like we were traveling at any less of a "status" than the rest of the passengers. For the incredibly cheap price we paid, it would have been more expensive to stay home. OK, one beef: what is up with the archaic Sony Trinitron TVs in the staterooms? We brought a plethora of DVDs along with our portable player to plug in and get caught up on our movies. No outlets! Unbelievable, but we recovered the situation by visiting the library and reading more books. We thought the food was fine. Might it have "gone downhill" lately, as others have said? Perhaps the servings are a little smaller and there may be fewer offerings, but we were satisfied with it all. I expect some cutbacks in this economy. I'm not going to bemoan the fact that some garnish has been left out of the goat cheese soufflE presentation. No doubt others may have had a different experience, and that information should be carefully weighed with this opinion. We still enjoy the scheduled and assigned seating situation with regard to evening dining and we also enjoy the enhanced dress. We don't want to live our lives in sweat pants; we like to dress for dinner and see others look nice, too. When our high school teachers told us this we thought they were crazy, but we have to agree now that we're adults: people act more civilized when they are dressed appropriately. This seemed to be true of the passengers on this trip. This cruise brought our first experience with Celebrity's a la carte dining in the SS United States. We had not planned to dine here, but decided to try it and our tablemates were kind enough to let us tag along on their reservation. The meal was absolutely exquisite in taste and service! The food was impeccably prepared and presented. The one-to-one service was flawless. Not a fan of the "add on," I was a skeptic, but after the experience, I recommend everyone give it a try. We felt, while there might have been some wear-and-tear on the ship, there just was not enough to distract or justify any whining. Public spaces are generally in need of renovation after six years. This guideline is for spaces like retail stores and entertainment venues which see service for only part of each day. For a ship that has been in service 24 / 7 for 8 years with little or no renovation, it's in fine shape. Our stateroom, the public spaces and the amenities were all appropriately clean and maintained. The service, from cabin stewards, to activities staff, to waitstaff was good. I don't ask for anything beyond having my needs met. We found everyone to be in good humor all of the time. The smiles greeting you in the hallways were there. The can-do attitude at the customer relations desk was there. The eager-to-please efforts by the activities staff were there. If there have been cutbacks in staffing, it was not obvious to us. Every one of the staff was busy all of the time trying to please the passengers. Sure, above-and-beyond service is always nice, but I judge a good cruise by how little I am distracted by bad service, maintenance or cleanliness. I had no distractions whatsoever on this trip, and for that Celebrity is to be commended; especially if there have been cuts somewhere. There is simply no other way that you can travel at this standard for under $100 per day, including transportation, entertainment and all the food you can eat. Some information about departing Chile, connecting in Argentina, and/or going to the US You will pay a departure tax of about $18 US and you can pay in US dollars, Chilean Pesos or Euros. You pay this after you've checked in at the ticket desk. You will be subject to a security interview at the ticket desk where you check in for your flight. Have all of your paperwork ready. They may even want to see your cruise paperwork to help substantiate your "story." Couples and families may be separated and interviewed separately. There is an additional Chilean arrival tax in excess of $100 US and we were never asked to pay this, assuming it had been part of our cruise fare. You will go through passport control / customs at least once, perhaps more than once and perhaps they are separate entities altogether. Just get in line and suck it up. You will go through security screening (metal detector), but may not have to take off shoes, start up laptops, or whatever. Or...you might! It's inconsistent. You'll be subject to security questions AGAIN, and a potential search of carry-on luggage at the gate. In our case, the same person who questioned us at the ticket desk also questioned us later at the gate! Again, each person is interviewed / searched separately, and you can't "hang around" with your spouse or traveling companion as they are searched and questioned. Do not be tempted to get on the plane with any liquids. Don't be tempted to buy a bottle of water for the plane or those last bottles of wine or liquor in the duty free shop, as they will be confiscated. This is due to local interpretation of US Homeland Security requirements and they simply do not care that you purchased these items after you went through security. These items are confiscated at the gate, so you'll have no opportunity to check them. (No different than traveling from Europe.) We left Santiago and connected to a return US flight in Buenos Aires. While the requirements leaving Santiago were minimal (just paying tax) because we were traveling within South America. But Buenos Aires airport was a different story: the number of lines we had to stand in, people we had to answer and documents we had to produce were numerous. We counted the number of lines, we had to stand in for various taxes, questions and inspections from the moment we disembarked the ship until the moment we arrived home 24 hours later and the number was 18. PLAN FOR THIS IN YOUR TIMING. Summary In all, this was a great itinerary. It's a nice balance of scenery and culture; activity and rest. While the airfare is expensive, the cruise fare is not and the expenses on shore are positively bargains. We had just been to Alaska for the first time six months prior to this cruise and are of the opinion that if you like an Alaskan cruise, you will very much enjoy a South American cruise. Some pre-conceived perceptions were quickly vanquished, like the one that South America would be a lot like Mexico, or that it would be cold, icy and uncomfortable, or that its coasts would be filled with poverty and people. It was a relatively uncrowded, warm and sunny place filled with tourist-friendly people eager to please. This is vastly different than a European cruise of similar length. There is just not the run-run-run mentality that Europe requires. You can see South American museums within a short time and still have time left over in the port to shop, sightsee, or wander. The choices between excursions aren't painful like they are in Europe. (There's no deciding between equally compelling Amalfi Coast or Pompeii.) Each port is known for a handful of things. The activities and sites are not too far afield and relatively inexpensive to access. Enjoy your trip! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
This cruise - taken January 2009 - was well planned, researched and joyously anticipated.  We started in Buenos Aires and ended in Valpariso - with wonderful stops and sights in-between.  This is certainly an itinerary that most people ... Read More
This cruise - taken January 2009 - was well planned, researched and joyously anticipated.  We started in Buenos Aires and ended in Valpariso - with wonderful stops and sights in-between.  This is certainly an itinerary that most people would enjoy - rounding Cape Horn - visiting penguin rookeries, and seeing all types of unusual wildlife.However, the boat - oy, the boat.  This was our 26th cruise - and never have we sailed on a ship that was in such a careless state.  Everything was shabby - the dirty, smelly upholstery in the common areas, the linens - the dirty windows throughout the ship.  What is Celebrity thinking?  Unfortunately, they are offering wonderful itineraries on a ship that has seen far better days.  The term "ship shape" certainly does not apply to this vessel.  On our journey we had a Captain who thought he was a comedian - very casual in his demeanor.  We thought that perhaps his casual attititude filtered down to the staff.  Now the Captain has changed, and from what we have read on Cruisecritic, the condition of the vessel has not improved.The dining staff were wonderful.  However, the food was not.  One chef explained to us that the provisions they pick up at the start of the cruise are, oftentimes, not the best quality - and they have to work with what they get.  Our waiters, who were great, were apologetic most evenings - because the food, while plated beautifully, was not up to par. We would not take this ship again - but unfortunately would enjoy sailing on some of their itineraries - but the condition of the ship makes that impossible.  It was an unclean, unpleasant enviorment - something I thought I would never say about a cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
Celebrity flew me on Delta from JFK non stop to Buenos Aires on Jan 3 and American Airlines on the return Feb 15 with a stop in Miami connecting to JFK. I would have preferred to book my own air as I would have flown American round trip, ... Read More
Celebrity flew me on Delta from JFK non stop to Buenos Aires on Jan 3 and American Airlines on the return Feb 15 with a stop in Miami connecting to JFK. I would have preferred to book my own air as I would have flown American round trip, but I was afraid of bad weather so I reluctantly allowed Celebrity to book air. I was not happy with the air arrangement, but I felt it was the smart move as Celebrity would guarantee making the ship in case of bad weather. The flights were very smooth just a little tedious as non stop took 10 and a half hours. Embarkation went smoothly provided that the passengers had all the proper documents completed, which the majority did. Total time to board the ship was about 15 minutes. Well done Celebrity. I have sailed on other Celebrity ships but this was a first time on the Infinity. The ship is only 9 years old but is really showing signs of wear and tear. I booked a Sky Suite on Deck 6 midship and as we encountered rough seas there was just as must pitching in the cabin as would have been forward or aft of the ship. Midship location should have been relatively movement free, but I think the Infinity has some problems that should have been fixed, but weren't. Public rooms were nicely appointed but lacked imagination. Activities onboard were very repetitious if not down right boring. I really took this ship not so much for a luxury cruise experience but rather for the itinerary that it was sailing. The dining experience was a complete turnaround compared to other Celebrity cruises in the past. I have sailed on the inaugural voyage of the Horizon as this was my first Celebrity cruise, and I feel confident to say that the quality as well as the preparation has gone down dramatically. The food makes the cruise. I would rather see Celebrity cut back on other amenities rather than the food. Last Celebrity cruise for me unfortunately. I must say that all the staff was most accommodating and always pleasant. They are just following what they are told to do. It's a shame. The ports of call were fabulous as well although I would have like to spend a little more time in some of them, especially Ushuaia Argentina and Port Stanley Falklands. I must tell you though it was very difficult to pack for this trip as there were so many changes in weather and temperature. I started out in Buenos Aires at 82 degrees, but by the time we reached Cape Horn I needed my winter jacket, gloves,scarf and hat as the temperature was at 30 degrees. I watched the snow covered glaciers from my veranda and as the cruise progressed it became even colder. So much for summer in South America. Ushuaia is the embarkation point for the Antarctica sailings and we were on about 500 miles or less from the tip of Antarctica literally the end of the earth. The trip is really a must do once in your lifetime. All in all, it was a wonderful trip, however I feel Celebrity has gone down quite a bit. Quite honestly, I would have preferred to take Silversea but they did not offer the same itinerary that I wanted for that particular two weeks. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
BEFORE THE CRUISE We arrived in Buenos Aires shortly after midnight for a three night stay prior to the cruise following the long flight from South Africa that entailed a five hour transit stopover in Sao Paulo - one of the most bland, and ... Read More
BEFORE THE CRUISE We arrived in Buenos Aires shortly after midnight for a three night stay prior to the cruise following the long flight from South Africa that entailed a five hour transit stopover in Sao Paulo - one of the most bland, and uninteresting airports we have yet encountered! Fortunately we had prearranged transfers and were met on time by the tour company representative at BA airport for our short transfer to our comfortable downtown hotel, the Claridge. We were pretty exhausted by this time so the large, airy room with comfortable bed was most welcoming. Our welcome pack included details of a range of tours and attractions on offer in Buenos Aires and surrounds. On our first day in BA after sleeping in and a late breakfast, we organized a half day orientation city tour which gave us our bearings and a useful understanding of the layout of the city and location of most major attractions. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, well laid out with wide boulevards, impressive statues and historical monuments and plenty of green space for relaxing and enjoying the ambience of the environment. We followed this by an "obligatory" tango and dinner show at a very up market venue, the Carlos Gardel restaurant and theatre. Good food, plenty of quaffable local wine and a splendid tango show with very lithe, athletic dancers in beautiful costumes, showing the evolution of the dance over the past century. Very enjoyable evening. The following day we did our own thing exploring the city on foot. After a late breakfast and some last minute shopping, we spent the balance of the last day soaking up the sunshine around the hotel pool prior to the commencement of the cruise. EMBARKATION For some reason (we were never given a satisfactory explanation), we had been advised not to check in before 18h00 at the earliest despite the sail departure time scheduled only three hours later at 21h00. We nevertheless decided to go to the dock a bit earlier at about 16h30 only to find that we were among the last passengers to check in - many had checked in shortly after midday. We understand that certain cabin categories have priority check in privileges but we were still at a loss as to why we were asked to check in so late. We had booked and fully paid for the trip over nine months in advance, had a balcony cabin category so there did not seem to be any valid reason why we had been relegated to the back of the queue as it were! However, despite this minor glitch embarkation formalities were completed relatively smoothly and we were soon onboard enjoying a welcoming glass of bubbly. THE SHIP Celebrity Infinity proved to be something of a disappointment. In retrospect we probably had unrealistically high expectations of the cruiseline which is marketed as a premium carrier. While our overall experience was generally as good as any of our previous cruises (Royal Caribbean, MSC, Star and Norwegian), it is not significantly better than any of our previous cruises. Indeed, many passengers who had previously traveled with Celebrity remarked that there had been a discernible downscaling in overall standards. We guess this is probably the case with most other cruiselines as well as pressures to cut costs and focus on the bottom line increase during the current global economic crisis. Despite these misgivings, Celebrity Infinity is a lovely ship, well laid out with generally very good facilities and amenities. She is however, showing signs of her age and is clearly in need of refurbishment. Notwithstanding obvious signs of wear and tear all public areas are nonetheless kept impeccably clean at all times so we had no complaints on this score. Our balcony cabin was what one would expect on a ship of this nature. No better or worse than we have experienced on other cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean, Star, MSC and Norwegian. Somewhat cramped but with adequate space and plenty of nooks and crannies to store things. Our starboard balcony proved to be a godsend, particularly for this trip as many of the major viewing attractions could best be seen from the starboard side. DINING We generally found the food on this cruise to be good to very good. We dined most evenings in the Trellis restaurant (main dining room) and found both the food and service to be generally of a very high order. The Maitre'D in our section of the dining room had South African connections so he took it upon himself to ensure that our table had no cause for complaint. Buffet meals in the Oceanview Cafe and Grill were invariably varied and well prepared, while health breakfasts in the Aquaspa Cafe were particularly good. In fact probably our worst meal on the entire voyage was in the specialty restaurant the SS United States, which charges USD 30 per head for the privilege to eat there. Although the ambience of the restaurant and quality of service were outstanding, I had to send my overcooked fillet steak back twice. I did not bother a third time as by now, all the other guests at our table had completed their meals and were waiting for deserts and coffee. I received an apology form the Maitre'D. However, I would have preferred that he waived the USD 30 couvert!! ENTERTAINMENT As seems typical on cruises, entertainment ranged for the reasonably good to the appallingly mediocre. A couple of so called comedians were well past their sell by date while on the other hand, we thought one or two of the Vegas style extravaganzas performed by the ship's energetic singers and dancers were very good indeed. Bands and ensembles playing at various venues throughout the ship were generally of a high standard. FITNESS AND RECREATION Not up to standard expected from a so called premium cruiseline. Equipment appeared to be poorly maintained - many items of equipment were inoperable and no attempt seemed to be made to repair these items notwithstanding the 15 day cruise; calibrations on e.g. the treadmills were completely inaccurate and way off acceptable limits; at times sweat towels were unavailable; while the change rooms were often left in a mess. Range of available equipment was nonetheless satisfactory. SHORE EXCURSIONS We found these to be very expensive. Passengers were continually warned not to opt for local tours as these were likely to be unreliable. However, in most ports one could find perfectly competent local tour operators willing to offer tours almost identical to those promoted by Celebrity, at considerably reduced cost. Although we did not use any such local operator (except at our final destination in Valparaiso), fellow passengers we spoke towho did arrange local tours were all more than satisfied with what they paid for. In the event, we only did two ship excursions and both although enjoyable, were incredibly expensive for what actually was on offer. We enjoy touring new destinations on foot wherever feasible so in most destinations, we did our own thing using the more than adequate street maps usually handed out for free as we disembarked. SERVICE We certainly had no complaints about the general standard of service which at all times was friendly, courteous and efficient. Most operational staff were either East European, Indian, Filipino or Chinese but language was never a problem. The service we received from our cabin steward and the waiting staff in the main Trellis restaurant was particularly commendable. THE CRUISE All in all this was a fascinating, interesting and exhilarating cruise experience. The southern reaches of South America that we toured are hauntingly beautiful. Remote, desolate, barren but with fantastic scenery. At times the scenery is quite breathtaking, particularly the Cape Horn area, the Beagle Channel glaciers and the Chilean fjords. The majestic views of the glaciers in the Beagle Channel were almost worth the cost of the trip alone! Rounding of the Cape Horn is also a spectacular and once in a lifetime experience. We had been anticipating rough stormy seas usually experienced when rounding the Horn (the wife had already taken her motion sickness pills in expectation of inclement weather), but, somewhat disappointingly, the seas were absolutely benign on the day! Apart from the truly magnificent scenery, many parts of the continent that we cruised by are pretty bleak. After the big cites of Buenos Aires and Montevideo and the Punta Del Este holiday playground, most of the ports towns we docked at are small, remote, sparsely populated and with minimal attractions other than their generally spectacular settings. Additionally, many are not yet really geared for tourism and many shops in most of the smaller ports still closed for the traditional Spanish siesta from 1 pm to 4 pm despite the fact that there were usually two cruise ships in town with hundreds of well heeled Americans anxious to find ways to spend their dollars! Not an area we would necessarily want to visit again but we are really glad we have now had the opportunity of seeing some of the major sights and attractions of this vast, beautiful continent. As one of the gust speakers on board (an expert on South America) noted in one of his knowledgeable and humorous talks, visiting the southern tips of this remote continent should really be seen as embarking on an adventure; an adventure to areas that few people have had the privilege of experiencing. Indeed, many of the parts of continent we cruised past have probably never ever been inhabited - at least not by the human species, leaving one with a feeling of awe and wonder about how the ancient explorers must have felt when first witnessing the splendour of this majestic part of the planet. DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation proceeded smoothly. We had arranged a couple of private tours prior to returning home. Firstly a very interesting tour of Valparaiso, the old port town which now houses the Chilean parliament, and it's modern sister Vina del Mar followed by a scenic drive though the Chilean winelands on route for our overnight stay in Santiago. The following day we toured the city of Santiago and surrounds before being dropped off at our airport hotel to prepare for our long trip back to South Africa starting with 03h45 wake up call the following morning! CONCLUDING COMMENTS All in all a great trip tempered only by some slight misgivings about the quality of Celebrity which failed in some instances to live up to it's marketing promise of a premium cruise experience. A final comment on the liquor policy of most cruiselines. Liquor prices on board are horrendously expensive particularly for those like us who have to closely watch the purchasing power of our own currency against the dollar. One can fully understand the prohibition on bringing liquor on board for consumption in public bars and restaurants. However, the current practice that prevents passengers bringing limited liquor on board to enjoy in their own stateroom, is a policy cruiselines such as Celebrity really need to question and reconsider failing which they run the risk of killing the golden goose as more and more passengers transfer to cruiselines that include limited free alcohol in their pricing structures and hence ultimately offer better value for money. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was an unusual cruise, to say the least. The Antarctic is known for its primeval beauty, and its fierce storms, and we encountered both. I would NOT recommend this cruise for first-timers. Though this ship was scheduled to stop in the ... Read More
This was an unusual cruise, to say the least. The Antarctic is known for its primeval beauty, and its fierce storms, and we encountered both. I would NOT recommend this cruise for first-timers. Though this ship was scheduled to stop in the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia (Argentina-Tierra Del Fuego), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), and Montevideo (Uruguay), the main attraction was being able to cast one's eyes on the Antarctic continent close-up (can't set foot on it). I have been on some fifteen cruises. This was the second one with Celebrity (curiously, had the same band leader and ship's doctor as previous cruise in Australia). We expected and received the courteous, considerate, and highly competent service from our stateroom steward, waiter, and busboy. Typically, Celebrity's style is more subdued and sophisticated than Carnival/Princess, etc. This was Celebrity's (and the Captain's) first venture to Antarctica. This voyage was plagued with extremely stormy weather that prevented stopping at the Falklands, Elephant Island, and curtailed our Antarctic visit to a mere six hours or so. We had to dodge some of the violent weather this region is known for, but still got whipped with 50 mph blizzards and high seas. I had purposely reserved a room low in the ship and amidships to minimize ship movement (I am prone to motion sickness). I can truthfully say I never became more than just a little queasy, and that was in the theater at the very front of the ship on the most violent night. I was surprised but delighted. The Captain had to change course several times to avoid the worst of the storms, and I'm sure the Infinity used up a lot more fuel than usual. That being said, Antarctica is breathtakingly beautiful, majestic, and bountiful with wildlife. Penguins, whales, sea lions, sea birds, and the quiet whiteness are a sight few people actually witness. I have no real regrets. But...after leaving Buenos Aires behind, we did not see land again for seven long days. Most of those days were tempest-tossed, and much of the time the decks outside were closed to passengers. So we were a little cooped up, and morale ebbed. We were accompanied by several albatrosses that had distinctive enough markings to give names to, and they followed the ship for days. Seeing Cape Horn (our first land in seven days) was a thrilling sight, and I can identify with sailors of old, joyously shouting "Land Ho!" I don't feel Celebrity had anticipated the long days at sea, and had little to do for cooped-up passengers forced to stay inside. Sometimes even dopey contests and craft classes are better than thumb-twiddling. Entertainment: It seems a feature of Celebrity is top quality music entertainment. The ship's band was superb, as was the string quartet, the a capella quartet (our favorite—"SoulD Out"), piano folk, and the Latin guitarist. I really liked that these talented musicians played various times in small venues around the ship, rather than just on the big stage during scheduled productions. The dance-and-song stage production group was highly professional and talented. Their main shows were wonderful (except for "Boogie Nights" which seemed disjointed, too loud and frantic). The comedian was superb, and we were supposed to see him again, but schedule and itinerary changes left him out of the lineup. What we (I/we is with a non-Cruise-Critic member, my significant other) DIDN'T like about this cruise was the aforementioned forced idleness, lack of seating, lack of outdoor space and seating, terrible embarkation (At Puerto Madryn, maybe two thousand+ people standing outside in a single line as a single-lane gangway tried to embark everyone—took an hour). Hey Celebrity, you guys HAVE been doing this cruise thing a while, haven't you?? The food and food service was outstanding in the main dining room and the Aqua Spa. I really didn't like the Oceanview Cafe's buffet lines where you had to BE served and couldn't choose your own food and grab-and-go. They did have a variety of various countries' foods, but much of the regular fare was just mediocre. Our stateroom was just OK. Our balcony had peeling paint and rust, and we only used it occasionally due to the inclement weather, but we loved looking out the ceiling-to-floor window. Shower stall was "large" and water plentiful. Curved bed was a little awkward. Would have liked exterior hair-drier (Princess has these). Stops: Ushuaia reminds me of Seward, Alaska. Dramatic mountain-and-inlet scenery. Treeline started about a thousand feet up the mountains, and snow started shortly thereafter (even in "summer"). Ushuaia proclaims itself the "End of the World", but curiously, we had to sail 200 miles NORTHWARDS to get there! Shopping is minimal. Local people are friendly (as they were in all stops). Puerto Madryn is scrub desert, treeless and brown, but wild guanacos (and of course the Magellanic penguins) abound. The penguin rookery is astounding—these birds BURROW into hard dirt like foxes, and are completely unafraid of humans—we walked among them casually. Montevideo was nothing special—a shabby city with little to offer. I am a WW II naval buff, so the story and artifacts of the Graf Spee encounter was the draw—-the mast-top rangefinder and anchor of the Graf Spee are right by the cruise dock! We booked the shore-excursion-and-airport-drop-off option the last day back in Buenos Aires and LOVED the city tour and visit to the estancia. The food was terrific (and bountiful, with wine, too!) and the gauchos put on a horsemanship exhibition of charging at full gallop to snare a tiny "key ring" with their yerba mate straws. A successful gaucho, to crowd applause, finds a young (or not-so-young) lady to give the ring to, and steal a kiss! Our economical cruise fare included air (which we won't likely do again--our seats were separated but luckily we got that changed at the last minute), but no time before or after for shopping or wandering. Airport-to-cruiseport shuttle took us on the ugliest, least-scenic route possible. I can't say this was my favorite cruise. It was, however, highly memorable. I am satisfied that, under the circumstances, I was able to see Antarctica and some of South America, but at great cost in money and time to accomplish. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires- Valparaiso - January 3-17,2010 My wife and I have traveled extensively but this was our first cruise and we were apprehensive - unfortunately some of our concerns proved correct! Our flights - arranged ... Read More
Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires- Valparaiso - January 3-17,2010 My wife and I have traveled extensively but this was our first cruise and we were apprehensive - unfortunately some of our concerns proved correct! Our flights - arranged through Celebrity had us flying from Toronto- Washington(Dulles)- Buenos Aires. There was just over an hour between connections and as most travelers know,these days with security etc.- that is not enough time. We tried to change the departure to an earlier flight ( there were seats available)but neither Celebrity nor the airline (United) would agree. So as anticipated we missed our connection in Dulles. We had to re-book our flight to Buenos Aires for the following night and so wasted a whole day at a Dulles Airport hotel. We phoned Celebrity and were assured that a representative would meet us on arrival at Buenos Aires - but no such representative showed up ( Celebrity even gave us the wrong terminal to meet and we spent a lot of time running back and forth between both). We finally took a taxi - had to wait half an hour for an'official' taxi. There was no Celebrity representative at the dock so we had to haul our luggage through a shed ( my wife had a nasty fall) - on to a bus and finally get to the ship. We were not expected so security had to call up for someone to come down and get us - more hassle. ON BOARD: Cabin was comfortable- we had a veranda. Cabin stewards and all of the staff were cheerful, friendly and efficient. FOOD: Good, with a number of eating areas. Fixed seating at dinner was disappointing ( we should have requested a change) BAR: Expensive - particularly with the extra gratuities ( we also had to pay $22 per day for general gratuities). ENTERTAINMENT: Generally good OUTDOOR POOLS: Too cold to swim - indoor hot/tub small pool - crowded. Our biggest disappointment is that Celebrity has not truly acknowledged the hassles we encountered the first two days. Missing our connection was the result of poor planning by Celebrity and the fact they would not change our flights compounded the problem. We booked this cruise not only to see something of South America - the only area we had not visited - and we particularly wanted to see Buenos Aires. We have written twice to President of Celebrity - Mr.Dan Hanrahan -but we were informed by one of his assistants that he does not read such letters. We did receive a letter of apology from Corporate Guest Relations- but that was it!! With so many cruise lines to choose from it is highly unlikely that we will ever travel on Celebrity again. Puerto Madryn - Argentina. We took a trip to Punta Tombo Penguin Rockery- the largest penguin breeding grounds in South America. This the highlight of our trip. It was fascinating to get up close to so many penguins, the guide was excellent. A really worthwhile adventure Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We arrived in Buenos Aires a day early in order to see a bit of the city and to try to recover from a series of flights (17 hours air time plus five more hours waiting in terminals). We stayed at a small boutique hotel called the Recoleta ... Read More
We arrived in Buenos Aires a day early in order to see a bit of the city and to try to recover from a series of flights (17 hours air time plus five more hours waiting in terminals). We stayed at a small boutique hotel called the Recoleta Guesthouse. We were well treated and the location was such that we could walk to several tourist sites. It is also reasonably close to a subway station if you are so inclined. The Recoleta people arranged for transportation to a tango show (glad we went but I don't care if I ever see another one - my wife probably disagrees!) and, the next day, for a cab to the terminal. And thus our cruise adventure began! Embarkation: This was our first cruise on Celebrity and our 13th in total. We had always assumed that Celebrity was somewhat upscale from its sister line, Royal Caribbean, on which we had sailed five times and we looked forward to the experience and the destinations. Alas, our first impressions were not positive. The embarkation experience was terrible! After finally finding the correct place, our cabbie - who incidentally did NOT try to extort any extra money and seemed embarrassed by the confusion - dropped us off at the end of a long line in front of a warehouse. This line progressed slowly to a luggage drop-off area whereupon you returned outside to yet another line. Passengers eventually worked their way to various crowded service desks and, once again, reversed course, this time crossing a queue and walking through an opening in a large metal wall that divided the warehouse in two. And what was on the other side? A large empty room. So while people were standing in the rain getting soaked, there was a large, dry room available. (Actually, Celebrity does use this space as the post-cruise luggage pick up area.) Then, onto a bus for the kilometer long ride to the ship and yet another line and another soaking from the rain. Really, Celebrity. You are supposed to be experts in queue management but you've obviously forgotten at least two simple rules. Never have people walking in reverse directions in the same queue and, if at all possible, avoid queues crossing. Both are invitations to line jumping of which there were numerous examples. The Infinity: When we first booked the cruise, I was curious as to what I might expect from a ship of that size (1950 passengers, 91,000 tons) and age (launched in 2001). As it happens we had sailed on the Brilliance of the Seas (2500 passengers, 90,000 tons with a 2002 launch date) and the Carnival Spirit (2670 passengers, 89,000 tons, also launched in 2001). With its size advantage and fewer passengers, one would expect better service and, for the most part, Celebrity delivered. The ship itself doesn't have the WOW factor of the Brilliance but it is comfortable and easy to get around. I understand that the Infinity has a major refurbishing scheduled and not a moment too soon - it is definitely showing its age. . Our cabin (2015) was an interior and obviously low in the ship. My parsimonious nature paid a good return as our location offered a relatively smooth ride on some of the heaviest seas we had ever encountered. Cabin 2015 is slightly undersized relative to others but quite comfortable with the exception of the pillows which were very thin and hard. Attention Celebrity: steal some pillows from Holland America or, at least, their idea of offering a choice of pillow firmness. This does not have to wait for the refurbish - do it now. Consistent with the rest of the ship, our facilities were in need of attention, especially the shower. The toilet seat was so scratched as to invite speculation that it was stolen from an outhouse at a fishing camp in northern Quebec. We were unable to control the room's temperature but the eventual installation of a new water regulator solved this problem. The Food The dining room and buffet offered excellent food both in terms of quality and variety. Of my 14 dinners in the dining room, only two were mediocre - a seafood medley that was overcooked and a sirloin steak that was trying to masquerade as filet mignon but was way too tough. My wife commented to our waiter (Cedric) about the relative shortage of vegetables on her main course. Within a few minutes, Cedric appeared with a plate filled with carrots, broccoli, and asparagus, all cooked to perfection. A similar plate appeared automatically every night - nice touch! Cedric and Abdul served us well. Entertainment If you like music, this was the cruise for you. In addition to the house band, there were at least three other groups and two solo acts (piano and guitar) on board for the full voyage. Each was very good in their own way with my favorite being the Latin American group who played in the Constellation Lounge. In addition, guest performers included a classical violinist, a classical pianist, a singer, and a comedian who was very good but only put on one show. The ship's entertainment group was excellent in putting on four different programs plus a couple of short appearances. One other note, there were two guest speakers, a geologist and a naturalist, who gave numerous talks. Both were excellent and attracted large audiences. The Itinerary This cruise was eventful. After leaving Buenos Aires, we sailed for the Falkland Islands. Unfortunately, we were told that fog and high seas would prevent the operation of tenders and that we would skip this stop. We were very disappointed as we had hoped to see this remote part of the world (but, I'll bet, not nearly so disappointed as the passenger who lugged an extra suitcase to drop off at the brother of a neighbor back home). So on to Elephant Island. Or not. More high seas and the decision was made to divert to Ushuaia several days earlier than expected. This decision touched off some very loud complaints and suddenly, security guards were evident throughout the ship - something we had never noticed on previous cruises. I befriended one guard and later asked if the rumor was true that a number of passengers had been kicked off the ship in Ushuaia. He smiled and said that Celebrity would never take such action but that several passengers had left for medical reasons and several others left due to "itinerary changes." Fortunately the weather in Antarctica cleared up and we set sail (is that still an appropriate phrase?) to Paradise Bay and the Gerlache Strait. The six hours we sailed these waters were magical with enough ice bergs, whales, penguins, and seals to last a lifetime. I suppose our acquaintance with Antarctica is the equivalent of someone from Japan sailing around Alcatraz and saying that they had seen the United States but it was great nonetheless. Off to Puerto Madryn and the penguin rookery. Due to a warning of poor road conditions and fearing a breakdown of local transportation, we decided to play it safe and go with the ship's tour. One advantage of taking a tour rather than hiring a cab is the knowledge obtained from the tour guide. In our case, we had a young school teacher who did a great job. BTW, the roads were actually pretty good.. Oh - and we did see magellanic penguins. Thousands of them. Puerto Madryn is clearly not set up for tour ships - the local retailers were closed from one o'clock until three or so and there was not a single Diamonds International in sight :-) The countryside is a near desert with plastic bags and other bits of garbage stuck on every bush. So sailing north along the coast of Argentina should put us out of the rough weather, right? Nope. In our path was a strong low pressure system that gave us our highest waves yet despite the fact that the ship diverted from its intended route. Of course, a late evening dessert buffet was scheduled and was highlighted by staff hanging on to the ice sculptures for dear life. I actually felt some sympathy for Celebrity. Many passengers were most unreasonable in their complaints as if Celebrity somehow controlled the weather. The various diversions and the heavy use of the ship's stabilizers undoubtedly ran up their fuel bill substantially. And they certainly didn't make much on their casino operations. The total slot payout for the entire14 days was under $100,000. Our cruise on the Liberty (with twice as many passengers but only 7 days long) totaled $1.4 million. Perhaps that is why there were no refunds or 'make-ups' for missed ports, something we did experience on previous cruises. Montevideo at last. We walked around, visited several "leather factories" and a large facility with perhaps a dozen barbeque restaurants. Real tourist stuff in what seems like an interesting city. Other Kudos: - I suspect the staff has a "six foot rule" as anyone associated with the ship - entertainers, officers, crew - greeted you warmly regardless of where you encountered them. - the staff in the photography shop were most helpful. They would show you how to use your camera, charge batteries, etc. They also produced a great cruise DVD that focused on scenery rather than belly flopping contests. They were rewarded for their efforts by selling close to 600 copies, an all time high for the Infinity. Other Quibbles: - a complaint that I think I have had on every cruise is that the main lounge, the Constellation on the Infinity, is not smoke free. On several occasions, we tried to spend some time in the lounge but were forced to retreat. This was also the venue where they held the ballroom dance classes for some reason (BTW, Katie and Craig from the dance troupe did a great job as teachers) leading to some new dance moves as you tried to wave away the smoke. The spittoons are gone, so why not the ash trays? - the ship's art collection is abysmal (don't bother going to the garage sale!) - the TV in our cabin was so old that I think it ran on kerosene. No big deal as we didn't watch it much anyway but it did seem out of place. - the clocks on the promenade deck were operating but always at the wrong time. If you can't keep a clock running properly ..... Some Tips for New Cruisers. Cruise Fact #1: you will never see these people again. Cruise Fact #2: you paid good money for this cruise, you deserve a good return. Let's start with deck chairs. Not all deck chairs are created equal. Here are some tips to ensure that you get your fair share of the premium locations. Go to the library and grab a book at random. Any book will do. Do NOT sign out the book because if you do they will expect you to return it. As early as you are able, go to the pool area and spread a towel or two on the desired deck chairs. Open the book and lay it on the chair. A rumpled t-shirt is also a nice touch. Now, go to the buffet and commandeer a prime table. Have a leisurely breakfast - at least two hours. Ignore those people walking around with trays looking for a place to sit. Remember the two cruise facts - and besides, it is not your fault that the ship designers undersized the restaurant. After breakfast, wander down to the shops and see what is going on sale today. Then spend some time looking for your pics in the photo gallery. Are you now ready for a swim? Your deck chair is waiting for you - unless some rude person has moved your stuff. Experienced cruisers can also be spotted in the theatre shows. These events offer a great time to catch up on your text messages. This will annoy other guests but don't worry about it - read the cruise facts again. Oh. You can ignore the cruise director's suggestion that you do not use flash photography. Flash away! They never kick anybody out of the theatre. If someone actually does say something, well, just shrug and pretend you don't speak English. Love these international cruises. If you enjoyed these tips, buy my book (and I hope you know I am joking). Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I want to comment on 2 areas that were tricky for us: Activities and Entertainment. My husband and I cruised with our 2 sons who are in their 20s. The food, the glaciers (too fleeting) and the piano bar saved the cruise for us. Enjoyable ... Read More
I want to comment on 2 areas that were tricky for us: Activities and Entertainment. My husband and I cruised with our 2 sons who are in their 20s. The food, the glaciers (too fleeting) and the piano bar saved the cruise for us. Enjoyable cruise overall but we had to find our fun. Mostly, for all 4 of us, that fun happened between 10 and midnight in Michael's Club with the talented pianist/vocalist. Many of the activities involve alcohol (which we drink but we can only chug down so many drinks). ire a fee or are mainly to plug a product, e.g., demos of the language learning computer software, Rosetta Stone. Playing Monopoly with fellow passengers was more fun that participating in staff led trivia and other games. The staff was disinterested and wanted to get the activities over with. A bright spot was the naturalist---he knows his stuff and he knows how to deliver it. Crowds were large to listen to the naturalist talk about whales, glaciers, the moon, etc. His lectures provided passengers a worthwhile way to spend time while staying half sober. Fitness center was fine, but often crowded and we had to wait for cardio machines. The casino can't be open as much as perhaps when sailing to other destinations because of strict laws in Chilean waters. So, with the activities rather drab we looked to the entertainment.... The staff harped on getting guests to sign up to rehearse and perform in a final show. There were few takers and we didn't attend this show. The band in the main lounge and the party band needed practice. An A Capella quartet was good but they played very short sets. A guitarist, Cisneros, was quite pleasant to listen to in the Atrium or aft cafe deck. But our favorite pastime was to head to the piano bar to hear the ship's pianist/vocalist, Tom Listabarger. Tom is outstanding; he can play about any tune you request and really accommodates his audience. I'm not sure what we would have done were it not for the piano bar option each evening. We'd usually went to the Celebrity Theater shows and they were okay, but we wanted more than 45 minutes of entertainment. We found it odd that Tom isn't publicized beyond the routine listing in the daily newsletter. The cruise director would tout the "Starring You" (passengers performances) and the disco but never mentioned the piano bar. Don't believe Tom ever played in the Atrium either---you had to catch him late at night when most passengers were asleep. Expect a relaxing cruise, good cuisine, interesting ports of call and the best pianist/vocalist at sea. If you want anything else, pick a different cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My wife and I were on the Celebrity Infinity cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago leaving Jan. 3, 2010. The ship experience was fine. We had an oceanview cabin on Deck 2. That was what we wanted to minimize the rock and roll expected ... Read More
My wife and I were on the Celebrity Infinity cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago leaving Jan. 3, 2010. The ship experience was fine. We had an oceanview cabin on Deck 2. That was what we wanted to minimize the rock and roll expected "around the Horn", and it worked out fine. Very nice cabin layout with lots of storage and a decent-sized shower. The cabin attendants were indeed very attentive but we made few demands. Dining in the main dining room was okay. They've definitely cut back on the size and quality of the offerings relative to past cruises, though we didn't mind the smaller portions. There weren't dedicated dance instructors as on past cruises. Dancers from the show did it as part of their "day job". The Captain's Club offerings were, however, very generous with the drinks and snacks. The evening shows had much less elaborate costumes and staging than past cruises, though the dancers were very good and enthusiastic. Between the rough seas and generally cool weather, the outside pool wasn't used much. The inside warm salt water pool and whirlpools were pleasant but crowded. The workout room was very nice. Very nice library. One odd thing was the artwork all around the ship seemed to have been chosen by someone on LSD. I won't even try to describe it. The ship is a bit worn mostly in the carpeting and furnishings but it wasn't a problem for us. We arranged airfare with Celebrity. That was okay. We paid for an air deviation to get to BA a couple of days early so we could go to Iguazu on our own. We stayed at the Amerian Portal in Iguazu. It's very nice though the restaurant seemed to be rarely open, and we had to eat dinner at the bar. The breakfast buffet was somewhat disappointing. Our experience at the falls was wonderful. We had a lovely day. We went early on the Lower Circuit. Since the falls are east facing the light lower down is best in the morning. If you take the Green Trail you can avoid the long wait for the train and the trail was almost empty when we started out. We were somewhat worried about the stairs, but we found that going down them was no problem and we came back up on the "ramp" to the Upper Circuit, hardly noticing the climb. We wondered if we'd be able to do the San Martin Island trip on the boat that involved climbing all the way down, but it turned out the island was closed that day due to the high water. (The lower circuit only takes you about halfway down.) We saw lots of butterflies, a few birds, quite a few coatis (that look like nasty racoons), and an iguana-like lizard near the Sheraton. By the time we got finished with the Upper Circuit it was much more crowded "up top". Ironically we ran into a post-cruise tour group of about 100 from the Infinity. For about $900 each they are flown in from BA by charter, bussed to Iguazu, and then herded around the falls for a couple of hours, returning to BA the same evening. We had to queue up for quite a while to get the train to the Garganta del Diablo. Fortunately by the time we got there it wasn't so crowded so that worked out okay. Here there's a longish walk to the Devil's Throat. The falls there are almost overwhelming, but seeing the face of the falls on the lower circuit is more scenic. After Iguazu we returned to BA and took a cab from Jorge Newberry airport to the ship. That airport is very close to the docks, but finding the proper terminal was an adventure. Fortunately I had negotiated a price with the driver beforehand. The instructions given by Celebrity to get to terminal annex were a joke (like "turn right at a stack of containers"). Eventually, after asking several times, the driver found it. It didn't take long to get throught the formalities, but then we had to take a bus to the ship a km away. We got our bags after several hours and settled in. BA really needs a proper cruise terminal. The first day of the cruise was "docked" in BA. It was raining heavily the next morning, By 10 it was letting up so we ventured out to the bus to the terminal annex again. There we found a free ride to H. Stern on Av. Florida near Plaza San Martin, which is where we wanted to go anyway. We walked around there for a while, then we had to look for stamps for my wife's many postcards. We couldn't find the "correo", but a seemingly nice elderly gentlemen indicated we could buy stamps at a newstand nearby. Here we were taken in by the Great Buenos Aires Stamp scam. My wife had purchased over a dozen postcards at Iguazu and dutifully wrote them out. On the ship we were told the stamps would be something like $1.50 each. Yes, the nice gentleman at the newstand had stamps for the equivalent of about $1.50 and both gentlemen helped us put the stamps on the cards. The newstand gentleman said he would take care of mailing them. Several days later in Puerto Madryn, my wife had written more cards and put on stamps from the newstand and she wanted to mail them. We walked past a small correo at the port and she wanted to drop them off there. The man there took a look at the stamps and said they were not actually stamps but "souvenirs". They were identical to regular stamps with a bar code and "DHL" on them. The only difference is they don't say "Argentina" on them. Needless to say the batch left at the BA newstand never arrived at their intended destinations! We didn't go on any of the Celebrity tours as they are expensive and I hate being herded around. In Montevideo we walked around on our own. Most of the interesting sights are in the old town there so that was fine. We went to the Gaucho Museum which is small but interesting. We were going to do Punta del Este on our own, but the sea was too rough to tender so the ship skipped that port. In Puerto Madryn I had arranged for a tour with UALanTour . However, the driver didn't show up. Fortunately we found Flamenco Tours on the dock and they had two seats available for slightly less than UALan wanted. That turned out to be an excellent tour. They took us to the Punta Tombo penguins. It's a long ride but a great tour. This is by far the best place to see the Magellan penguins. I highly recommend Flamenco. In Ushuaia I had reserved a rental car with Budget. I wanted to drive to the "End of the World". That worked out fine except for the weather as it was overcast and raining the whole day. The hardest part was dodging the big tour buses on the narrow muddy road. I'm sure Tierra del Fuego National Park is a beautiful place when you can see the mountains. We went to Lapataia Bay, walked the beaver trail, etc. BTW the big buses can't park where most of the little trails start so it's best to take a private van tour here. In Punta Arenas I had arranged for a tour to Otway Sound penguineria with Patagonia Adventure. The weather again was not very nice, very windy with intermittent showers. At Otway it was hard to walk into the gale and the penguins are much farther away than Punta Tombo. It was interesting but hardly worth it after PT. They also took us around town a bit. The weather around the Beagle Channel and Magellan Channel was overcast all the time. We saw the glaciers but not well. After Puerto Montt it cleared up some but by then there wasn't much to see. In Puerto Montt, I had arranged for a tour of Fruitillar, Puerto Varas, Osorno Volcano with GV Tours. They wanted $200 cash. In their meagre correspondence it wasn't clear if it was a private tour or a van. It turned out to be a van with 10 of us. Fortunately they were a nice group from the US. The day started out cloudy so a Fruitillar we couldn't see the volcanoes but by the time we passed Puerto Varas and went up the east side of the lake it had turned into a beautiful day. We saw Osorno in all its glory. We stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch and then a small ranch type place with llamas and rheas and beautiful views over the lake of Osorno. On the other side was Calbuco(?) volcano with its top blown off by a Richter 9.5 eruption some years ago. After this we went to the Petrohue Falls which were very nice, again with great views of the volcanoes. GV Tours is okay but rather pricey. Our guide was a 17-yr old student. His English was pretty good but he had had little experience as a guide. In Valparaiso we used our Celebrity transfer voucher to get to the Santiago airport. We had time to take the blue bus into town and spend several hours there. Itwas the day of the presidential elections so everything was closed including the restaurants. We wound up eating at Burger King.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2010
When we arrived in Buenos Aires we were met by a couple of young ladies who were rather outnumbered by the size of the party they had to co-ordinate but eventually we were delivered to the hotel. We were surprised how nice it looked but ... Read More
When we arrived in Buenos Aires we were met by a couple of young ladies who were rather outnumbered by the size of the party they had to co-ordinate but eventually we were delivered to the hotel. We were surprised how nice it looked but were assured it was ours, we unloaded our own luggage, the transport left and yes, it was the wrong hotel! It only took about another hour to get collected and re-delivered but after travelling for around 18 hours it was a little frustrating. The NH City & Tower hotel was pleasant but the lack of English gave the impression (as the Internet review stated) that staff were surly and uncommunicative. Next day we went to the ship. We were delivered to a rather dilapidated building with a kind of marquee inside, which housed Celebrity's check-in staff. These girls just did not know what was going on - they had no clue about cabin grades or fast-passes and the queues were massive and confused, the temperatures inside were hot and humid. Not so outside - the huge queues along the dockside were standing in torrential rain! We eventually got checked-in, after we discovered we were in the wrong line and sorted ourselves out. Then the queue was halted again by the insistent company photographers who had a "they shall not pass" philosophy not appreciated by those hundreds still in the rain - you should see some of those photos - drenched to the skin, bedraggled, hair plastered over dripping faces. Several people were ill with colds and chills etc afterwards. We first realised that all was not well when we did the boat drill. Clearly most of the crew hadn't a clue what to do! We were marched down many flights of stairs and crowded into a public area, hot humid and claustrophobic as we were pushed back against the wall. That was when the lady collapsed. Now we had a real emergency the emergency drill came apart, we were marched away into another part of the ship; Once the ill lady was taken away we were marched back again, hot, sweating, trying not to faint. Then we were marched up on deck and shouted at to get in line. At last it was all over - it had taken well over an hour and a half, no-one felt reassured! Then it got worse, if that's possible. Captain Margararitis introduced himself at the theatre. His pidgin English line was "This is the first time we've done this, we'll do our best - but no promises!" £8,500 down and "no promises" - what happened to "It's all about you"? We quickly learned why he said that. Our first port of call, Stanley in the Falklands, was cancelled due to bad weather. This was the place we had all come to see (including a big Argentinean contingent) the only place with King penguins, our once-in-a-lifetime ambition, peoples' Christmas gifts, anniversary 'specials' - wiped away by the first of the Cruise Directors smarmy announcements. What was 'Plan B' we wanted to know, when would we go there, on the way back? What plans were there for a revised schedule etc? Answer - there were no plans! No-one on board seemed to have the slightest intimation of the massive degree of ill-will and bad feeling generated by this cavalier attitude, some ladies simply burst into tears. The Argentineans, however, soon made it clear - you may already know about the near riot that ensued (they were intending to visit war graves) I know the small print says "Itinerary subject to change, Captain's decision final" - the Isle of Wight ferry has that disclaimer too! This is my major point of issue with Celebrity - where in the cruise description or any of the pre-cruise literature, excursions or descriptions, is there the tiniest intimation that it's hard to get into Stanley? It's absolutely no good the so-called Cruise Director blithely telling us that of the last 8 attempts to do so, 3 were failures - it's a bit late then, isn't it? Secondly, given this knowledge, what contingency plans exist to fulfil the promised itinerary? None - this is now the "No promises cruise line!" We had 4 written warnings that the road in Peninsular Valdes was bumpy and may be dusty - we got no warning at all about the hazards of actually getting to our ports of call. Celebrity must be in an unparalleled position to give us an accurate assessment of the chances of getting to Stanley in terms of % success in the past, then we could make an informed decision. Would we change the route as other ships did and go to visit some mainland port of call, to later return their delighted passengers to the Falklands? No, Infinity sets sail for the Drake Passage, 'the worst seas in the world', sailing on calm seas at a much-remarked snails pace. (Throughout the cruise all the passengers failed to understand the slow pace) So we are across the Drake Passage en route to Elephant Island and are 'promised' a three day visit to the Antarctic - we all felt that was a worthy compensation, but this is the line that doesn't make or keep promises! We got to dread that sickly voice of the Cruise Director as he demolished our holiday bit by bit. There's bad weather apparently so we're not going after all (the concept of weather forecasting seems to have eluded this crew, they're always surprised; by now most passengers felt that you really should keep this Captain in his comfort zone - probably no further south than the Mediterranean or Caribbean - he certainly doesnt' belong in the South Atlantic!) Many passengers were very interested in our route, dozens carried GPS equipment and some even had compasses and charts - so we already knew that the ship had turned 180 degrees and was now sailing North - back through the Drake Passage. This was the time when the TV page showing the ship's position was blocked, and the announcement wasn't made for another 3 hours! The Captains letter of apology (so far 0 out of 2) states that the area was "experiencing unusually bad weather... high winds... icy conditions... very unusual" but Celebrity's own description of Elephant Island says "typical weather - foggy, snowy and with a relentless "breeze" - a bit rough" We're going to Cape Horn, then Ushaia where the Argentines at last are able to abandon ship! We've been at sea for 6 days - Transatlantic is shorter! Then we're going - guess where - through the Drake Passage again (the 3rd time) to the Antarctic where we'll spend a whole six hours! Will we see Elephant Island as it's sort-of on the way - of course not! So a day later we're going back through the Drake Passage for the 4th time - this must be a record. The time that we had due to our cancelled ports of call has now been squandered completely by sailing back and forth like the Marie Celeste - what did we see - we saw the sea! In light of all this you may think this bit is trivial but it illustrates my grouse about your advertising. Another of my life's ambitions was to see Elephants seals so we booked to go to Peninsular Valdez. The excursion blurb which I read at home makes much of "mature bulls ...measuring up to 20' long and weighing over 3 tons" and of "killer whales that are often seen hunting in the area". Once we've booked, paid and are on board we read that the colony is "mostly females...males are a rare sight" The guide told us that in 13 years she had seen Orcas on 3 occasions - does that sound 'often' to you,? I think it's close to 'obtaining money under false pretences'. Our dinner at the Speciality Restaurant was outstanding, the downside was that it made a sad contrast with the generally mediocre food in the main restaurant - the menus disjointed, the food excellent in description only, unco-ordinated and not a patch on our Mercury experience of some years ago. Are they economising? Finally, came the time to leave. We were told the disembarkation times and made our plans. An hour ahead of schedule we were told we could leave; we rushed ashore - then sat in the coaches for that hour until everybody at Breakfast arrived. We were taken to the airport and your rep showed us our luggage. We thought he might help us find the check-in but he was gone. We milled around for a couple of hours until some staff came and told us what to do. I spoke with lots of people with whom we shared a table, English, Irish, Americans, Canadians, Germans, French, Belgians, Chinese, Japanese, Swedes, Norwegians, even a Russian - they all said they would NEVER sail with Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We sailed from Buenos Aires on Sunday 31st January after a chaotic embarkation in the pouring rain with not one porter to be seen and endless queues, this despite having completed our "Express Pass" We were horrified when we ... Read More
We sailed from Buenos Aires on Sunday 31st January after a chaotic embarkation in the pouring rain with not one porter to be seen and endless queues, this despite having completed our "Express Pass" We were horrified when we handed over our baggage to be put through the security screening and the attendant demanded a tip when all he was doing was picking up our bags and putting them through the machine. We reported this incident once on board and hopefully Celebrity will pass this information on to the authorities in Buenos Aires. Our first destination was to be the Falkland Islands on Wednesday 3rd February. Late in the afternoon of 2nd we were told that due to bad weather we would not be able to have our planned visit and we would be given more information later. I had been looking forward to photographing the King Penguins for nearly a year and I just could not hide my disappointment. For several minutes I cried and was inconsolable, however, eventually I appreciated that our safety was paramount and that nothing could be done about it. Later, we are told that we would now have longer in Antarctica and everyone becomes very excited once again. However, this was not meant to be and with just over 200 miles to go we had an announcement to say we have to turn back as the weather is against us once more. By this time most of us were of the opinion we are going to end up just calling at ports in South America and this is not what we had booked for. There were many, many passengers who felt so strongly about the decisions being made that a rather large, noisy crowd gathered at Guest Relations. I understand that this got a little out of hand and that further meetings took place and some passengers left the ship at the next port of call. Rumour had it that they were "asked" to leave? Each day at noon the Captain was supposed to give us an update of our position and weather condition. In fact he missed many of these and without exception ALL the announcements containing bad news were given by the Cruise Director. This did not bode well with passengers who by this time are beginning to question whether or not we would ever have got into the Falklands and should we be trying to attempt Antarctica at all. The excuse given for the Captain not making these announcements was that his English was not good enough; personally, I had no problems understanding him whenever he did choose to speak. We were now heading for Ushuaia and here we went on the coach to Tierra del Fuego National Park. We were disappointed with this trip as we saw practically no flowers, no birds and indeed very little of anything except a rabbit. Later that day we discovered that the passengers who had taken the catamaran/coach tour saw much, much more. Having left Ushuaia, we headed once again for Drakes Passage and a second attempt at Antarctica where they hoped we would have just 6 hours - a far cry from the original 2 days and even less than we been told just a few days before. We had been told our arrival in Paradise Bay would be at 06.30 however, when we got out on deck at 0600 we had clearly been there for some while. I was miffed about this and can't understand, given the circumstances; they didn't pipe an announcement through to the cabins. I am sure a few people would have objected but my guess is the vast majority would have been grateful. The six hours in Paradise Bay and Gerlache Straight were amazing. The sun shone, the sea was calm, and the sky was blue with beautiful low clouds still hanging in mid air. The whales, penguins, seals and albatross came to greet us. The icebergs were an amazing sight and I feel truly privileged to have spent time here. No wonder the early explorers called this Paradise Bay after having crossed Cape Horn and Drakes Passage. We then endured a nasty crossing of Drakes Passage for the fourth time and had to alter course in order to try and avoid strong winds (as we then experienced winds of 94mph I dread to think what we might have had on the original course) The excursion to Punto Tombo and the penguin colony from Puerto Madryn was good but very crowded. The little Magellan penguins were cute but they were not the majestic King Penguins of Antarctica that I so wanted to see. Montevideo was extremely hot and humid and I was somewhat disappointed at what I saw and would have not been upset if we hadn't gone there. With so many days at sea it gave passengers plenty of time to talk about the highs and lows of the trip. There were an awful lot of people who like me, began to wonder just how many ships DO get into the Falklands given that the ships anchor 2 miles out and the tender boats cannot be used in waves of more than 3 feet. If what I heard is true and that very few actually get in then I question why it was ever included in the itinerary. As for getting to the Antarctic Peninsular I just don't know what to think. This was Celebrity's first attempt and I have questioned whether or not the company made the right decisions. This was our second Celebrity cruise. The first over Christmas and New Year in 2007/8 was a disaster and we had mixed feelings about trying a second one. However, I am pleased to say that nearly all the things that were wrong with the first cruise were right this time round. The food and service were good, we enjoyed the production shows (the headline acts still left much to be desired) and the ship was clean. One complaint I do have is the number of venues that still allow smoking. Future passengers should be aware that suddenly staff in the Gym are enforcing a rule stating that only enclosed footwear may be worn. Nowhere in the brochure does it warn you of this and there was no notice on the outside of the Gym giving this information. However after we complained a notice was duly put on view before you enter the facility. What annoyed us most of all was that they didn't enforce this rule until we had used the Gym for 5 consecutive days. I should point out that I wasn't wearing fashion shoes but stout sensible Scholl sandals. To make matters worse a friend told us that she had witnessed people wearing no shoes at all using the Running Machines AFTER we had encountered our problem. I would really like to know just how many cruise ships actually make it to the Falklands and/or Antarctica. The brochure itinerary certainly doesn't give any indication that there could be problems, thus allowing passengers to make an informed decision before booking. I have had rumours of 5 out of every 8 and even just 50%! Refund of port fees in the Falklands - many passengers did not receive this and if you are one of them contact Celebrity and ask for. One last tip - choose an inside cabin low down in the centre because even in 30 foot seas and 94mph winds we were hardly troubled. 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 4.2
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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