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Sail Date: April 2004
Preface This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity (our previous cruise was a western Caribbean sailing on Grand Princess last September). My wife, Page, and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. We had the ... Read More
Preface This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity (our previous cruise was a western Caribbean sailing on Grand Princess last September). My wife, Page, and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. We had the pleasure of traveling with our long time friends Mark and Cheryl from Orlando who were getting a head start on celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary. Booking I called Celebrity directly and made my reservation. I had looked at Celebrity's web site for available staterooms, but I wanted to speak with a representative if for no other reason to convey that we would be celebrating an important wedding anniversary (as there was no place to enter this information in their web site - unlike with Princess). The agent was very pleasant, and I booked inside stateroom 9006 on the Sky Deck (forward, starboard). Cheryl and Mark had booked stateroom 9040 also on the Sky Deck, a Concierge Class stateroom with a veranda. I would have liked to stayed in Concierge Class too, but we've got two other cruises booked this year and I had to try to contain costs. Originally, the cruise was booked on Millennium, but due to some propulsion problems Infinity was assigned. Embarkation We arrived at Port Everglades at 11:45. There, uniformed Celebrity employees politely organized us into a queue where we waited to go through security and receive our 'sign and sail' card. The entire process was painless, and we were on the ship by 12:05. If I had to do over again, I'd wait until 13:00 to board as this is the time that your stateroom is 'officially' ready, and you will be escorted by to your room, with a glass of champagne in hand. As it was, I had to lug around my day pack and camera bag while we braved the long lines at the lunch buffet. The Ship Aesthetically, this is a beautiful ship. The blue and white paint scheme is very easy on the eyes. Even though it is about 18% smaller than Grand Princess (based on displacement) the public areas seemed comparable in size. The Infinity is powered by gas turbines, so there was noticeably less exhaust billowing from the smokestacks. Gripes include a promenade deck that doesn't go all the way around the ship. Also, we noticed in 2-3 foot seas much more roll that on Grand Princess. I don't know if this has to do with the narrower beam of the ship, but it was noticeable. Infinity is 3 years old, and she doesn't show much wear. We noticed the crew constantly polishing and cleaning the ship, and the fruits of their hard work were very much apparent. Stateroom Our inside stateroom was listed as 170 square feet. We found that there was plenty of storage space for our large suitcases. I never cease to be amazed how much storage a well engineered room can provide. Sandra, our Honduran stateroom attendant, kept our room quite clean, and filled with fresh towels. The shower had plenty of water pressure, but its temperature varied quite a bit. I was surprised that they don't have designated smoking and non-smoking rooms as the smoke from the room next door was intrusive. Cheryl and Mark's Concierge Class stateroom was quite step up with a nice covered veranda and a sofa. Ship's Officers The ship's officers were primarily Greek. You didn't get to see them often, unless you were a Captain's Club member, where there seemed to be a number of functions to meet and greet. The Cruise Director, Rich, was simply fantastic. He's worked the comedy club scene before, and he was a natural with the crowds. Public Areas We were crazy about the Thalassotherapy pool. It's basically a saltwater pool heated to about 95 degrees with recessed areas built in to recline and enjoy hot tub bubbles. After a half hour in there, you come out so refreshed, you feel like a new person. The movie theater was adequately sized, but the viewing angle for a number of seats were too far splayed out. I'd recommend arriving a few minutes early to make sure that you get a good seat. The Constellation nightclub was a good place - not only at night but also during the day. You're up on deck 11 forward with a commanding view. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to see Alaska from this vantage point. The Casio really didn't do anything for us. The pay tables on the video poker machines were abysmal. I didn't play any of the table games as the smoke was just too disagreeable. Infinity had huge a shopping area, at least twice as large as Grand Princess. Their prices on duty free liquor was also competitive with what we saw in our ports of call. Toward the end of our cruise, there were some very good deals on hats and t-shirts. The Library was a very cozy room on decks 8 and 9 that was utilized sparingly by other passengers. If you wanted to get away from it all, this was the place to be. The Fitness Center had a variety of Nautilus equipment and treadmills. It was in a larger space than on Grand Princess, and the staff was friendly and helpful. Children under 18 are prohibited from using the equipment. Dining Our evening meal was served in the Trellis Restaurant. Our table wasn't in the best of locations (apart from the main part of the dining room), but on the plus side things were quieter than the might otherwise have been. Our waiter, Made, and his assistant, Gusti, were from Bali. We all had trouble understanding Made's accent. The food was decent, but it didn't surpass my expectations. We'd heard that Celebrity is a 'foodie' line, but what we had was certainly no better than what we had on Princess. If fact, we much preferred Princess' Personal Choice dining, where you can go to dinner when you are hungry, rather than a fixed time. On the plus side, however, in the traditional seating you get to know you tablemates and your waiter. We dined on our anniversary in the SS United States. The service charge had recently been increased to $30/person. The setting was pleasant enough, but it wasn't as nice as the photos I've seen of the Olympic on the Millennium. The meal was a 4 course affair with a salad/appetizer, entrEe, cheese course, and desert. I had the steak Diane, and highly recommend it. I am not, however, a big cheese eater and the cheese course left me a bit cold. Actually, it left me more than a little bit nauseated as when they wheeled the cheese tray by me and opened the Lucite lid, the smelly cheeses started to make me feel sick - very sick. It was like placing kryptonite next to Superman. The Breezes Pool Grill served tasty hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza, though their hours were limited from 12:00 - 18:00. The Aquaspa Cafe on deck 10 served more health conscious foods. I don't think that most passengers knew about it as it was rarely crowded. It's definitely worth checking out. Entertainment This was an unexpected bright spot. The troupe of 5 singers in the production shows were excellent. The shows tended to stick with hit songs, and that worked out fine. In all, there were 4 production shows. Also on the cruise was Garin, a concert pianist / magician. His second show was a wonderful presentation of some of Chopin's works. The comedian, Steve, used to be a warm-up act for the Beach Boys. He was decent, but had a hilarious set with hand shadow puppets. The poolside band, Legacy, was excellent. I take my hat off to them as they always seemed to be playing. They did the most beautiful version of Blue Bayou that I've ever heard (apologies to Linda Rondstadt). Activities I guess that the activities are pretty much the same regardless of the cruise line, but we are so new to cruising that the novelty hasn't worn off. We really enjoyed the fruit and vegetable carving demonstration by the pool. Some of the poolside games were quite fun too. They had a fun version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Interestingly, the week before Regis Philbin was on the cruise. Fellow Passengers All ages were represented, but I'd say the majority of passengers were in their 40's and 50's. There weren't too many children as our voyage happened after spring break. Most of the passengers were Americans, yet clearly many nationalities (European and South American) were represented. The demographic represented on this cruise was very much what we saw on Grand Princess. Ports of Call / Shore Excursions Our itinerary was as follows: Day 1 - Sea Day Day 2 - Casa de Campo Day 3 - San Juan Day 4 - St. Thomas Day 5 - Sea Day Day 6 - Nassau Day 7 - Ft. Lauderdale Casa de Campo was a big letdown, and I had low expectations to begin with. We didn't book any shore excursions as the day we were in town was our 20th anniversary, and we would be dining at the SS United States that evening. We took Celebrity's complimentary shuttle service to the Altos de Chavon and the Marina. Altos de Chavon is a recreation of a Mediterranean artist's village. It is situated in a pretty location, but it lacked a quality of authenticity. We'd heard a story about the Giacosa restaurant being great place to get a wood fired pizza, but it turned out to be an overpriced disappointment that didn't serve pizza. Word to the wise - Giacosa will rip you off with their 'exchange rate', so be sure to use a credit card to prevent being gouged. After Altos de Chavon, we shuttled to the Marina. This was OK (but not spectacular) and most of the shops were closed. I don't know if we were there during siesta or what. On the shuttle back to the ship the sky opened up, and we had to wait about 20 minutes before making a dash back to the boat. In retrospect, a day at the beach on a cruise line's private island like Coco Cay or Princess Cay would have been infinitely more fun that Casa de Campo. In the future, I will definitely not book any cruise that has Casa de Campo as a port of call. San Juan was better than I expected. Infinity was the only ship in port that day. Before we took our shore excursion, we walked some around Old San Juan. There was a notable police presence (good), and it was easy to get around. We booked an afternoon excursion for a tour of the Bacardi Rum Distillery and Old San Juan. The grounds at Bacardi are very well maintained and the site had the aura of a park. The tour itself took about 45 minutes, where afterward you could enjoy a selection of rum beverages (the Cuba Libre was my favorite). Also, at the gift shop you could buy 'reserve' rums that aren't available at other places. The Bacardi stop left a good taste in my mouth - literally! For the Old San Juan part of the excursion, we basically stopped at the Fort. We only had 30 minutes, and I could have explored for 3 more hours. Very interesting, and a lot to see, but I'm a military history buff. Actually, the ship is an easy walk from the Fort, and if we had to do it again, I would go directly from the ship to the Fort. Our tablemates at dinner, Ruthie and Steve from Palm Beach, took the rainforest excursion and both seemed to have a wonderful time. The said the scenery was breathtaking. St. Thomas was beautiful. There were 2 other ships in port that day - Sun Princess and Victory. We'd book a morning catamaran snorkel to Buck Island. Our catamaran was the King Kamehameha. The catamaran itself wasn't as nice as 'Manta' what we were on last year in Cozumel, but the crew was pleasant enough. Unlike the drift snorkel in Cozumel, the Buck Island snorkel was in a protected cove. That meant that you could linger over something of interest. Mark and Cheryl, both certified divers, said that the reef was pretty dead. At least it wasn't extinct as I did see several interesting fish and Page saw a sea turtle. I was relieved to get out of the water without running into any of the myriad of fire coral or sea urchins I saw. After the snorkel we had a quick lunch back on the ship and headed into town (cab fare of $3/person each way) for some shopping in Charlotte Amalie. THIS is the place to buy jewelry. There were a lot of businesses competing for your business, and the duty free allowance from St. Thomas is 50% higher that other ports in the Caribbean. I'm still kicking myself for not buying that Rado watch, but this gives me a good reason to return. Nassau was also beautiful. There were 3 other ships in port that day - Century, Fascination, and Splendor of the Seas. We were only in port for 6 hours, so we had to rush to see things. We took the cab ride ($4/person each way) to Atlantis on Paradise Island and checked out the resort. The setting and the grounds were simply gorgeous. We paid the pricey $29/person to see "The Dig", but we didn't feel ripped-off as it was remarkable. Regrettably, the pools were off-limits to non-guests. Be forewarned that at Atlantis, they don't have any water fountains. So either bring your own water or be prepared to buy your water at the resort. The casino in Atlantis is very similar to the mega resorts in Las Vegas. It had a similar feel to Mandalay Bay. We were there on Saturday, and most of the table games had minimum bets of $15. I can't wait to get back to Nassau. Debarkation Not really a bright spot. The main problem is that we were given times to report to the Celebrity Theater, and as we were trying to enter the theater, other groups were trying to leave the theater. There isn't a lot of loitering space, so things choked up. A better system was like that used on Grand Princess where guests waited in different parts of the ship until it was there time to debark. The debarkation process wasn't a disaster, but it wouldn't be too hard to improve. While collecting our baggage, we did see a drug sniffing dog identify a tote bag that the Customs officer quickly collected. Summary I guess that in retrospect, our expectations were so sky high that we couldn't help but be disappointed in some areas. Most of the cruise was great, and having Mark and Cheryl with us was the very best thing that could have happened. For the most part, the weather cooperated, and we got to see and do interesting things. BUT - there was no recognition of our anniversary other than at the SS United States where Mark and Cheryl had mentioned it when making the reservation. Page went to Guest Relations to complain, and their response wasn't one of "we've made an oversight, let us make it right", but one of "so what". You should consider this when you contemplate who you want to sail with. michael_e_maddox@mac.com April 2004 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This sailing was the repositioning cruise from South America to Florida and was the last sailing before the Infinity was put into drydock for "propulsion" problems. We had originally booked this cruise for two reasons. First we ... Read More
This sailing was the repositioning cruise from South America to Florida and was the last sailing before the Infinity was put into drydock for "propulsion" problems. We had originally booked this cruise for two reasons. First we had done the trip around Cape Horn two years ago so wanted to "finish" off SA. Second, life had been pretty hectic so we thought this would be a good cruise since there weren't a lot of ports. The ports were all important since they were in countries we hadn't been to before. So we were just a little disappointed that Celebrity chose to drop one of four ports and that was Manta, Ecuador. This was the one port that we would have liked to have seen and when combined with another unfortunate experience meant we were on board for 7 straight days. Even for experienced cruisers this is a long time to be "captive" on a ship. Even with all the activities that the ship's staff managed to come up with, we found it was just a little boring and a tad repetitive after 4 or 5 days!! As for the rest of the cruise and the ship - we found the embarkation and disembarkation process to be the best that we had ever experienced. We have sailed before on Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and RCCL but Celebrity beat all of them hands down. From the time we arrived at the dock in Valparaiso till we were eating lunch in the Oceanview Cafe was about 20 minutes. And their disembarkation without announcements is a joy!! We had a balcony cabin (I know they prefer to call them staterooms) that was more than adequate. The bed was comfortable, there was lots of storage space, and the bathroom was larger than any other we had encountered on a ship. We enjoyed having our breakfast delivered to the stateroom and sitting outside in the mornings. The food was well above average. There was quite a selection of places and types of food available all day and well into the night. We only went to the dining room for dinner (early sitting) since there was so much choice for all the other meals. Our waiter and asst waiter were very good. After the first evening, they would greet us by name and knew what we preferred to drink which is always nice. There was only one evening that we were not impressed with the choices on the dinner menu but then again it can't always be perfect. We enjoyed Celebrity's afternoon ritual of "sorbet on parade" and the very nice afternoon tea. The entertainment on board was what can be expected of most cruise ships. There was the required production shows and some individual entertainers that were O.K. Really depends on what you expect and your personal tastes whether the evening shows met expectations. There was one group that we really enjoyed. It was an a cappella group called Lighthouse. They would pop up in one bar or another over the 14 days and they were very entertaining at least to us because they sang a lot of songs from the 50's and 60's. There was the required bingo (which we never attended), art auctions that have become a staple of the cruise ship industry, and some lectures, etc. There is a very nice cinema which screened fairly new release movies. The casino was small but adequate and was less smoky than some others we have encountered. As to the ports of call - if you cruise to see as many places as you can in one cruise don't do this one. Arica, Chile is the first port of call. It is a small town with not a lot of happening. It is an oasis in the middle of a desert. The shore excursions are almost non- existent because there is nowhere to go except out into the desert. There is very little shopping besides the little market in a park across from the terminal. Then Lima, Peru which we did not get to see but several people reported that it did not meet their expectations. Callao where the ship docks is not very safe. Evidently three women who had got a cab to take them downtown Lima had a purse snatching incident when they stopped at a light just outside the terminal. So if you want to see Lima, take one of the shore excursions or arrange to be met. The only other stop we made was in Aruba and what can you say about a Caribbean island that many cruise ships visit every day. Luckily there was only 2 ships in the day we were there. If you like the Caribbean (white sand, warm water, almost guaranteed sun, and lots of jewelry shopping) you will like Aruba. Overall, we enjoyed our first cruise with Celebrity on the Infinity and will probably sail with them again given the right itinerary at the right price. Read Less
Celebrity Infinity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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