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Let me first say that we could'nt have picked a better week weather-wise for our cruise. Mostly sunny and 85 to 90 everyday with very calm seas. We left Boston the Thursday before our cruise to go to the boat show in Ft. Lauderdale. ... Read More
Let me first say that we could'nt have picked a better week weather-wise for our cruise. Mostly sunny and 85 to 90 everyday with very calm seas. We left Boston the Thursday before our cruise to go to the boat show in Ft. Lauderdale. Limo showed up @ 3:30 a.m. Dropped at Logan at 4:00 a.m. for our 6:00 a.m. flight. Long line to check in for there were two other flights leaving at the same time. It took 1-1/2 hours from curb to plane. Flight left 15 min. late and arrived on time in Miami. Got the rental and off to the show we went. Unbelievable boats and yachts at this show. It took all of the two days to see every one and we only actually boarded 7-8. Met quite a few friends from home here and got together for dinner @ Chucks Steak House, then off to the top of the Hyatt 66 for drinks and dancing. Beautiful view from their outdoor balcony! There is also a great little place called the Oasis Cafe on the beach with a great Bartender. Great place for afternoon drinks. They have these tables that are actually swings with green canopies. Check it out next time your there. Saturday checked out of the Renaissance and dropped the rental at FLL. Got in line at check in and within 10 min. there was a huge line behind me. Took about half hour to get through to the gate. Again the flight was uneventful and landed early. Then off to get the luggage. First three bags down the belt are ours. Only problem was we had checked four @ FLL. Went and filed the appropriate paperwork and got a cab to the ship. Got to the ship around 4:00 p.m. Only about 20 people ahead of us at the curbside security. Once inside we walked right up to the agents window, got our keys and boarded the ship. Took about 15 min. from curb to cabin. We had cat 2B 7180 Starboard-side. Small cabin compared to the Enchantment Cat D we sailed last year. Near the stern with a balcony the same size as the Cat 1 next door. Next two cabins forward from us were two families traveling with two 6-8 year olds in each cabin. They were being yelled at by their parents and running back and forth between cabins. It got so we couldn't sit on our own balcony because of the parents on their balconies loudly talking back and forth about their day sitting drinking with the locals in St. Croix. A call to guest relations got me nowhere. A second call got them offering to send up security, which I told them I didn't want to put a damper on anyone else's vacation, I just wanted to be moved away to a quieter cabin. The hotel manager was hosting a function at the time and I would be hearing back as soon as she was available. Well, before dinner I went to the guest relations desk and they said that there was another cabin, 8165 cat 1B on the opposite side of the ship available. Went and met the cabin steward, Albino, and checked it out. A little larger than the 2B and would be the smallest cabin I would get in the future. So after dinner (Formal) we went and packed up all our clothes and moved @ 9:30 p.m. Well, aren't we having fun so far. Oh and still no sign of the missing luggage. In St. Croix we hired a taxi to take us to the hotel Cambrolo (sp?). Beautiful hotel with a nice cafe overlooking the beach. Swam and watched a pelican fish for lunch. On the way back to the ship had the driver stop at K-mart so we could replace the toiletries that were in the missing bag. Next stop St. Lucia. I had been checking out this island to vacation on so I knew I wanted to go to the Ladera resort in Soufries. Hired a taxi for $90.00 round trip and went to Dasheens @ Ladera Resort for lunch. The restaurant sits 1000 ft above the sea right between the Pitons. Wonderful lunch. Afterwards we asked to see one of the rooms. The resort has about 12 villas along a ridge between the Pitons. They are all open facing the sea and all have their own wading pools. You must check this place out. Lets see, bye bye St. Lucia, hello Barbados. Having been here before we decided to take a taxi up the west coast to the beach for some sun. Nice sand and surf. I got a little too much sun so after lunch,at a beachfront cafe, The Wife continued on her way to becoming the bronze goddess while I had a few Banks at the bar. Went back to the ship around 3:00. Well let me take some time to talk about dinner and our table mates. We have always been seated at a table for 8 or 10 on previous cruises. This suits us fine, the more the merrier. This time we are seated at a table for six. On the first night one couple ate at the S.S. United States. So it was just us and a couple from the Philippines. A beautiful couple who had been married 47 years but you wouldn't even think they were 47 years old. The food was very good, not great, but very good. The next night we met our other tablemates. They were newlyweds. A very nice couple and good conversation ensued. The dinner this night was Excellent. Duck L'orange and all the goodies. Missed dinner altogether Tuesday. Was wiped out from the sun on Barbados. Wednesday was a day at sea. I stayed out of the sun while the goddess continued bronzing. We did go to the aqua spa pool. Very nice and relaxing. Then off to the casino. I won some and lost some and won some again. All in all ended up losing a little but not much. Love Caribbean Stud Poker. Well after not hearing about my missing bag for 3 days (the airline is supposed to call every 24 hrs. with an update) I used the satellite phone to call them. I was put on hold and when the operator @ American returned I told her not to do that again because I was on a ship and it was $10.00 a minute and that I would be sending them the bill because they had not called as they said they would. Sorry I'm O.K. now. She told me that they had found my bag and that it would meet me in Antigua. In Antigua we did the power Catamaran snorkeling excursion. A great ride and good snorkeling with lots of colorful fish. Rum punch for the return ride. Tonight's dinner again good not great. The newlyweds were invited to the captains table. They don't even know why. Let me say that our waiter and assistant were very good. The head waiter Eduardo, very professional, and the assistant, Garcia very entertaining. Our cabin steward, Albino (Al-been-o) was very proficient as well. We made a mess of the place with room service every morning, and the cabin was spotless whenever we returned to it. St. Thomas we took the gondolas across the street from the pier up the hill. What a terrific view. Afterwards took a taxi into town. What a busy place. This was by far the busiest port we had been in. In all our other ports we were the only ship that day. Here the Dawn Princess was already in port when we arrived. Still plenty of taxis around. We were looking for jewelry for the goddess but nothing really jumped out at us and she was getting tired and overwhelmed by all the people (she doesn't like crowds). I love'em. Back to the ship for a late lunch and to sit by the pool. Let me say that this ship swallowed up all the people on it. It has to be one of the prettiest ships on the seas today. Inside and out. You never saw a crowd of people, except at the pool on our sea day. One complaint I have is if you're going to have a Martini Bar you should have Queen Olives for them, not those tiny little pea size ones they had. The olives in the salads were bigger! Just a pet peeve since I drink Vodka Martinis. I know I'm long winded here, Sorry. Last night of the cruise we had dinner at The S.S.United States. If the dinners in the Trellis restaurant were like this Celebrity would be my cruise line for life. Had a wonderful bottle of Moet & Chandon Nectar with our meal. I had the goat cheese souffle and the goddess had the Caesar salad made tableside. It got better with every bite. We both had the Rack of Lamb which was out of this world. Let me say that we both had lamb in the Trellis earlier in the week but it was dog food compared to this. Then the cheeses and then the chocolate soufflE for desert. Unbelievable dinner, and a great way to end the cruise. Things I haven't mentioned. Lunch buffet was good, tea tidbits also good. Wish they had umbrellas at the tables on the Oceanview Cafe, always too sunny to sit out there. Pizza was O.K. The entertainment that we saw was outstanding. The singers and dancers could easily step onto any Broadway stage and hold their own. The ventriloquist was very good also. Let me say in closing (finally) I love this ship and had a great time even with the little setbacks we encountered. I also want to mention Tina at Guest Relations did a fantastic job for me and if you are on this cruise in the future tell her thank you again for all she helped us with. I will sail Celebrity again as I looked into the Panama Canal sailing while on board. It's expensive especially since I want to take the kids. (Don't worry they are both 13 and very well behaved) Happy Cruising, Scott lullman1@aol.comNovember 2001 Read Less
We sailed on a one-week cruise on the Infinity to the Southern Caribbean on November 3, 2001. Although there were a few minor annoyances, overall the vacation was absolutely fabulous. This review is aimed for future Infinity cruisers - ... Read More
We sailed on a one-week cruise on the Infinity to the Southern Caribbean on November 3, 2001. Although there were a few minor annoyances, overall the vacation was absolutely fabulous. This review is aimed for future Infinity cruisers - heavy on specific tips, light on comparisons to other ships. Let me describe us first, so you understand the context of some of the choices we made. My husband (Chuck) and I (Cher) are in our mid-fifties and have been married for four years (so we still count every vacation as a honeymoon). Chuck sells Spectrometers (instruments that do chemical analysis) and I retired from my job as a Project Manager in September. Although we have cruised three times before, on Carnival and NCL, we had no plans to take another cruise for a while. Six weeks before the cruise, a co-worker of Chuck's was passing through Kansas City (our hometown), and mentioned that he (Rick) and his wife (Hwei Ping) were going on a cruise - on the exact ship and itinerary that I had already decided would, someday, be our next cruise. We decided to join them. (In a weak moment, Chuck said "That might be nice." He gave me an opening and I "charged" right through by the end of the week.) We got a great deal on the cruise. We booked a Category 7 Guarantee (Outside Cabinet on the lowest Deck) for about $600 pp. We also booked our airfare and a 2-night pre-cruise package through the cruise line. When we got our tickets from our travel agent, we were thrilled: our flights were very convenient and, most importantly, we had been upgraded to a Category 2B - a balcony! (It would have cost us $650 pp more if we had booked a 2C Guarantee.) I personally believe that booking a guarantee rather than a specific cabin made it easier for them to give us an upgrade. Pre-cruise San Juan When we arrived in San Juan on Thursday afternoon, we never found anyone at the baggage claim area with a "Celebrity Cruises" sign for our transfer to the hotel. We ended up waiting over an hour for the bus that never showed up even after three calls. We finally ended up just taking a cab to the hotel ... not a very promising start. On our last phone call - to the 800 number - we were told that we should have paged Celebrity from the baggage claim area. This was not in the instructions on the travel voucher so I don't know how we were supposed to know that. We stayed two nights at the El Convento Hotel in Old San Juan. This hotel was an excellent choice - we cannot recommend it enough! Originally a convent, it is over 350 years old and has a great location right across from the Cathedral. It was extensively restored in 1997 at a cost that averaged about $275,000 per room. The five-story building surrounds a beautiful interior courtyard. Restaurants, bars, and shops are on the first two floors. The 58 rooms are on the third through fifth floors. From the concierge/front-desk, you walk along a balcony overlooking the courtyard to your room. Our room was small but beautifully furnished: a high comfortable bed with lovely linens and a huge carved headboard; an antique armoire which hid the TV, VCR, and stereo; a desk with a modem connection; a small table with two chairs; and a very comfortable easy chair with good lighting for reading. The bathroom was small but fully equipped with a hair dryer, second phone, thick towels and very nice toiletries.. The closet, though small, had a mini-frig (but no mini-bar), a safe, and an iron and ironing board. The old-fashioned louvered and balconied window looked down on an alley but even that view was charming - Old San Juan architecture across and walled gardens below. The staff at the hotel was excellent - always helpful and professional. Each evening they served complimentary wine and cheese on a charming third-floor (guests-only) terrace with comfortable wrought iron tables and chairs and flowering vines cascading down the walls. This was a great way to meet other guests who were also going to be on the Infinity. Two flights up from the terrace was a small pool and hot tub with a great view and even more flowers. There was an honor bar available by the terrace the rest of the evening and a very nice continental breakfast in the morning. We ate two dinners and a lunch at El Picoteo, the tapas bar on the second floor of El Convento. The food was very good, and the variety excellent. The beef tips and the chicken pie were especially good and the tapas portion was plenty for a full meal. The scallops were excellent on Thursday night but overcooked on Friday night so if they're not great, send them back. We had excellent service except for Friday night when the waitress's elevator did not make it to the top floor. On Thursday night, while having dinner, we met some other passengers who would be on the Infinity - Aron (whose Aunt Pauline would have a Penthouse Suite) and "Chuck's Harem," five beautiful, intelligent, funny women, sans husbands, with whom we ate dinner on Friday night. If you have time in San Juan, be sure to walk around Old San Juan. The area is relatively small and the architecture is charming and streets very clean. There are lots of shops and in every shop they were more than willing to make a deal. The prices in San Juan were consistent with the rest of the islands, so if you see something you like, don't bother waiting to check prices on another island after you sail. A tour of the fort, El Morro, will only take about an hour but should not be missed. It was just a couple blocks uphill from El Convento. There are also two free trolleys that travel through Old San Juan with stops at the best sights. Although we did not do it ourselves, we met several people who took a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory and they thought it was great. Although you can take an organized excursion from a tour company, it is faster and cheaper to do it on your own. The key is to take the ferry across the bay and take a taxi from there to the factory. The tours (or a taxi from Old San Juan) drive you around the bay to the factory, which is the long (and expensive) way around. At the port area (on the southern side of Old San Juan), just ask "Donde es el bote de paso a la fábrica de Bacardi? {Where is the ferry to the Bacardi factory}?" Our friends Rick and Hwei Ping stayed three nights at the Wyndham Old San Juan, right across from the pier and were very pleased with their choice. They said that their rooms were fine and that there was a very nice casino. Unfortunately, they couldn't find a lot of restaurants open nearby, which was their only complaint. We were very happy that we had decided to do the pre-cruise. By the time we were ready to leave for the ship, the vacation was already a success. We were already relaxed and had made some wonderful new friends. I had packed a separate small suitcase just for San Juan, so getting ready to check out was easy ... although it was hard to leave such a lovely hotel. The Infinity would have a tough act to follow. Embarkation Again, we had troubles with our transfer. Although the travel voucher said that we would be picked up at 1:00, when we called (after waiting 20 minutes) we were told that it was really not scheduled until 2:00 but that they would have someone there at 1:30. We were surprised that Celebrity uses a local company that is so disorganized. But all was forgiven when we got our first sight of the Infinity - breathtaking. Carnival's Holiday was at the next dock and it was just dwarfed by our magnificent ship. Princess' Ocean Princess was nearby and, although lovely, it also was clearly an also-ran. The process at the pier was excellent. Embarkation actually started at 12:30 and we arrived at the pier a few minutes after 2:00. Until we actually got on board, we never had to wait in line for more than 5 minutes for anything (metal-detector, sign-in, pictures). If you're going to want pictures, they have a $ 99 package that's a good deal that includes the embarkation photo. So, if you think that you're going to get the package, ask the photographer to take more than one picture so you have a choice. At the top of the escalator is a booth giving out free samples from the duty-free liquor shop. Have a taste of the "Tropico." This is a mix of rum and fruit juices that I thought was very good and not too strong. No matter what it says in the cruise documents, passengers were openly bringing liquor and soda on board with absolutely no problem. (We saw guys bringing cases of beer onboard.) The duty-free shop had bottles of Tropico for about $8 (compared to about $5 for a single Mai Tai on the ship). They also had six-packs of soda for a reasonable price (compared to $1.75 for a can of soda on the ship). If you want to drink in your cabin, the duty-free shop is the place to go. Also, if you bring your own wine to dinner, they will serve it to you for a $6 corkage fee - most wines onboard started at $30 a bottle. We did have to wait in line for almost a half-hour to get through the metal detector on the ship because they were taking digital ID pictures that were matched to your boarding pass. So, if you're going to shop at the duty-free shop, do it before you get on board so that you don't have to stand in line twice. Be patient because this will be the longest wait you'll have until Friday morning. Saturday - On Board at Last Once you have your ID picture taken, a steward will escort you to your cabin. Since your luggage won't be there yet, it's a great time to explore the ship. There should be a copy of the Celebrity Newsletter on your bed to let you know what's going on. If you get onboard before 4:00, be sure to check out the buffet at the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 10. This will definitely keep you full until dinner. Hopefully, you packed your swim suits in your carry-on bags because the hot tubs and Thallasotherapy Pool are open and waiting for you. They're also giving tours of the Fitness Equipment. If you're going to get any Spa treatments, this is a great time to make the appointments. From the time we got on board, it took about two hours for our luggage to appear outside our door. I'm going to describe our 2B cabin in excruciating detail because you still have time to decide what to pack. I think the cabins in lower categories are the same size and layout. Above the TV is a large cabinet to store your purchases from the duty-free shop. Below the TV is a mini-bar with the normal overpriced stuff but it does have enough space to store a few cans/bottles of your own. To the right of the TV is a cabinet about two feet wide with the safe, a shelf with life jackets (to be stored under your bed after the life boat drill) and six small drawers (about six inches deep each). To the right of that is the closet which is about four feet wide. The shelf on top has two extra pillows, an extra blanket, and more life jackets. The top rod of the closet has 21 wooden hangers, 7 of which have clamps for skirts. There are rods at the back of the closet that fold out to make a lower second rod. I really regret that I left my hanging shoe bag at home (about $8 at K-Mart with pouches hanging down from a single hook). It would have been much easier to find shoes and small items if they were organized rather than piled up on the closet floor. There is a rack on the back of the closet. The bathroom is small but had plenty of storage space. There are two corner shelves for toiletries, a large counter next to the sink, a large two-shelf cabinet under the sink, and several hooks on the back of the door. There is also a good hair dryer but there are no outlets in the bathroom for electric rollers and/or curling irons. On the bed were two very thick beach towels to use on shore excursions. The two nightstands each have two nice deep drawers. Unless your suitcases are extra-deep, they can be stored (along with all those life jackets) under the beds. The wall opposite the bed was mirrored floor-to-ceiling in order to create the illusion of more space. The desktop is very small: with a laptop and electric curlers there was only six inches of top left over. There are small shelves for additional storage under the desk. We could only find two (three-prong at least) outlets next to the desk. The best thing that we remembered to pack was a one-to-three extension cord. Besides the newsletter, there will be two other books to check out in your cabin. One describes the Infinity in detail. The other holds stationary, postcards, and a deck plan. Empty this book out immediately because when you remember to pack the materials on Friday night it will have disappeared along with your beach towels. There was one channel on the TV that played (and replayed) detailed descriptions of the next day's shore excursions. On another channel, there were descriptions of the ports, including shopping. We found our table assignment on a card on the desk. We were at table # 436 which was on the main floor just beyond the glass table at the foot of the stairs. This was an excellent location but surprisingly, although it was a table for eight, it ended up that only four people were sitting there. I would suggest that after you get your table number, check with the Maitre D' to see where it is located. If it's not in the center part of the main floor, ask if there are any seats available at better-located tables. The Maitre D' and the all-important seating charts will be in the Rendezvous Lounge before dinner the first night at a table aft (towards the back) on the port side (left as you're facing the front of the ship). MBR Read Less
Infinity is absolutely beautiful. We were booked for a category 7 guarantee and got bumped up to the sky deck with a veranda. Now I HAVE to have a veranda for any future cruises. I swear that upgrades from the cruises are like drug dealers ... Read More
Infinity is absolutely beautiful. We were booked for a category 7 guarantee and got bumped up to the sky deck with a veranda. Now I HAVE to have a veranda for any future cruises. I swear that upgrades from the cruises are like drug dealers giving school kids free drugs . . .it hooks you and they know it and that is why they do it. But that and so many other things made my cruise experience so special. The food was really excellent (good gosh I have to diet) and the service was perfect. I thought that even for a ship that has been sailing for some time . . .the service was amazing and very polite and helpful. My headwaiter Miguel and assistant waiter Victor were just the sweetest things in the world. The three other couples at our table for dinner were just so wonderful and made for a meal to look forward to every night. And my tablemates were not the only people I met that I really plan on keeping in touch with. I was worried when I first boarded the ship about how old the average passenger seemed to be as my boyfriend and me are 34 and 32 respectively. But our minority status as young people almost made it easier to meet other young people. We also met some really exciting and fun and interesting people that were older than us too . . . so age is definitely not the most important factor. One night all four couples from our dinner table (405 Late seating) went to the SS United States . . .the special dining room. I THINK we paid $25 extra per person, but it was so worth it. The service was PERFECTION lead up by who must be one of the best looking waiters on the high seas . . .Oswald of India. His smile would melt you and I think my boyfriend got a kick out of the small crush I acquired for him over the 14 days. Our table was next to the captain's table and Oswald would leave the SS United States on formal nights and serve the captain and his guests. Oswald was beautiful and elegant and did I mention that SMILE? Back to the SS United States. Many of the dishes were prepared tableside including the Caesar salad and entrees Steak Diane and Shrimp Scampi. We had eight people with our party and when food was served or cleared it was all done in unison, utilizing four waiters. There was another wonderful waiter there from Australia . . but I just can't remember his name. I would recommend either the Caesar salad or goat cheese soufflE as the soup/salad/app course. I had the rack of lamb in philo dough, but the Steak Diane and Shrimp Scampi looked and smelled great too. You may only select ONE soup/salad/app and after all those full course meals in the dining room I was worried I would want more, but the portions are bigger than the main dining room. The only problem was that so many things sounded excellent it was hard to choose one. For lunch there were several options to consider. You could go to the formal dining room and have a sit down meal which I only did on the last at sea day since it was too cold to be by the pool. They really want you in more than a cover-up in the formal dining room so on other days it was not convenient for me to do the formal lunch. Or you could go to the Ocean Grill and do the buffet, usually with a pasta stand almost to the extreme aft of the ship. I did this most of the time and the selections were varied and there was always at least one thing that really interested me . . .and usually more than that. They also did hot dogs and hamburgers and desserts at the grill by the pool. I did this option twice and really liked this option because I could be dripping wet from the pool and still enjoy my lunch without having to clean up and dry off. The French fries there are REALLY good -- so good that you barely need catsup and just the smell of them as you pass by was an evil temptation. In the thallosotherapy pool area they did a more healthy and light cafeteria-style lunch. I saw cute Oswald working there a few afternoons. ;-) For breakfast if I was up in time (late seating was at 8:45AM) and it was an "at sea" day, I liked to go to the formal dining room. They allowed shorts and t-shirts in the dining room for breakfast, which was nice. Two sinful and delicious choices were the eggs benedict with the poached eggs always perfectly cooked for that nice ooze when you broke into them. Also they served fresh bananas in heavy cream . . .talk about sinful. The breakfast buffet option in the Ocean Grill was also a good option if you wanted to sleep a little later. They served hot breakfast until 10AM. This was also a good quick option for the port days. Besides the usual scrambled eggs and hash browns and French toast (very delicious, I might add, with real French bread not the usual Wonder bread dunked in eggs), which is already prepared, and they have eggs made to order towards the very back of the Ocean Grill. The man who does the omelet's and your eggs over easy does a great job and I think maybe people did not know about this option because I never really had to wait more than five minutes to get my over easy eggs. For those people that like smoked salmon, the smoked salmon that they had for breakfast several mornings was of quite good quality. I live in NYC and get my smoked salmon from the very best places including Zabars and while the quality was not quite that high it was very good compared to what you would usually get on a buffet line . . .usually you get salmon that is a nasty light pinkish color with tough discolored spots and it either tasteless or too salty. On the Infinity I was loading up my bagel (not a NY bagel but good enough) with cream cheese and onions and capers and tomato and nice bright orange pink smoked salmon. YUM!!!! The pizza served at the poolside grill was really good. Usually they had pepperoni, mixed vegetable and plain. I think they did pizza service everyday from 3PM to 7PM and then again had late hours, but I never had it then (I had late seating dinner) so not sure of hours. They also had homemade ice cream served at same time as the buffet lunch. I had a cinnamon ice cream one day and it was excellent and the ice cream in the dining room was always delicious. The pistachio was really excellent. They had soft serve ice cream at times that I believe coincided with the pizza bar. I never had the soft serve ice cream . . .as if I needed to be eating more! The only other food thing they had that I did not mention was the tea from 4-5. There were lots of interesting little finger sandwiches and desserts. Many of them looked better than they tasted, but just keep tasting and you will find something you like. I don't think the non-American staffs always have a firm grasp on the kinds of sandwiches Americans like. And then of course there are the buffets. I went to view and photograph the Grand buffet on the last formal night. It LOOKED great. I could not eat any of it however as again I had late seating dinner and could not have handled it. But they did have buffets every night. I am sure they were good, but I could usually not stay awake that late as a full belly and rocking of the ship was the strongest sleeping pill in the world. And for the lobster lover! They did lobster on the final formal night. And it was really good and meaty. All the steaks were VERY good quality. Again, I live in NYC and have eaten at some of the best steak houses in the country and while maybe not exactly the quality of Morton's or Ruth's Chris, it was pretty close -- with the DELICIOUS bEarnaise sauce. If you eat red meat DO NOT miss the filet mignon. It is big and thick and cooked to perfection and they will re-do it if not to your expectation. Prime rib was also amazing and as a matter of fact on the last formal night I created my own surf and turf by ordering the lobster AND the prime rib. The white fish I tasted seemed a bit dry so I was not rushing to order that. Tried the salmon one night and that was good. The shrimp, chicken, lamb and duckling entrees were all excellent. Salads: Definitely try the special Celebrity salad dressing. YUMMY. Appetizers: Go for the escargots and dip that delicious bread. MMMMM! Stay away from the crab cakes or order another appetizer, they tasted more like potato cakes than crab cakes. Soups: All the consommEs were top notch. Desserts: Don't miss the Pistachio Crème Brule if they offer it. That was really special. I never did room service so cannot say what that was like. But they seemed to have some decent options that you could choose 24 hours a day. There were plenty of hot tubs and pools and I spent lots of time in them. Another great thing is that there is a Thallosotherapy pool with two hot tubs in a covered area that could definitely still be used on any cooler or inclement days. I also felt they had more liberal pool hours than the only other ship I was on (Voyager of the Seas) and really appreciated that. All pools and hot tubs were open 7AM to 8PM. Signs only said until 6PM, but the Infinity daily always listed hours until 8PM. Since I had late seating it was nice for the pool area to clear out and soak in the hot tub until I was ready for dinner. There were always lots of activities on board although for me the biggest attractions during "at sea" days are the pools and hot tubs. There are four hot tubs in the open air that will hold up to six people and then one longer deeper narrow pool for laps and one other more squarish shallow "float and bob" pool. In the covered and climate controlled atrium area there are two more six persons hot tubs and the thallosotherapy pool that has several high pressured jets and water spouts as well as a place to lay on these "racks" while you were massaged with a high pressure bubbling action. The thallosotherapy pool is free of charge and very nice and usually kept warmer than the outside pools, but cooler than the hot tubs. Absolutely my only complaint or recommendation would be to include one more port day. I love the "at sea" days, but I could have used one less of them and one more port day. Also for no explained reason, Celebrity opted not to go to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and instead went to Cartagena, Colombia. Except for the good prices on emeralds, Cartagena was a bust for me. Although I would still choose a cruise that stopped in Cartagena, I would never get off the ship there again. There was nothing to really see and the cruise only offered three tours which were almost identical. And you were really harassed by the street vendors to buy their "junk". I wanted to get a t-shirt that said . . ."Would rather be in Costa Rica." But my boyfriend did buy me a gorgeous emerald pendant there so not all was lost, although when he gets his credit card statement he will wish even more that he would rather have been in Costa Rica on the $60 rainforest excursion where the most expensive thing I could have wanted was a $10 teak knickknack. Internet Cafe: It was really nice to have that option to keep in touch with people at home as opposed to expensive phone calls. But the Internet cafe was too expensive. They charged $.95 PER MINUTE. That is why I never posted to the Cruise Critic board. But it was perfect to be able to get on and off within three minutes and confirm that all was okay back home. Still a much more reasonable option than the phone calls. Entertainment: We did not see many shows. I am not really into the show revues, but I did see one really funny comedian, Noodles Levenstein. I understand that I missed an even better comedian: James Cameron. I loved the late seating as I could extend my day activities and not have to cut everything short to get ready for dinner, but I was so tired after the sun and the food that I could barely stay up much after dinner. I still prefer late seating to main and in general I think that people who select late over early seating are livelier and there is a better chance for interested tablemates. Children: [There were] hardly any which I found to be a good thing. I think I heard that there were less than 15 children onboard. A 14 day cruise is probably not ideal for families, although they did have nice facilities for children if you did choose to bring them. Ports of Call Panama Canal: [It was] very cool to go from Atlantic to Pacific in about eight hours. And it was fun sitting in the hot tub looking up and wondering if the Infinity would make it under the Bridge of the Americas, which marked the end of the Panama Canal as we entered the Pacific. From the hot tub it did NOT look like she would clear the bridge, but then she glided under. Although later I did hear that if the tide had been high enough we might have been forced to wait until it went down. Other than that however, The Panama Canal is so industrial looking all the way through and I am not sure I would be interested in doing that again. But it was a good experience to have once. Key West: Went snorkeling and had a nice time but couldn't go to the reefs because of the rough waters. It was nice to get in the water where we did, but did not really see much. Key West or any other American port is a great place to get soda for the ship. We got two 12 packs of Diet Pepsi which we killed in like five days and then were forced to buy the $1.95 diet cokes on the ship. Don't buy the diet coke (which they call Coca Cola Light) or diet Pepsi in the non-American ports. It tastes terrible. Cozumel: Got unlucky with snorkeling again. They cancelled all the snorkeling trips because of rough seas and instead we went on a jeep tour to this beach. We had a good time with this as well. The shopping in Cozumel is also good. Cartegena: stay on board! Puerta Caldera: Did the Carara Rain Forest hike and it was beautiful. Others did the Poas Volcano and really liked that as well. But the people who ended up seeing monkeys did the river tours. I think it was because it was such a hot day and the monkeys were near the water. The tour guides in Costa Rica are very knowledgeable and personable. On the Carara tour we stopped in one place where we saw at least 30 crocodiles, but never saw any monkeys. Acapulco: Did not do a ship excursion, but was dying for Mexican food and had some really great food at Senor Frogs. It was a $12 cab ride one way, but I so needed my Mexican food fix that it was worth it. The ship food is great, but if you like hot and spicy ethnic food. . you are out of luck. One day the ship had a Mexican fiesta lunch, but I did not see one jalapeno or bottle of hot sauce or even guacamole. But then again I did not expect it. We also went to a beach and took a banana boat ride. That was really fun. Renting wave runners is another fun option in Acapulco. I did not however find the beaches to be very clean. Watch where you step. Cabos San Lucas: Did the Catamaran Snorkel and Sail. Brrrrr the water was cold. There was no reef, but the fish were quite nice. Saw a small colony of sea lions and then the tour guides riled everyone up with liquor and loud music and we had a great sail. We had more Mexican food in Cabos at the famous Giggling Marlin and rented wave runners. It was fun to zoom around the Infinity and the Statendam which were both anchored in the harbor that day. You have to tender to this port. They have lots of nice things to buy in the flea market near the ship, but be careful. I bought a beautiful onyx chess set which they wrapped for me after I bargained them down and when we opened it up in the ship we realized one chess piece was missing. We do believe it was intentional because they did not like the price we wanted to pay. I felt when I walked away that I should have opened the box, but I didn't because we were running short of time and had to make the last tender. Not sure how I am going to manage to find a piece that will match. My boyfriend bought a watch from them that he charged to his credit card and we will attempt to contact them with that information, but I am not hopeful that they will fix the problem. They knew we were on the ship and when we realized the piece was missing it would be too late. I definitely do NOT think it was accidental. If anyone has any specific questions about Infinity just ask me. But I don't think anyone could possibly be disappointed with this cruise. There really is something for everyone.March 2001 Read Less
We just got back yesterday from our latest cruise and I thought I would sit down and write the review before I forget all of the little details! It was on the Celebrity Infinity, departing May 20th, 2002 from Honolulu, finishing in ... Read More
We just got back yesterday from our latest cruise and I thought I would sit down and write the review before I forget all of the little details! It was on the Celebrity Infinity, departing May 20th, 2002 from Honolulu, finishing in Vancouver on May 31st, 2002. A little background information: this was our third cruise, and our second on Celebrity. We are in our early 30s and tend to enjoy ports, production shows and dressing up for dinner more than late night discos, parties and casual nights. We arranged our own air (as always, much cheaper and more convenient than the cruise line option) and spent one extra day at each of the departure and arrival ports. The Ship We had previously sailed on the Celebrity Millenium and it was so similar we had no problems finding anything. It was sort of like going to Disneyland after you have already visited the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld: almost everything is the same and you roughly know where to find what you want. That being said, this is a beautiful ship with many delightful public areas. We were in a category 2C (same as the inside and outside rooms only this one had a balcony) and felt that it was more than enough space for two people. It had plenty of storage, a large bed, a small loveseat (a little tight for two) and a roomy shower (although not a roomy bathroom). The balcony was nice, but not spectacular. The nicest part was being able to open the door and feel the breeze. In an outside cabin the window doesn't open so this option is only available in the balcony cabins. There have been many reviews of the Millenium, Summit and Infinity, so I won't dwell too much on what has already been repeated many times except to say that we were pleased with the ship and didn't have any real complaints as to the facilities. The Entertainment As on our last Celebrity cruise, we noted that the entertainment was somewhat lacking, but since we had expected this we weren't really disappointed. Celebrity's big problem is that if you are uninterested in the main show in the theatre, there is very little else to do. The alternatives would be listening to a mediocre duo in the smoky Rendezvous lounge or watching a movie (if one is running). One night an opera singer was scheduled to perform. This was not my kind of thing but my husband was interested so I went to the movie and he went to the show. The show was somewhat sparsely attended, and the movie was packed to overflowing, as was the line to see the second showing of the movie. Since the movie was I Am Sam (a decent film but hardly a box office smash) I suspect many people were there for the same reason I was: it was the only real alternative to the opera singer. Celebrity needs to offer a better selection of entertainment. Perhaps they could have a nightly comic or magic act in the Constellation lounge? Would this really be so costly? My other complaint about the entertainment is that the theme parties always start so late (usually close to 11 pm or later). Why can't Celebrity begin these parties at 7 pm or 8 pm or even 9 pm? Even after 5 days at sea in a row, it was obvious (by applause levels at the evening show) that the majority of the passengers had not seen midnight the entire cruise. You would think that Celebrity would realize this and set their schedule around the majority of their passengers. Needless to say, my husband and I did not attend any of the theme parties or midnight buffets. Now the good! We were very impressed with the cruise director, Allan. He was funny and personable and seemed to be a big hit, especially with the older ladies (if you know what I mean). We always enjoyed the events he hosted and he was full of life. The Food As we had remembered, Celebrity's food was excellent, with the occasional duds thrown in. We especially liked the wonderful selection of desserts every night. One evening we went to the SS United States specialty restaurant ($25 extra per person) and both the food and service there were truly divine. As my husband said afterwards, "You just can't imagine a dining experience being any better than this." Anyone who travels on the newer Celebrity cruise ships must go to the specialty restaurant at least once. It is well worth it! Insider's Trick! When you don't think you are going to get back to the boat for lunch, order a couple of ham & cheese baguettes from room service the night before and pack them in a cooler (we had a collapsible one that was great for sandwiches and sodas). You can get ice from the machines at the buffet and for good measure we put the ice into ziploc bags. The baguettes are good and made a nice snack, tiding us over until we got back to the boat for some food. The Ports - General Information All of the shore excursions offered by Celebrity can be arranged by yourself in advance, at a significant discount. There is no need to purchase the Celebrity package as there is nothing you cannot walk to or get a free shuttle to. Get an AAA tour book and do your homework before you go. It will save you a lot of money whether you do a helicopter tour, the Atlantis submarines, a luau, a bike tour or anything else. WARNING! All of the little booths you see with too-good-to-be-true prices are just that. To get these prices you must attend a timeshare presentation and since most ports are only a few hours in duration, even if you wanted this option you could not do it in the time allotted. You are much better off booking your own excursions in advance. Honolulu, Oahu We only arrived the night before the cruise, however because there was a 3 hour time difference from our native California time we were up bright and early. This allowed us to line up for tickets at the Arizona Memorial at 7 am (it opens at 7:30 am). We were 10th in line. It's a good thing too, because by 7:15 am there were 2,000 people behind us in line. Between the 2,000 people Infinity was disgorging that day, and the 2,000 people embarking, plus the regular tourist traffic, the place was packed. My advice is no matter how long your stay in Honolulu, take advantage of your jet lag the first day or two and get out early to see the memorial. It is worth waiting the extra 30 minutes in the morning not to have to wait the extra hours later in the day. Another warning, they will not let you take ANYTHING into the memorial other than a small camera in your hand (no camera bags, no purses, no diaper bags, etc.) in the post-Sept. 11th era. Make sure you leave ALL your luggage at the hotel and I do mean ALL. After the memorial, we went over to the Missouri and again were one of the first groups on the boat since it opens later (9 am) and most people see it after seeing the Arizona. We were able to finish by 11 am and grab a cab to the ship (with a quick stop enroute at our hotel to pick up our luggage). Officially boarding did not start until 1 pm but we were onboard at 11:30 am, enjoying the welcome aboard pizza and buffet luncheon. Kona, Hawaii/Big Island We have yet to cruise the Caribbean, but from what I have heard Kona is very much like the majority of those ports. There were some small beaches close to the tender dropoff point, some nicer ones a 20 minute walk away, and some touristy shops, as well as a couple of minor historical sites (the Hulihee Palace and Hawaii's oldest church). The Hulihee Palace was interesting but short and once we had seen that and walked all 10 minutes of Kona's main strip we were bored. I will admit that we saw the best shopping prices in Kona, including a guy selling nice 'packable' sun hats for $8-$12 each. This was much cheaper than anywhere else we saw on the islands. Also, the Kona coffee is obviously cheapest here. But shop around! We got a half pound for $9, but in a convenience store it was $4 for a half pound. The difference is that we got 100% Kona Coffee and the convenience store stuff was 10% Kona Coffee. It depends what matters to you I guess, but you need to read packages and look carefully! Nawilliwilli/Lihue, Kauai This island is the oldest and one of the most undeveloped, due to its mountainous/volcanic terrain. Much of the island is only viewable by boat or air. For this reason we chose to do a helicopter tour in this port. In an hour long flight we managed to circle the island and crisscross it twice, seeing both the coastline and the interior (the interior only being visible by air since boats cannot sail inland). The flight was expensive ($139 per person) but well worth doing once, and was still much cheaper than the $200 per person Celebrity wanted to charge. Kauai is the 'wettest spot in the world', receiving up to 600 inches of rain per year. It rains almost every day. Generally the morning is the nicest, and as the day goes on it gets cloudier and wetter. Any kind of excursion you book should be for first thing in the morning to get the best views. Almost as soon as we had finished our helicopter tour (11:30 am) it began to rain and didn't stop until after we left. We used this time to take the free shuttles to the shopping areas. Lahaina, Maui I'm not sure we really needed two days at this port but that is what we got. The first day we took the Atlantis submarine tour ($18 per person cheaper on our own than with Celebrity) and walked around the town, seeing the local sites, and on the second day we split up. My husband did the bike tour down the Haleakala volcano crater and he said that it was one of the best experiences of his life. If you are into biking and gorgeous scenery he would highly recommend it. Make sure you get a tour that takes you all the way up to the top of the crater (10,000 feet) and not just part of the way up. Even though we only booked this the day before, we were still able to save $10 off of the Celebrity price for this excursion. Since I was solo, I took a free shuttle up to Whaler's Village at Kaanapaali Beach, which is wonderful. If you like white sand beaches this is the place to be. In the afternoon I did some window-shopping in Lahaina. Hilo, Hawaii/Big Island This is the one place where we seriously considered doing the Celebrity tour to go see the Volcano National Park, which is 30 miles outside of Hilo. As it turned out, we had some friends who were familiar with the park who were visiting the island at the same time we were in port so they picked us up and took us there themselves. However when we got off the boat I noticed a number of local tour companies who were picking up passengers and taking them to the Volcano Park in small vans. I suspect that if we had done some homework we could have booked a personal tour in advance at a cheaper price than Celebrity's tour. A number of people also rented cars in this port for the express purpose of seeing the park. Vancouver We only had an afternoon in Vancouver and we spent it walking around the downtown area. It was nice, but not outstanding. Frankly we prefer walking around San Francisco (we live in the San Francisco area) more than Vancouver. We would have liked to see Victoria (I have heard it is lovely) but it takes a minimum of a day and we did not have the time. However it was nice to relax after getting off the boat instead of rushing to the airport. Overall We had never been to Hawaii before and we had a terrific time overall, and really appreciated this way to see a number of different islands on one trip. I'm not sure we would do a Hawaiian cruise again any time soon, but it is definitely worth doing once, and the Infinity is a fabulous boat to be doing it on. Two thumbs up!June 2002 Read Less
This was a good cruise, but not a great one. Celebrity's byline is 'Exceeding Expectations.' Apparently, our expectations were too high, because they were not exceeded in every category. As you will read, we were ... Read More
This was a good cruise, but not a great one. Celebrity's byline is 'Exceeding Expectations.' Apparently, our expectations were too high, because they were not exceeded in every category. As you will read, we were disappointed in two major respects which detracted significantly from our experience. We traveled from Honolulu around the Hawaiian Islands, visiting four ports (Kona on Hawaii, Nawiliwili on Kauai, Lahaina on Maui, Hilo on Hawaii) and then sailed five days to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the ship's relocation for the Alaska season. The cruise was a total of 11 days. My wife and I have been on 13 cruises. We are both 60 years old. This was our second Celebrity cruise. The first, around the tip of South America on the Mercury in January, 2001, was the best cruise we had taken to that point. In summary, the Infinity, as a cruise ship, was good to excellent; the entertainment was outstanding; the food was fair to good; the ship's management was fair to good. Now the details... The Infinity The Infinity, sister ship to the newer Summit, was introduced into service in March, 2001. It is a very large ship, over three football fields long (964 feet), 91,000 tons, with a capacity of approximately 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew. Our sailing was very close to capacity. The ship is not beautiful in terms of its grandeur or artwork. It is best described as comfortable and very functional. For example, the latest rage is to have a 'killer atrium' area as the focal point of activities. The builders of the Infinity could have eliminated the atrium: it is artistically dull and puny in scope. It looked no better than a Marriott Hotel lobby. The artwork and decorations around the ship are 'modern' which really means weird. No need for an art tour on this ship! But, don't let this description put you off. The ship was very functional for cruising. It has lots of public space that is quite useful on a cruise. In addition to the usual complement of lounges and restaurants, the Infinity had... - Separate movie cinema - Main theater that was very spacious and well designed for viewing from any seat - Separate room (Notes) in which you could listen to about 1,000 CDs pre-loaded and selectable for personal listening via headsets - Separate room (Michaels) for cigar smokers - Library that was split over two floors with an internal staircase - Card/game room (Tower) that was split over two floors with an internal staircase - On-line room for Internet access with plenty of terminals (50 cents per minute log-on charge) - Health spa, spacious and very well equipped - Florist with fresh flowers - Large emporium with numerous shops Our stateroom was on the lowest passenger deck, inside...the 'cheap seats.' We had booked 'run of the ship inside,' but because the cruise was near sold out, we did not receive an upgrade. We asked about a possible upgrade when we boarded but were told that, if one was available, we would have to pay the fare difference. We declined the offer. Our stateroom was about a third of the way from the front of the ship. It was smaller than some we have been in, but it was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The shower was particularly big. I am a very light sleeper; however, I had no problem with noise. We hardly heard our neighbors, and there was very little ship vibration or engine noise. My only complaint about the stateroom was the location of the air conditioning fan. It blew air toward the ceiling which reflected to the head of the bed. I constantly had this fan blowing cool air on my head during the night. With the thinning of my hair, this was not comfortable. I slept with a pillow over my head most of the night. There were three banks of elevators/stairs, one forward, one aft and one midship. Plan on walking a lot in going from deck to deck. And, the algorithm used to allocate the elevators was annoying. Often, an elevator would sit on a floor just one deck lower or higher while we waited for another one to eventually make its way to serve our call. Sometimes, an elevator would bypass us in the direction of our call while we waited. Annoying! Given the ship's size, it was very stable in the sea, although it was never really tested by any rough weather during our voyage. There was a nice promenade deck with deck chairs. These particular chairs don't articulate, but the standard position is comfortable for reading and snoozing. The major pool is outdoors with no weather covering over the pool, itself. We had fine weather until about three days out of Vancouver when the temperatures dropped. It became quite cool to sit around or swim in this pool. It is surprising that a retractable roof was not included in the design. There is a second pool next to the health spa which is indoor, but very small. The Crew The ship's senior officers are Greek. The crew is quite a mixture of nationalities. Most of the food and drink servers were from the Balkans; most of the house keeping staff were from the South Pacific or Asian subcontinent. The service by the crew was good to excellent. There was a little 'not my department' stuff, but not obnoxiously so. The crew was quite friendly. The Food This was our biggest disappointment. The food, with one exception described below, is best described as 'uninspired.' The selections were not high quality nor particularly tasty. The recipes seemed bland or were executed blandly. In addition to the main dining room, there was the hamburger/hot-dog/pizza place by the pool. The hamburgers were over-cooked cardboard; the hot dogs were overly salty. The pizza was good. There were no sausages grilled at this place. A nice alternative to eating breakfast and lunch in the main dining room or the buffet restaurant was the 'Healthy Food' at the spa. It was far less crowded and had nice selections, low calorie, at least, lower than the other places. There was an alternative evening dining area set up in the buffet restaurant which served from two limited, fixed menus which alternated every other day. This option was offered instead of opening the buffet lines for dinner. A specialty coffee bar modeled after a pastry shop in Milan, Italy, offered specialty coffees (at a charge) and high-end Italian wines. For beer drinkers, there was a reasonable selection of good beers in the bottle plus Amstel Light and Heineken on draft. There was no 'nickel and dime' mentality on the Infinity. The ice cream was available at fixed hours at no charge. Other than the specialty coffees, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, everything else was at no charge. In contrast to the general blandness of the above food, there was the S.S. United States restaurant. Here, the food was exquisite, only rivaled by the elegant service. The restaurant recreates the first class atmosphere of 1950 trans-Atlantic cruise. It costs $25 per person to dine there and the wine costs are outrageous, but the experience is worth it. The contrast between the S.S. United States food and the rest of the ship's fare is so wide that it really makes the other food pale even more. We ate at this specialty restaurant six days into our cruise. The Entertainment Since entertainers come and go on ships and the quality of the entertainment is so transitory, I will not dwell on this subject. Suffice to say, it was the best we had experienced, including the cruise director, the ship's dance/song cast, the guest performers, and the lounge acts. Even the ship's orchestra was good! In terms of shore excursions, we rarely avail ourselves of this service. We can usually do much better, much less expensively, making our own way. Since our ports of call were in Hawaii and Vancouver, we easily made most of our arrangements before the cruise via the Internet. And, as usual, there were plenty of cab drivers who were more than happy to provide personalized tours at each port. We used tenders at two ports. The management of this particular ship could use lessons on how to organize and execute a tendering service. We sat long times (30 minutes was not uncommon), both to and from the ship, in the tenders, baking under the sun. It was a big time waster. Other Stuff We were told there were approximately 40 children on the ship. They were mostly invisible during the day, but were more visible and obnoxious during dining and at the main theater shows. The daily national/international newswire handout was not available until 10:00 AM, which meant it was too late to read during breakfast. It did not include a crossword puzzle. Celebrity has a policy, similar to Holland America, of having a Catholic priest on board. Ship's Management Every ship is different, even if it is physically configured the same as its sister ships. The quality of the ship's management in delivering on the cruise line's formula has a lot to do with the cruise experience. I felt the Infinity's management was lacking in crispness of execution. It evidenced itself in a number of small, seemingly insignificant, ways. But, when you add them all up, they detract from the experience. I have already commented on the poor management of the shore tendering process. Add to that the number of times my wife used the public ladies' washrooms to find them dirty and even with clogged toilets. Or, the number of times multiple coffee machines were inoperable during breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurant. Or, the constant ring of cell phones as the crew communicated with each other walking through the public areas. Or, a maitre'd giving one of his servers negative feedback within earshot of passengers. Or, the late morning arrival of the daily news from the newswires. Or, the occasional 'passing of the buck' without taking the proactive step to make the contact for me. Or, the grumpy, almost rude, response when we tried to change our dining from the late seating to the early seating. Just little things. But, all signs of mismanagement of one form or another. I know it is tough for a crew to keep a positive, crisp approach week after week of repetition, but that is precisely what we are paying for. It may be their 100th time, but it is our first. All in all, this was an okay cruise, not a great one. We will probably sail on Celebrity again, but Princess and Holland America will continue to get more of our money. If you want to ask any questions, please contact me via: flightsend@hotmail.com Make sure you include 'Infinity' in the subject or your message might be deleted as junk mail without being read.June 2002 Read Less
How do you describe "heaven"? The "Infinity", that's how! What a ship. She is absolutely the most beautiful ship we have ever been on.
How do you describe "heaven"? The "Infinity", that's how! What a ship. She is absolutely the most beautiful ship we have ever been on. Read Less
After much anticipation the day finally arrived for us to leave for the Alaska repositioning cruise May 1st on the Infinity. Background: Myself (age 34) and my husband (40) took my parents on this cruise for their 40th wedding ... Read More
After much anticipation the day finally arrived for us to leave for the Alaska repositioning cruise May 1st on the Infinity. Background: Myself (age 34) and my husband (40) took my parents on this cruise for their 40th wedding anniversary. My husband and I had only cruised one other time on the Sovereign of the Seas, and my parents had never cruised before. We picked this particular sailing for a couple of reasons. The first was that it was one of the few cruises going to Alaska over my parents May 5th wedding anniversary. Second, was that it stopped in Seattle, where my sister and her husband and two kids live. Third, I chose Celebrity because for this particular cruise my priority was something a little more upscale rather than constant activity, so I did my research and chose the Infinity May 1 -May 11th sailing to Alaska. Embarkation: Piece of cake. The only other embarkation I had ever experienced was with Royal Caribbean in Port Canaveral which was a completely hideous experience. We arrived at the Pier from the San Francisco airport via limo. Even though this is not a normal port for Celebrity, I was surprised at how quickly it went and how organized they were. We were onboard in ten minutes at approximately 12:15pm. I did hear from other passengers who arrived after us that once the busses from the airport arrived embarkation was taking a couple hours. For once the luck of timing was on my side. Once on the ship we were greeted by a Celebrity employee who showed us to our cabins. We were booked in two Category 3 staterooms, 7201 and 7204. When we entered the rooms I was amazed at how spacious they were. There was a huge amount of storage space, way more than we could possibly have used (and I tend to over pack). The balcony was huge as well. I had been a little concerned since our rooms were right next to the category 3 corner cabins that our view would be obstructed by those balconies with the portion that juts out, but this wasn't the case. My initial view from the balcony was Alcatraz, which got me even more pumped up for the upcoming trip. The weather in San Francisco that day was absolutely gorgeous (unfortunately by far the best weather we would experience during the entire trip!) The cabin had two beds which were made up into a King as we had requested, the tuxedo's I had rented for my dad and husband were in our rooms, and there was a nice bottle of wine in each room from our travel agent. I had prebooked the shore excursions online and our tickets were in the cabin. Very slick! Our room had our dining room table assignment card, but my parents room did not. So while I went off in search of where they were doing the dining assignment changes, my mom and dad settled on their balcony lounge chairs with a glass of wine and watched the boats sail by. So up to the Rendezvous lounge I went. I found the area where they were dealing with dining assignment problems and put my name on the waiting list. There were probably about 20 other people sitting in chairs waiting for their names to be called, all of them looking extremely grumpy (RELAX people, you're on vacation!). I found out from the guy taking names that my parents did have the same table we did, but it was a table for 4 (I had requested a large table in anticipation of us getting sick of each other). In addition to that the table was located right next to a large waiter station, so I decided to wait it out and see what other tables were available. Since the wait would probably be about a half hour I went to the table that was taking reservations for the United States restaurant and made a reservation for the night of my parents anniversary (more on that later). I then dutifully took my seat and waited my turn. Remember, I had literally just gotten off of a plane, and I was wearing jean overalls and a T-Shirt. The woman I sat down next to looked me up and down and said "I was told by my travel agent that Celebrity was a more upscale cruise line and the guests would be more dressed up" I am not kidding she actually said this to me. Fortunately, most of the guests I met were great people, and thanks to some of the internet message boards I met some fantastic people online ahead of time (hi Noel, Beav, Linecoach, Jeff and the many others). After about 5 minutes of waiting I was beginning to feel very sorry for the poor guy who was doing the reassigning. Apparently people take their dining room assignments as a matter of life and death because this guy was getting yelled at by almost everyone who came to him. I was sitting fairly close to the table he was stationed at so I was able to amuse myself with the stories people came up with. I'm still pondering what possible medical reason there could be that someone couldn't eat dinner before 9:00 at night! Anyway, eventually it was my turn. I explained to him that I had requested a large table and we were at a table for 4, and that if at all possible we would prefer to not be right next to a waiter station. He looked at me, rubbed his eyes and said (and I quote) "you nice lady, you no give me headache, I give you really nice table". So...what I was rewarded with for being one of the few people who didn't yell at the poor guy was table 411. A table for 4 next to the captain's table, with a gorgeous view out the huge 2 story high windows in the aft of the dining room. (Lesson: you'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar). I took the opportunity to explore more of the ship and was not disappointed. The decorating is well done; each public room has its own unique look and feel to it. Every staff member I passed, looked me in the eye, smiled and said hello. I went back to our rooms, grabbed my parents for the bon voyage and sailing under the Golden Gate and went up to the pool deck. We watched the ship sailing under the Golden Gate (a weirdly patriotic and awesome experience!), and then went down to get ready for dinner. As soon as the ship got out of the bay, the ocean was VERY rough, and I mean VERY rough. Later, our waiter told us that out of the 1800 guests on the ship that night, they had 600 people not show up for dinner. I left dinner early (what a shame with that great table) and spent the rest of the night in our cabin. I can only speak for our two cabins, but there was ALOT of vibration in the cabins. So much so that at times we had things fall off of the desk or the sink in the bathroom. It was mainly when we were in rough seas, coming into port, or in calm seas, but the captain had us going full speed. I don't want to understate this but I don't want to exaggerate it either, but just to make people aware who are considering booking the cat 3 cabins and the cat 1's overlooking the back of the ship that in certain circumstances there is a noticeable vibration. Would I book another Cat 3 in the future knowing that there was a vibration present? In a heartbeat. I won't bore you with the gory details of our seasickness so I will fast forward a bit here to the ports. SEATTLE: What can I say, it's my favorite city in the country and from having a sister who lives there I know it very well. We spent the day walking around downtown finding an excuse to stop for a drink or lunch or dessert or coffee or more dessert or another drink. VICTORIA: We rented a limo (Royal Limousine) and did a 4 hour city tour. I would highly recommend this limo company. They hire people who are retired who have lived in the area for a long time. Our driver was retired from the Coast Guard and had lived in Victoria all his life. We were able to see a lot of this charming city that on a normal tour wouldn't have been available to us. At $50 Canadian per hour, we paid for the 4 of us about the same amount of money that we would have paid for the ships bus tour. SITKA: We had to tender into Sitka (very cold) since the tenders were not completely enclosed. There isn't a lot to do in this town. We took a cab up to the Raptor rehabilitation center which is not much more than a small building, some birds in enclosed fences, and a walking trail through the woods. If the tour guide takes their time the tour lasts about 15 minutes. The cost of admission is $10.00 per person, but since it goes to the ongoing costs of running the center we didn't feel ripped off. After we stopped in a local hole in the wall bar (my husbands passion when we are in different cities is going to the most run down looking bar he can find and talking to the locals.) after the bar stop we had had enough of Sitka and waited in line for about 20 minutes in very windy very wet 45 degree weather to tender back. Back in the comfort of our floating resort, we decided we deserved some of that yummy Celebrity pizza which we ordered from room service. It went well with the rum and cokes we had smuggled onboard. SKAGWAY: We took the White Pass train tour. As everyone says, sit on the left hand side of the train on the way up. Even though you switch sides at the top of the pass, for some reason the view going up is much better than going down. Although I thought I would be very bored on this tour, I enjoyed it a lot. The scenery was spectacular and the narration was well done. We even ran into some heavy snow at the top of the pass (I'm from Minnesota, so when I say heavy snow, I mean HEAVY SNOW!). We went to the Red Onion saloon which was nice and then found our way to the Skagway Brewing company. This is a combo bar, restaurant and store, attached to a small Victorian looking hotel. I would recommend this as a stop, and the clam chowder was awesome. We went in and out of many of the shops and made it back to the ship just in time. JUNEAU: My mom and husband took the city bus tour which they said was awful. Their bus driver spent the whole tour talking about her son, and not pointing out any of the sites that they were passing. My dad and I took the helicopter glacier tour. I booked this independently of the ship, and booked it directly with Coastal Helicopters. (Ask for JAG as your pilot) I would highly recommend this tour. It was an awesome experience. It was just me, my dad and Jag, and it was his first tour of the season so he was as excited to be on the glacier as we were. We spent about 25 minutes exploring the glacier before our return trip. We had a 1:00pm flight and I guess were fortunate since due to weather they cancelled the later afternoon flights (yes the crummy weather was still following us) We did the obligatory Red Dog Saloon stop (good beer!) then some shopping then headed back to the ship. KETCHIKAN: All four of us had opted for the "Back Country Jeep Safari" tour. This was a new tour being offered by the tour company ATA (owned by Princess Cruise line) but was offered through Celebrity. We were the first group ever to go on this tour (our jeep had 80 miles on it). They still didn't have all the kinks worked out, since this was a new tour, which I am taking into consideration for this review, yet I don't think I would recommend for people to go on this tour for the following reasons. The tour book said a 3 ½ hour tour with a combination jeep ride, canoeing and nature hike. They split our bus of 26 people into 2 groups. Our tour started out on the jeeps. We only spent about 20 minutes actually driving in the jeeps, with one stop to look at the scenery. Then we went to a lake where we changed into rain gear (believe it or not it was hailing at this point). All 16 of us got into a canoe and canoed about ½ mile across the lake to a dock. We got out of the canoe, and they had a little hut type structure set up, with a large table with some food on it and a woman standing over a camp fire cooking soup in a big pot. We took our life jackets off and did the "nature hike" What the nature hike consisted of was a trail that was carved out and actually bordered on the sided with wood rail road ties. The trail was as long as it takes me to walk around the outside of my house. We then had our soup (which was still cold) our hot chocolate (which was lukewarm), then got back into the canoes and went back across the lake, where we got on the bus and rode back to where they park the jeeps to pick up the second half of our group who had taken the jeeps after they had canoed. In my opinion they could knock out the canoeing and the "nature hike" and just do jeeping. This seemed to be the general consensus amongst most of the people on the tour. For the 4 of us I paid over $500 for this tour, and really didn't feel like we got our moneys worth. The weather finally cleared up and we had a great rest of the day in Ketchikan. We LOVED this city and are actually planning on going back for a long weekend later this summer. The crew of the Infinity hangs out at Annabelles where we stopped for a drink, and we saw our room steward, our assistant waiter and the woman who runs Michael's there. A few more things that may be of interest to you. FOOD: The food in the dining room was great for lunch and dinner and the service was always perfect. I found the dining room a bit loud and clattery, but this could be due to the location of our table. We were on the first floor of the two-floor dining room and were in the section that was open to the ceiling on the 5th floor. Our assistant waiter Jose made it a particularly enjoyable experience. The breakfast in the dining room was marginal and after a few days we started eating at the buffet for breakfast. The buffets in the Oceanview Grill were average buffet food, nothing exceptional, but nothing hideous either. The day we were in port in Seattle we knew we would be returning to the ship too late for the early dinner seating so we made reservations for dinner in the Oceanview Grill. Do yourself a favor and skip this experience. The food wasn't very good and you had to go up to the buffet line to pick up your soup, salad and appetizer, then they brought the entrEe to you. After having eaten in the main dining room for dinner the food was disappointing. ROOM SERVICE: We used this a lot. You can order your food over the TV, but after doing this once I found it easier just to pick up the phone. The second night of the cruise my mom still wasn't feeling up to venturing to the dining room for dinner so we called their cabin steward and he brought us the dining room menu. We wrote down our order for him with a request that he not bring our dessert (Cherries Jubilee) until after we had finished our dinner (which he did). Everything arrived hot and was wonderful. We ordered probably every item off the menu at one time or another and the food was always good. It was really nice ordering the fruit and cheese platter each night to go with our before dinner cocktails. MICHAELS: My husband is a wholesaler for cigars and when on vacation both he and my dad will indulge in the nasty habit. So each night after dinner we went into Michaels. This is a great place to relax and is extremely under utilized. They have an awesome ventilation system and the room is not smoky at all. The bartender/waitress in Michaels was awesome. After the first night she knew what each of us drank and would just ask "the usual?" AAAAAAHHHHHH the joys of being pampered. ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were good. The Broadway one is a must see. I had seen many of the shows they spotlighted actually ON BROADWAY and I was impressed with the show (if that's any indication of the quality). My only complaint about any of the entertainment was the Stan Duo. These two guys seemed to ALWAYS be playing in the Rendezvous Lounge. They played there each afternoon and almost every night. In my humble opinion they are kind of lousy. This may be unfair and may be coming from the fact that we heard them so often (we usually passed through the Rendezvous to get anywhere on the ship). I think maybe Celebrity should make the investment to have 2 different groups rotating the time in the Rendezvous (and make sure one of them doesn't have an electric organ!). The other house band Onyx was incredible. Their diverse repertoire was incredible. The fact that they can play for the sock hop (a must see is the Cruise Director Jim Cannon in his nerd routine at the sock hop) and they played equally great for the Caribbean night. All in all I was impressed with the level of entertainment. SS UNITED STATES: The one word I would use to describe this experience is "incredible". We ate here on two separate occasions. The service is of a level I have never experienced before (and I travel and eat out quite extensively). The feeling of being pampered was out of this world. To give you an indication of the level of service, they have one guy whose only job is to walk around with the breadbasket and keep offering you more bread! It is a long dining experience (both times is was two and a half hours) but it doesn't seem that long, and after the somewhat rushed service of being in the first dining room seating, was a welcome change. I didn't think the food could be much better than in the main dining room, but it was. Make sure someone in your party orders the goat cheese soufflE and the chocolate soufflE. I had the Shrimp Scampi the first night, which was good but not exceptional, and the veal the second night, which was out of this world. This dining experience is well worth the additional $25.00 per person, if you enjoy a more refined relaxing and "fu fu" dining experience, and should not be missed. CONCLUSION: I am sure you are saying "FINALLY" at this point. I really didn't mean for this to be this long, but I remember what information I wanted to know when I was doing my research and tried to include that here. How would I rate this cruise? Excellent! Which I'm sure is a little confusing given my nit picky comments at times. And those negative comments were just that....nit picky. I go on vacation with relatively high expectations, but I don't let the little things get to me. Yes the weather was icky, oh well....yes some of my fellow passengers were rude and condescending, oh well...yes the Stan Duo drove me nuts....oh well, I didn't HAVE to walk through the Rendezvous lounge. The ship was great, the service was incredible, Alaska in my opinion is a must see. Would I book Celebrity again. Yes, although there are other cruise lines I would like to try before I go back to Celebrity. (I like change and new experiences). Please feel free to email me with any questions, I will be more than happy to answer them.susanw@eempact.comMay 2001 Read Less
We have just arrived back from the 7-day Inside Passage Cruise to Alaska aboard Celebrity Cruises, the Infinity. The ship was absolutely fabulous, special features being the grand foyer and the marble-like staircase, the top-notch ... Read More
We have just arrived back from the 7-day Inside Passage Cruise to Alaska aboard Celebrity Cruises, the Infinity. The ship was absolutely fabulous, special features being the grand foyer and the marble-like staircase, the top-notch Celebrity Theatre with its excellent sightlines and the strategically placed Library (Words), Tea Room and Tower Room (for card sharks) offering solitude amongst a crowd. Although we opted for an inside cabin I found it more than adequate with spacious drawers and cupboards and a wall to wall mirror. The gas turbine engines made for a smooth, low vibration trip. The boarding in Vancouver, B.C. went smoothly, the staff was efficient and friendly. One of my disappointments was the fact that once onboard I missed a tour of the ship - an option that was not publicized. The food was I would say around a 6 1/2 to 7 out of 10. Plate presentation could improve and the same old salad day in and day out could do with a pick-up. The prime rib was excellent but pass on the lamb steak. Desserts at dinner - well order the ice cream! Staff were pleasant (except for 1 or 2). Jean Pierre our assistant waiter deserves special commendation - he went the extra mile for us and smiled all the time. I did take exception to the fact that one employee spent his time on deck hocking hot chocolate in a "plastic" take home souvenir mug - the atmosphere turned somewhat "Carnival". Entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre was Very Good! The Celebrity Dancers and Singers put on Vegas styled shows, David Lucas captured our attention with his "self-depreciating" humor and juggling and Dominique Ava could make a violin sing. Both Guest Comment Cards and Guest Survey Questionnaires were available. There was no reason to believe your concerns would be addressed. The on-board naturalist was a disappointment. I thought she spoke of herself more than the topic at hand. I let head office in on that comment. During the course of the trip I only remember twice hearing on the P.A. system where I actually was on my cruise. If the cruise line does not want to be intrusive with a public address system then put in place another means of letting people know what body of water they are travelling through or what town lies just ahead. This was a trip in the dark (ever try an inside cabin)! Thanks Celebrity Cruise Lines for a lovely holiday. wodin@telus.netJune 2002 Read Less
The Infinity is a beautiful ship. Perhaps the best I have seen. We cruised on the Millennium last year and I prefer the color scheme and art work on this ship. We were able to board the ship by 12:30 pm. Our cabin steward was surprised ... Read More
The Infinity is a beautiful ship. Perhaps the best I have seen. We cruised on the Millennium last year and I prefer the color scheme and art work on this ship. We were able to board the ship by 12:30 pm. Our cabin steward was surprised to see us. I don't think they ever warn them that they are letting the passengers on. The cabin was not yet ready for us. The dining staff was excellent, the food was served on time and at the proper temperature for the dish.Our head waiter, Kyle from South Africa, was a joy. Because the ship does not sail out of San Juan until 11 pm, the first night is open seating. When we boarded the ship, we were handed a card, telling us what time we were to dine that night. We decided to have dinner in our cabin. We arranged it ahead of time with room service and our cabin steward. They brought in a table with a pretty table cloth and set up a romantic dinner for us. We had prime rib, fish, shrimp cocktail, bread and salad, in our jammies...J St. CroixWe took a taxi from Fredrickstad to Christianstad, about 25 minutes by taxi, and walked around town for a while. The best part of town is on the boardwalk by the water. We had a bowl of Manhattan Conch chowder at Styxx, as well as a Rum punch. Both were very good. There was a place called Rum Runners that looked good too. Then we took the water taxi to the Hotel on the Cay. It was O.K. here. Nothing special. It was close by. We swam and laid in the sun. Be prepared to be bugged by locals trying to sell you stuff the whole time you are here. St. Lucia We took the Land and Sea tour from the ship. I would highly recommend it. I felt we got a comprehensive look at the island this way. Be prepared for a lot of getting in and out of the bus, walking up steep steps at times. This tour included a trip to the botanical gardens and waterfall, a fishing village, sulfur pits at the volcano, a nice buffet lunch at an old plantation house, and a Catamaran ride and swim. I was surprised at the poverty I saw in some areas. There is a river where the local women gather every morning to wash clothes. They spread them out over the rocks in the river to dry. It is an interesting tapestry of bright colors. I wish the bus would have stopped here to get a photo. Our guide explained to us that the water bills are very high on the island and a lot of locals save money washing in the river. I think it would be kind of a nice social gathering. The island is very lush and tropical. There are several varieties of snakes here. Including Boa Constrictors! I only saw one cute little lizard. We drove past a banana plantation. I was surprised to learn that one tree/plant only grows one stalk of bananas and it takes a year to grow! Then they cut down the plant and grow a new one from the small sucker shoot that comes up from the old plant. This takes 6 months. At the fishing village a local man made us a coconut turnover. It was interesting, watching him cook it. It was pretty good. A little dry. The village is a poor one, with a lot of the venders working out of makeshift lean to's , made from things you would find washed up on the beach and old metal roofing. The botanical gardens and waterfall were very nice. The bubbling sulfur pits from the volcanos was educational, but stinky! There is a steep path and slippery steps here. If this is a problem for you, I would stay on the bus here and wait. Lunch at the old plantation was very good. We had a chance to sample some of the local food. The dining area was cool and relaxing. We also got a rum punch. We were encouraged to try the breadfruit. The official dish of St. Lucia is bread fruit and swordfish. I didn't care for it myself, but there was lot of other good things. (The bathrooms here were the cleanest on the whole excursion) After lunch were bussed to the Catamaran. Unfortunately it started to rain and didn't stop for almost the whole boat ride. We were under cover, so it was O.K. a little chilly. We stopped at a cove to swim. They let down a ladder for us to go into the water. We did not dock the cat here. We were all floating around the catamaran. It reminded me of the scene in Titanic, when all the passengers were floating around in the water by the ship. Amazingly , there were a bunch of locals in canoes trying to sell us stuff while we were in the water! Where would we have our money? And how would we get it back to the boat? Crazy! They would also climb up onto the edge of the Catamaran , selling bird feeders made out of coconuts. Barbados I have a warning about Barbados. Everyone we talked to said they were sorry they went into town. From the moment you get to town, the taxi drivers harass you. They are all over downtown, They follow you around and bug you constantly. I have never seen them this aggressive anywhere! There is a very nice shopping mall next to the ship. I did all my shopping there. Skip town. We walked to "The Boatyard". It's about a mile from the ship. Next time I would take a taxi. If you just want a nice beach to swim and lay in the sun, this is it. You pay $10. per person, and they give you $7.00 credit back to use there for lunch or drinks. You have use of all the water toys, except the jet skies. It's nice and clean and the sand is white. When we came out and chose our taxi, another taxi driver came over and tried to get us to go to his cab instead. I thought they would get into a fist fight over us! We got into the first cab, and I said "let's just GO"! If I had it to do over again. I think a ship's excursion would be a good idea in this port, and shop at the mall next to the port. Antigua My favorite Caribbean Island! I loved this island. The people were very friendly, the landscape was breathtaking, the beach was gorgeous. First we shopped in town. I found it to be the best shopping so far. More interesting things in the shops, and good prices. I picked out a nice Aquamarine and Diamond ring at "Caribbean Gems". He sized it for me while we were on the beach, and I picked it up on the way back to the ship. We took a taxi to the Jolly Harbor Resort by the marina (NOT the Jolly Harbor Beach resort) that is next door, and charges you a usage fee. The taxi driver took us to a path that lead us to the beach. The sand was pure white with a pretty good surf. We enjoyed the beach here very much. We had arranged for our cab driver to pick us up at 2:30. When we got there, he was waiting for us. He said not to pay him until after he picked us up . It was $40.00 for the round-trip cab ride. I bought a straw hat from a local man with a missing hand. He was very sweet and I love my $10.00 hat! I needed it for my now sun burnt face! St. Thomas This is the third trip to this island for us. Now, it is panic shopping time. The last port to buy those suitcase presents. We took a taxi to downtown. Bought some things from the venders and some things from the shops. We went back to the ship, dropped off our bags of stuff, had a nice buffet lunch, and headed for the beach. We taxied to Megan's Bay. It was a long ride, because of the heavy traffic. We were very sorry we chose this beach. Way too crowded. I also thought the water was very murky. We had always gone to Sapphire beach in the past and were sorry we didn't this time. Sapphire Beach resort has a beautiful white sand beach with crystal clear water and is never very crowded. I would never recommend Megan's Bay to anyone! We were sorry to see our last day arrive. We were docked in San Juan when we woke up at 6 am. We had a nice breakfast in the dining room and then came back and vacated our cabin. We were off the ship around 10:30. WARNING... You might as well be prepared. If you have to go to the San Juan airport on Saturday. You will be in a long wait at the airport to check your luggage. What a zoo!!!!! It took over 1 1/2 hours from the time the bus dropped us off, to the time we checked in. We were outside that whole time for American Airlines. A lot of folks were dressed for winter, anticipating a cold arrival at their home airport, like me, and were too hot. I would say layer your clothes, with a sleeveless shirt underneath for San Juan. In closing, if you are still with me, of all my 12 cruises this is the best! Celebrity really had it all right on this ship. Everything was just perfect. A well-oiled machine to be sure. We will have wonderful memories for years to come. Thank you Capatain Zissis and your whole crew fro a wonderful cruise! Now, where should we go next? ketchum@whidbey.netFebruary 2002 Read Less
This was a great cruise trip and vacation for us. My wife (36) and I (37) sailed on the Infinity on May 1, 2001. This was a 10-day repositioning cruise from San Francisco, CA to Vancouver, BC. This was our fifth cruise overall, and ... Read More
This was a great cruise trip and vacation for us. My wife (36) and I (37) sailed on the Infinity on May 1, 2001. This was a 10-day repositioning cruise from San Francisco, CA to Vancouver, BC. This was our fifth cruise overall, and second on Celebrity. Also, this was our first time to Alaska. We had traveled on the Millennium last July, on which we had the worst service we had ever encountered aboard a cruise ship. As a result, we were a little apprehensive about Celebrity, but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt when we booked this cruise. Prices for this cruise went down dramatically since then, but I was able to renegotiate to the lower fare - more money for excursions and the spa. Overall softness in bookings and over-capacity have created some great bargains over the last few months. The passenger age average was in the sixties; second oldest crowd for the cruises we have taken. This was expected by us and was not an issue during the actual cruise. The Good -best overall service we have ever experienced -the ship, sister to Millennium, is awesome -the food was very good The Bad -the weather was not good -lack of wildlife - did not see any whales or bears -lack of variety on ports (same stuff in every Alaskan port) The Ugly -worst seas we have ever encountered during any cruise on first night out -five cancelled excursions Details April 27th -- using frequent flyer miles we flew to Vancouver, BC for a couple of days. We stayed at the Sheraton Le Soleil, which is about 2 blocks from Canada Place. The hotel was very comfortable and would be a choice for any cruise leaving from Vancouver. Arrived late Friday night, so we called it a day as soon as we got to the room. April 28th - we purchased tickets for the Gray Line double decker bus, which makes a 2-hour loop around Vancouver. The ticket is good for 2 days. Stanley Park was nice, but is better explored on a bicycle. Granville was OK, and Robson Avenue (main shopping drag) is worth a visit. In the afternoon, we took a tour to Capilano Suspension Bridge, Capilano Hatchery, and an aerial tramway to the top of Grousse Mountain for a good view of the Vancouver area. The tour was nice, but I think you can rent a car and do it yourself cheaper. April 29th - it rained cats and dogs in the morning, but was able to visit Gastown -- a quaint tourist trap. Then, took a flight late afternoon to SF. April 30th - we visited some family and friends. May 1st - took BART to Embarcadero and then a taxi from the Hyatt to the pier. I was aware that the ship was coming almost empty from L.A. (where it had been christened), so I figure embarkation would begin rather early. We got there at 9:45am, and were on aboard in less than 10 minutes, as we were among the first to board the ship. The ship was identical to the Millennium, so we did not need any time to familiarize ourselves with the ship. When we got our cabin, we had a notice stating that the ship would now arrive at 10:00am in Juneau (as oppose to the original 8:00am), and as a result we could not make it to the dog-sled excursion in Juneau. Even though the excursion desk staff was great, they repeatedly disappointed us as several of our excursions were eventually cancelled for a variety of reasons: weather, lack of participation, outfit problems, etc.) We left San Francisco in the late afternoon - cruising under the Golden Gate was a cool experience. Soon after, the heavy seas began to develop, and that evening we endured the worst seas we had ever encountered during any of our cruises. We had never been seasick before, but that night and the next morning my wife and I were a little blue (or green). May 2nd - a day at sea. The rough seas continued, but things got better late afternoon and evening. By the way our tablemates were all elderly folk, but all very nice. The food aboard the Infinity was very good, but the service by our waiter, Amando, was outstanding. He had a great personality and he was very expedient. May 3rd - Seattle. I must say that I did not think much of this city. There's nothing special about it, other than a zillion Starbucks. We went to the Space Needle and Pike's Market on our own, and returned to the ship by early afternoon. I really think that it would help to have some outdoors excursions in this port (like going to Mt. Rainier), but the city tour is worthless. May 4th - Victoria. We really enjoyed Victoria, BC. We took a taxi to Butchard Gardens. Our taxi driver was a very personable guy and he waited for us for the return back to town from the gardens. The cab fare and admission to the Gardens was slightly cheaper than the ship's tour. For a group of four or more, a limo tour seems like a great option. We got to the Gardens, just before they opened, so we got to see and take photos with barely anyone around for the first 30 minutes. Then the tour buses arrived. The Gardens were incredible, and I strongly recommend a visit if you are in Victoria. After the Gardens, the taxi driver dropped us near the Empress hotel and the heart of the shopping district. We shopped around and had lunch (Eatons has a very nice restaurant/cafeteria on its fifth floor with a view of the town), then took a Kabuki cycle back to the ship. May 5th - a day at sea. My wife and I spent a lot of time at the spa on this day. As usual the spa personnel were great and attentive. However, spa prices are really getting out of hand on cruise ships. A 50-minute massage is now $109 plus tip. It was $99 last July on the Millennium. As a result, the spa was not very busy on this cruise. They had a lot of specials during the cruise. During the evening, we saw the production show from the ship's singers and dancers. I must say that on an overall basis this was the best group of ship performers we have seen on any of our cruises. During the cruise, we had three nights of comedy and three production shows, which was fine with us. May 6th - Sitka. On this port we had 2 excursions. During the morning we took the Nature Hike and in the afternoon we took the Bicycle ride. Getting the tendering setup took longer that anticipated, and our morning hike started late. This eliminated the time we had for lunch and shopping, as we barely made it back for the afternoon bike. Both excursions were OK, but I would not recommend doing both. Pick one and enjoy the town for the rest of your time in Sitka. The weather was cold and windy. As a matter of fact we had overcast weather with periods of rain pretty much during the entire cruise (except for Ketchikan) - but we came prepared and did not let the weather be an issue. May 7th - Our original excursion was cancelled and took our second option, which was the Pilot's Choice Helicopter Tour, which is the extended helicopter excursion with 2 landings. In the morning, the weather was bad, and this excursion was delayed for an hour. Eventually the weather improved enough to take off and so we did. The view from the helicopter was incredible as we headed towards one of the nearby glaciers. We landed on the Glacier and walked around a little. Then we took off and headed high to the top of the mountains. Our second landing was truly spectacular. We landed near the top of a snow-covered mountain near a ridge. We got out of the helicopter and had a champagne toast as we took in the breathtaking view and solitude. Unfortunately we did not stay there very long as the weather was deteriorating rapidly once again. I would high recommend that anyone taking an Alaskan cruise take at least one helicopter ride with a landing. In the afternoon, we went to town, which was tiny (pop. 800). Shopping in Alaska can be done in one port. Every port we visited had the same stuff over and over again. Even more disappointing is the fact that now the same shops you saw in every port in the Caribbean are making their war over here (Caribbean Gems, Diamonds International, for example). Ketchikan had the slightly better prices. As for Alaskan people, they were as expected - tough, rough and brutally honest. However, we found interesting that a lot of people working on the shops were college students from the lower 48 (a lot from Idaho for some reason) there for the summer. May 8th - Juneau. Our second most anticipated excursion of the trip was on this day, and the only one not cancelled of our top five. It was a once in a lifetime experience for both my wife and I. We did the Glacier Trekking excursion which involved flying by helicopter to Mendelhall glacier, landing and then spending about two hours hiking thru the glacier. We were given all the gear, including waterproof gear, boots, spikes and ice picks. Then, our guide taught us all the necessary techniques. In no time, we were exploring the glacier, jumping small crevasses, drinking water from the glacier streams, and climbing ice walls. A truly memorable experience! May 9th - Ketchikan. Our kayaking excursion was cancelled, and we did our second option: the Jeep Safari. The excursion was weak in our opinion and it was handled poorly (probably because this was the first year it was been offered). The canoe and snack portion should be eliminated and replaced with more of the Jeep. In retrospective, we should have taken one of the many other kayaking tours been offered at the pier and not the Jeep. This was the only mostly sunny day of the trip. May 10th - Cruising the Inside Passage towards Vancouver. Our last day of the cruise. It was "warm" enough for us to spend a couple of hours in our balcony in the afternoon just relaxing and watching the many islands of the inside passage go by. At this I want to acknowledge our cabin attendant, Albino, who was the best. May 11th - the end of the cruise, but not the vacation. After disembarkation, we had arranged for a rental car and drove to the town of Whistler, a 2-hour drive from Vancouver. Whistler is a ski resort town, and it was in transition between winter and summer activities when we got there. We stayed at the Westin hotel, which was terrific, specially the bed and fireplace in the room. We walked around the village in the afternoon, but called it an early evening to rest. May 12th - We arrange thru the hotel an excursion that involved driving an ATV to the snow line in the mountains and then switching to a snowmobile to reach the summit. We had never driven either of these machines, but it was not difficult to catch on. I had a great old time, but the wife was a little scared of the snowmobile so she was glad to get off. Whistler thrives on the young people from Vancouver, so it was quite a change coming from the cruise crowd to this village. What we did notice was the absence of people of our age group on both places. I guess most people our age are tied up by raising a family or financial matters in their mid-30's. Just an observation. May 13th - Back to Florida. Drove back to Vancouver and flew back home. Overall this was a great vacation. The service aboard the Infinity was first class in every possible manner. Alaska was worth the trip, however, I don't think we will be going back in the near future. We saw everything we wanted to see, even though we did not get to do everything we wanted to. I was very disappointed we did not see much wildlife, other than bald eagles. But now we look to other areas of the world for our next cruise, probably the Mediterranean next summer. Please send any questions to orraca@compuserve.com Read Less
Just back from a wonderful week away aboard the Infinity. This was my 10th cruise of various lengths and my 4th to Alaska. This was one of the best ever. From the lowest Housekeeping assistant who carts dirty linen to Maitre D's ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful week away aboard the Infinity. This was my 10th cruise of various lengths and my 4th to Alaska. This was one of the best ever. From the lowest Housekeeping assistant who carts dirty linen to Maitre D's they all can look you in the eye, smile and say "Good morning" and mean it! Food is very good to excellent. Beef dishes are great, as are all desserts tried. Lamb steak was tough but could be because they have to cook it to at least medium, might have been better Medium Rare. Our waiter Cyrel was very good, as was Nigel his Assistant. The Sommelier was a little too hasty on his pouring of glasses and could have spent five more seconds or so for tastings etc. I was in an outside cabin with large porthole, (Cat. 4) a little crowded, but comfortable. Sandi, the Room Steward was very good and always smiling and happy to act on any request. The specialty restaurant SS United States was in a couple of words Absolutely Superb! Table side preparation and service simply wonderfull. Go at least once per cruise! Best place for pre dinner drinks Rendez Vous Lounge, non smoking area, attentive service at all times. Best place for drinks on a sunny afternoon, Oceanview Cafe bar. Outside at the stern, sheltered from any wind, good place to watch the world go by! Good buffet for breakfast and lunch, good pizzas, good hotdogs, humdrum hamburgers. I do not rate a cruise ship cuisine however, by Hot Dogs and hamburgers! All in all a great week away on a top quality ship, in my top three of all times. colinmhart@shawcable.comJuly 2002 Read Less
All my partner and I wanted was a pleasant 14-night cruise with much relaxation. What we got was a 10-day cruise and extreme irritation. This is a review not only of Celebrity Cruise Line's GTS Infinity, but also of that ... Read More
All my partner and I wanted was a pleasant 14-night cruise with much relaxation. What we got was a 10-day cruise and extreme irritation. This is a review not only of Celebrity Cruise Line's GTS Infinity, but also of that ship's infamous January 19, 2003, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. The trip was to have ended on February 2 in San Diego, but, in fact, it abruptly ended January 29 in Acapulco due to engine problems. This review will detail Celebrity's treatment of the Infinity's approximately 2,000 passengers during the immediate post-cruise period. But please note: the cruise part of the trip was, as usual aboard a Celebrity ship, a very enjoyable experience. It was the "end game," so to speak, that was badly mismanaged. IN THE BEGINNING The boarding process at Ft. Lauderdale's cruise port should have provided us with some warning of what was to occur, had we been somewhat more alert and less focused on commencing our long-awaited vacation. On nearly all of our previous cruises, boarding started about 11 a.m. So after spending two pre-cruise days in Ft. Lauderdale, we arrived at the pier at 10 a.m., eager to board the ship. We joined about 200 other people already gathered in the terminal's waiting area in watching the clock move slowly toward the magic hour. But then, to everyone's dismay, Celebrity representatives started announcing that boarding would be delayed because the ship had been late in docking. By that time, there were several hundred people in the terminal area impatiently awaiting boarding. At noon, the Celebrity reps changed their explanation and said the delay was being caused by the Coast Guard, which was reportedly performing an unannounced, full-ship inspection. About 12:45 p.m., those cruise line reps announced they had no idea how long it would be before the boarding process started. It was about 1:15 p.m. when boarding suddenly, and without announcement, commenced. We later surmised the delay might have been caused by Celebrity itself, deciding whether to proceed with the cruise. Immediately after putting our carry-on items in our stateroom we went to the purser's desk (Celebrity, for some reason elects to eliminate that nautical term, calling it the "Guest Relations Desk.") to arrange for a Connect-at-Sea kit. We had just acquired a new Dell laptop computer and wanted to take advantage of the Connect-at-Sea program, which allows an Internet connection in one's stateroom -- albeit a very slow 56k connection -- for a reasonable fee. I had emailed Celebrity's special services agents a month before the cruise, asking how much they charged for Connect-at-Sea and if a telephone kit could be reserved. They replied: "Please send this request to 1-800-882-8292. Also note there is a charge of $25 per day or $100 per week." The number turned out to be a fax line, but when I called Celebrity customer relations, they said kits could not be reserved, but the rate was $150 for the full two-week sailing. However, when we talked with a woman at guest relations aboard the ship, she informed us the rate was actually only $100 for the full cruise. That should have been the second hint that Celebrity didn't quite have its act together. And subsequently we experienced much difficulty in getting the telephone kit to work -- with the ship's communication officer finally being forced to give up the attempt after a full week of continual tweaking and testing. Instead, he gave us a ship's laptop equipped with a unique coupling, and plugged us into a special ship satellite circuit. As a result of the SNAFU, we were also allowed to use the Internet Cafe without the usual 50-cent-per-minute charge. Nice, but not quite what was advertised. Incidentally, if you want to get an Internet connection in your stateroom, plan on getting to the guest relations desk as quickly as possible after boarding. Infinity (at least on the 1-19 cruise) had only 20 such kits in working order for its 2,000 passengers. I subsequently overheard -- even long before we sailed -- passengers being told there were no more kits available. And allow me to offer an aside about the terms "cabins" and "staterooms." In this day and age, either word is correct, although "cabin" is a bit more accurate in describing most rooms aboard the ship. The exceptions are the suites, which are much larger and usually have a dining area, sitting area, one or two separate bedrooms, etc. But Celebrity, we are told, instructs its employees to always use the term "stateroom" and to avoid the word "cabin." Better ambiance, I guess. INFINITY SETS SAIL - SORT OF The trip itself started a bit late, which is not unusual aboard a cruise ship. But as we sailed away from Ft. Lauderdale, my partner and I -- from our aft-facing stateroom -- observed the starboard propulsion pod kicking up a vigorous wash, while the port pod appeared inactive. We also noted that the ship was moving more slowly than is usual. We idly speculated about possible reasons for this. Silly us -- in hindsight it was obvious: the port pod was broken! The first two days at sea were very pleasant. Infinity is one of Celebrity's four newest vessels -- the line's Millennium-class ships: Millennium, Constellation, Summit and Infinity. We had cruised in January 2003 aboard Summit, but we found Infinity a bit more pleasant. The Infinity entered service in May 2001. According to the Celebrity brochure, she has a passenger capacity of 1,950, but we were later told by a Celebrity executive that 2,020 passengers sailed on this cruise. She also carries a crew of 1,000. The Infinity's size is stunning: 965-feet long, and 105-feet wide, with 12 public decks. She has a draught of 26 feet and a maximum cruising speed of 24 knots. Although all four Millennium-class vessels share the same basic deck plans, the decor aboard each is different - and, to our tastes, Infinity is a brighter and more nicely decorated ship than the Summit. However, we agree with many cruisers who are dismayed by the choice of art displayed on the Millennium-class ships. Aside from some striking and wonderful photographs displayed near the fitness center and elsewhere, we found extremely little artistic merit in most of the artwork aboard the Infinity. For example, on one pedestal in one of the ship's restaurants is a small and crude figurine of an impish half-man, half-animal, face smeared with the chocolate he is stuffing into his mouth. The figurine struck us as insulting, seeming to mock or ridicule passengers. Does this represent Celebrity's view of its dining passengers -- half animal, stuffing themselves? Infinity offers standard cruise ship attractions, including a spa, various shops, an outdoor pool, hot tubs, fitness center, movie theater, casino, etc. Independent vendors as usual, operate the casino, shops, spa and other businesses. And Apollo catering operates the food service aboard Infinity. A few words about Infinity's casino, Fortunes: it is nearly identical to the Summit's casino in appearance, name, size and payout -- nice appearance, adequate in size and with a very meager payout. In fact, many passengers aboard the Infinity, as well as when we were aboard the Summit, mentioned they were disappointed with the slot machine payouts and stopped frequenting the casino early in the cruise. One fellow commented it would probably be more fun to just throw his money overboard than to keep feeding it into the slot machines. We believe Celebrity, or the vendor operating the casino, needs to boost the percentage of payouts in order to boost business. As it was, there were so few people in the casino nightly that the facility almost routinely closed about midnight -- a far cry from the 3 a.m. or so closings in packed casinos we have experienced aboard other cruise line ships. Food service is obviously a major attraction in cruising and Infinity's passengers are offered several excellent dining alternatives. One may elect to eat nightly in the ship's two-deck restaurant, The Trellis, or at the Oceanview Restaurant, a large buffet-style facility located on an upper deck. Passengers are assigned tables in the Trellis, where they dine with the same tablemates each evening. While casual dress is always acceptable in the Oceanview, a nightly dress code applies at the Trellis. We found the Oceanview's luncheon buffet food to be of better quality than that offered aboard Summit. However, I still don't understand why buffet line servers are required to wear plastic gloves since they never change the gloves, no matter what they do. I even observed one worker shaking hands with a passenger and then going back to his food service chores without changing the glove! Obviously, the workers have no idea why they are wearing protective gloves -- and are probably surprised when illnesses spread aboard ships. Complimentary room service is provided on a 24-hour basis, but (except during lunch and dinner hours, when the dining room menu is available) the room service offerings are limited. An exception is breakfast, which may be ordered the prior evening for a specific delivery time. We never took advantage of in-cabin breakfast, but fellow passengers who did were enthusiastic about the meals. Breakfast in the dining room was of very good, but not of outstanding quality, consisting mainly of usual breakfast offerings: eggs Benedict; hash browns, sausage, hot or cold cereal, scrambled eggs, etc. The ship's alternative restaurant, The United States, levies a $25 per person diner surcharge, and reservations are required, as are jacket and tie or formal wear. But the food quality in the United States is outstanding, with static entrees that are a couple of notches above those found on the dining room menu, which changes nightly. The United States offers six-course meals that take about two and one-half hours to complete, and include a cheese course -- a comprehensive selection of various soft and hard, classic cheeses that are described by a server. (One night, after the cheese course server delivered an eloquent and flawless description of classic and exotic cheeses, I paused and asked "But you don't have Velveeta?" He stared at me for a brief second and then, trying to hide a smile, said, "No, sir, I'm sorry, but we don't." When he saw I was smiling, he laughed and walked away, chuckling.) All of the United States' servers wear tails or dinner jackets and deliver the food simultaneously to each person at a table, with many selections prepared tableside. We found it to be an extraordinary and delightful dining experience, and well worth the extra charge. In general, we found food quality, presentation and selection somewhat better aboard Infinity than we did aboard Summit - but of substantially lesser quality than found in upscale restaurants and even from what Celebrity used to serve before being purchased by Royal Caribbean. Deserving special note, however, are the deserts served in both the Trellis and at the Oceanview. They were all uniformly outstanding and covered a wide selection, including both hot and room temperature pastries, custards, cookies, cakes and pies. The high-quality ice cream available on a limited basis in the Oceanview Restaurant was also a real treat. Of particular delight among the baked deserts was a macaroon cookie of a quality not often tasted in a restaurant of any kind. We found service was generally better aboard Infinity, but that subjective observation is largely due to our waiter's attention to detail. Special orders didn't seem to bother servers as they did aboard Summit; I requested, and received without hesitation, a double shrimp cocktail as an appetizer every night at dinner. Our other requests, both to our waiter and to our stateroom steward, were also handled quickly and efficiently. And a word about shipboard entertainment: Each cruise line contracts with various production companies to produce nightly theater shows for its ships. Celebrity tends to favor lesser known performers, some of whom are excellent but most of whom struggle to reach even the level of mediocrity. Shows we've seen on other cruise lines have been more of the variety type and have been highly entertaining. But Celebrity's choice of performers -- at least during our Summit and Infinity cruises -- results in far less stellar and some not very noteworthy presentations. Infinity also offers such activities as bingo sessions, albeit with smaller jackpots than we've seen on other ships; lounge entertainers, most of whom are extremely friendly and competent; and poolside specialty bands. A small library, with very limited operating hours, is also available, as is a music-listening room. Some special, albeit sparsely attended, events were offered during the cruise, e.g., basketball free-throw competitions, table tennis "get togethers," scrabble, backgammon and other game sessions and trivia contests. WE ARRIVE IN ARUBA So, after spending a very relaxing initial two days at sea, with the outside temperature steadily rising from the chilly 40s we experienced in Ft. Lauderdale, Infinity reached its first port of call: Aruba. The ship was docked there for a rather long time, from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 12:30 a.m. Thursday, although we observed most passengers returning to the ship well before sunset. It was our second visit to Aruba and we repeated what we did the first time: we rented a four-wheel-drive car and toured the small island. As before, we found Aruba's beaches are wonderful (visit Baby Beach for some delightful snorkeling or Palm Beach for wonderful swimming) and even the desert on the western side of the island proved interesting, with a desolate landscape that includes a natural bridge and a bat cave attracting many tourists. Upon leaving Aruba, the Infinity set sail for the Panama Canal, albeit still at a reduced speed. We later learned that several technicians from Rolls Royce, which manufactured the ship's Mermaid propulsion units, boarded in Aruba and went to work trying to repair the failing port propulsion pod. AN UNUSUAL CANAL TRANSIT The day-long transit through the Panama Canal is one of the our more fascinating cruising experiences. Every passenger appeared excited as we approached the Gatun Locks, one of three sets of locks that raise the ship about 85 feet (26 meters) for its journey across man-made Gatun Lake (The floor of the lake is the Continental Divide!), and then lower it back to sea level upon reaching the Pacific Ocean. Each set of locks has two lanes, and each lane is probably no more than 12 inches wider than the Infinity. Cables attach the ship to electric engines called "mules" that operate along rails on either side of the ship. The mules help keep the vessel properly aligned, and assist in pulling the ship into and from each chamber of the lock. The ship is raised or lowered by water from Gatun Lake; gravity does all the work; there are no pumps! It is, indeed, an engineering marvel to see. This Panama Canal transit was unusual: the ship kept scraping the sides of the locks despite the fact that each ship is always under the command of a skilled Panama Canal pilot during transit. We now assume the scraping, which produced quite a bit of damage and burned paint, might have been due to the ship having to steer with only its starboard propulsion pod. [Millennium-class ships, as most modern cruise vessels, do not have rudders. The ship is "steered" by swiveling the propulsions pods and/or by using bow and stern thrusters.] During the Canal transit, a Panamanian guide delivered a commentary over the ship's closed-circuit television system that was very interesting and extremely informative. The Canal transit has become our favorite cruise and, in fact, we're booked to go through the Canal again next year! If you don't have a balcony cabin for a transit - and we highly recommend any of the six that jut out on the corners of the aft end of Celebrity's Millennium-class ships -- you will want to observe the transit from the railing on one of the decks or at the forward end of the Constellation lounge. But if you are outside during a transit and under clear skies, remember you are only a few degrees from the Equator, and your skin will quickly start to broil after only a very few minutes unless you are wearing a heavy coating of sunscreen. Wearing a cap is also advisable. AN ABRUPT END TO THE CRUISE The stop at Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, was unremarkable. San Jose, the capital, is far inland, and we found little of interest in the coastal area. Infinity was to have docked at Puntarenas, but instead made a tendered stop at Caldera. Tendered stops usually discourage some passengers, especially those who are older and less mobile, from going ashore. No explanation was given for the change, but we now assume it was due to maneuvering difficulties related to the ship's engine problems. After our stop in Costa Rica, the ship proceeded at its slower pace toward Acapulco. Shortly after arriving at that city on Wednesday morning, January 29th, we learned how serious the engine problems were. A letter signed by Captain Zissi Koskinas was delivered to each stateroom, and read over the public address system: "I regret to inform you that we are experiencing a technical difficulty within our port propulsion system. One of our bearing units in that system is not functioning properly. Because of that we have reduced our speed from 23 knots to 14.5 knots." He continued, "Our reduction in speed requires that we cancel our scheduled port call Friday in Cabo San Lucas and spend the day at sea. Also, we will arrive in San Diego one day later than scheduled..." He concluded that "as a gesture of goodwill" Celebrity would provide a $100 shipboard credit per stateroom. Reaction to the announcement was somewhat mixed, but most passengers seemed to feel the compensation was fair and almost everyone we talked with was excited that we would have an extra day on the cruise, although it did mean most passengers had to reschedule their flight plans from San Diego. My partner and I liked the fact that the extra day was to be an "at sea" day, even though the only excursion we had booked -- a snorkeling trip -- was at Cabo San Lucas. But even that was not to be. Although we were scheduled to sail from Acapulco Wednesday at 11 p.m., Captain Koskinas issued another announcement at 8 p.m.: "As you know, we have experienced technical difficulties with a bearing unit in our propulsion system. Since discovering this problem, we have had more time to examine the system and now find that the bearing shows more wear than we initially thought. Because of this development, we feel the most prudent course of action is to end our cruise in Acapulco." That announcement was met with deep disappointment by all of the passengers. A letter was dispatched to each stateroom, announcing all passengers would have to leave the ship Thursday morning. Celebrity said that except for about 500 people who were to be taken directly to the airport for morning chartered flights to San Diego, all other passengers would be given complementary accommodations at the Acapulco Princess Hotel - a first-class hotel located about an hour's bus ride from the ship. Celebrity said executives at its Miami headquarters were working to arrange additional charter flights from Acapulco to San Diego for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. CELEBRITY DROPS THE BALL And that's the point at which Celebrity - as one of its executives later termed it - "dropped the ball." What an understatement that turned out to be. Although the cruise line maintained it had flown 60 "go team" members into Acapulco to help passengers, those "go team" members - and there were obviously far fewer than 60 -- were of little help to anybody at any time. We later discovered they were simply Celebrity office workers who volunteered to be part of a "go team," and had no specific training in customer relations. Even worse, they were given no authority to do anything but relay instructions from Miami headquarters. In other words, they could not and did not help passengers with the resolution of any specific problems. A bulletin board could have given the same assistance as was provided by these Celebrity employees. And remember those 500 passengers who were taken directly from the ship to the Acapulco airport? Some were, indeed, flown to San Diego, but many others said they were kept at the airport for more than five hours before Celebrity admitted it could not arrange for any more charters that day and that the remaining passengers would be taken to the Princess Hotel. Celebrity's announcement -- which was also provided to the news media -- that all passengers were given accommodations at the Acapulco Princess Hotel, was also not true. Many passengers were instead bused to a nearby facility, the Pierre Marques, which was far inferior to the Princess. It was at that hotel we saw one passenger trying to get a "go team" member to intervene with the hotel because there was mold all over his room's walls. He was told that was a problem he had to work out himself with the hotel. Our room was so dirty and musty smelling we insisted upon transferring to the Princess, where we had been assured we would stay. But the Celebrity representatives we talked with refused to do anything, giving us that now familiar refrain that it was a problem we would have to resolve with the hotel and "anyway, the Princess is sold out." That turned out not to be true, since when I went to the Princess front desk I was able to quickly arrange for a room. But then I had to shuttle between the two hotels to facilitate the transfer and make billing arrangements. No help from Celebrity was available. Once at the Princess, we were given yet another letter, saying all passengers "will be flown to San Diego where you will be met in baggage claim by Celebrity agents and taken to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina" where accommodations were to be provided until Sunday, when passengers could take their originally scheduled flights. CELEBRITY DROPS THE BALL -- AGAIN That was yet another false statement from Celebrity. After clearing customs and immigration, we, as well as dozens of other Infinity passengers, were directed to the first bus in a long line of Celebrity-chartered vehicles at the airport and were then taken for a long, long drive. When we and other passengers finally asked the driver where we were going, it turned out we were not being taken to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, located about a mile from the airport, but to another Sheraton hotel located approximately 35 miles from the airport! When we arrived, many of the passengers aboard the various buses refused to get off, loudly demanding to be taken back to the hotel where their friends were staying and where they had been told they would be housed. A lone Celebrity representative inside the hotel, surrounded by angry passengers, kept telling people the cruise line had arranged for shuttles to take them the 35 miles back to the other hotel that evening to visit their friends. The scene was rather incredible, with people gathered in the hotel's small lobby and all yelling at the Celebrity agent. After I angrily vented my concerns and threatened to call Celebrity management officials, she took me aside and quietly advised me to get back on the bus, telling me it would take us back to the other Sheraton hotel where we would be given a room. But she asked me not to make that public, since she didn't want everyone demanding to return to the original hotel. When we got back to the Sheraton Hotel and Marina, a hotel official arranged for a room, but apologized for not having enough bellmen to immediately take care of our luggage. He said Celebrity had told him he needn't schedule extra bellman for the arriving 2,000 passengers because, said Celebrity, the passengers had been told to simply pack an overnight bag and the rest of their luggage would be stored at the hotel. Another falsehood. Neither we nor any other passengers we talked with had received such a notification. Now furious, I demanded to speak with whomever was in charge for Celebrity. "That would be Juan," said one uniformed Celebrity representative, who quickly scurried away saying she would get Juan for me. After waiting about 15 minutes and not seeing that woman reappear, I asked another Celebrity representative where I might find "Juan," She replied, "Oh, he's coming in from Los Angeles and will be here in about four or five hours." The first Celebrity agent, it seems, simply wanted to get away from an angry passenger. The other woman explained that Juan was with a group of about 200 passengers who left Acapulco for San Diego, but then, shortly after takeoff, were told they were going to Los Angeles because the San Diego airport would not let Celebrity's charter flight land that evening because of noise restrictions. The passengers were then bused back to San Diego -- and the ones we talked with were not in a very good mood when they arrived. My partner and I eventually talked with Juan -- Juan Trescastro, of Celebrity's "Total Customer Satisfaction" division -- later that evening. We detailed all that had happened since leaving the ship in Acapulco. He admitted Celebrity had repeatedly "dropped the ball" and had not functioned very efficiently, noting that was especially true in the case of the large number of elderly passengers who needed, but did not receive, special attention. He also admitted it probably would have been far more comfortable for Infinity's passengers -- as well as less expensive for the cruise line -- to have allowed passengers to remain aboard Infinity in Acapulco until the chartered flights were arranged. But he said the cruise line's marine division had been focused on getting the ship into dry dock as soon as possible. DON'T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ I had long read news stories about cruise ships that, for one reason or another, halted their trips sooner than scheduled. But the accounts I read had led me to believe the passengers were always treated extremely well by the cruise lines and were given deep discounts on future cruises. Apparently that is not always true, at least with Celebrity. The cruise line operates efficiently while at sea, but once on land -- as evidenced during this cruise -- it fell apart, not only lying to its passengers, but in failing to provide assistance when needed. Celebrity canceled several of the Infinity's subsequent cruises, offering passengers booked on those trips a full refund and a 50 percent discount off a future cruise. But passengers aboard Infinity's ill-fated Jan. 19 cruise only received a 25 percent refund and a 25 percent, per cabin, highly restrictive discount on a future cruise that had to be taken within one year -- a difficulty for passengers who had saved for the Jan. 19 cruise for much more than a year. Although we initially viewed even that compensation as fair and adequate, we soon changed our minds. Given the company's admittedly multiple bad decisions and many false statements -- and the resulting frustrations endured by the passengers -- methinks it was a woefully inadequate action. Overall, it was the most interesting cruise we have ever taken -- but more along the lines of that purported Chinese curse: "May your life be interesting." Would we again sail with Celebrity? Most definitely. In fact we have already booked a January 4, 2004, Panama Canal cruise and it will be aboard the Infinity! But if something should occur on that cruise, delivering us again unto the hands of Celebrity officials onshore... well, I would rather not contemplate such a fate. jaygibian@aol.com May 2003 Read Less
I just returned from the Infinity sailing of June 29th. These are just a few of my thoughts...my humble opinion. Cabins The best part of our trip. Upon arrival, the upgrade fairy was smiling upon us and we were upgraded from a balcony ... Read More
I just returned from the Infinity sailing of June 29th. These are just a few of my thoughts...my humble opinion. Cabins The best part of our trip. Upon arrival, the upgrade fairy was smiling upon us and we were upgraded from a balcony room to a suite adjacent to the Penthouse suite. Wow, was it beautiful. We had a HUGE bathroom...double vanity (all marble), shower and separate tub. A king size bed, TV, VCR, Remote controlled drapes, and best of all Edwin....our butler. Butler Edwin was the absolute best. He made the trip for us. He took care of all of our excursion bookings. Every day he brought us tea time snacks at 4:00, and hors-devours (sp?) at 5:30. He provided us with several bottles of Champagne. And served us a full breakfast in bed every day. He came in and set up a white table cloth and the whole bit. Also, our room service menu was different that the regular rooms. He also asked us if we had friends on board. We told him we'd met some internet friend (hi Cat and Dana) and he offered to serve champagne and such in the room one evening. He was wonderful. Food The food in the dining room was great. We had a hard time some nights deciding what to eat, so we just ordered 2 entrees. The presentation was nice and our table companions were great. The ambience in the dining room is more elegant than other ships we've cruised on. Although our waiter was very good, we've had better. He did not interact a lot with our table. He always seemed a little too busy. My only complaint about the dining room was that I felt the wine stewards were a little pushy there while the rest of the ship didn't shove the alcohol at you. SS United States All I can say is WOW. The food was terrific. Best of all was the atmosphere. Very very elegant. It is an experience not to be missed and I hope you have someone with you that knows about wines. Cat did a wonderful job picking wines for our table. We booked the restaurant for the day we were at Hubbard Glacier which I thought was perfect. It was a semi-formal night and we were done at the glacier by 2:00. Plenty of time to get ready for dinner instead of being rushed from the ports. Shows: By far the best entertainment I've seen on a cruise. There were 4 review type show and the dancers and singers were top-notch. The juggler was fair, but funny. The pianist/magician was also just fair. Lounges We did not spend a lot of time in the lounges since I quit smoking as we got on board and they were pretty smoky. We did sit in the Rendezvous lounge for a while and watch a game that was pretty cute. We also spent a little time in the Martini Bar. The Stan Duo was a little to dull for our taste. Spa: I spent one day in the spa having a massage that was one of the better one's I've had. The Thalassotherapy pool was pretty relaxing. We didn't go there until the last day since I wasn't anxious to spend 20.00 per day only to find out we could have used it free because we were in a suite. Ship The ship was beautiful. I loved all the wood and marble instead of the glitz and neon of Carnival lines. I also enjoyed the art work displayed around the boat. I was a little concerned since people were complaining about the elevators on this board, but they all worked, weren't too crowded and were pretty fast. The passage was very smooth and there was only a slight vibration in the back of the boat where our cabin was located. Excursions: We booked our tours through Celebrity just for convenience. We loved the whale watching in Juneau (although we saw more off the cruise ship than on the tour). We saw sea otters and seals as well as humpback whales on the tour. We also loved the White Train Pass in Skagway. It is too beautiful to describe. In Ketchikan, we went to the Saxman Village which was enjoyable but not comparable to the other 2 tours we did. We enjoyed shopping in the ports a lot. There were a lot of beautiful, unique things to see. And, my husband bought me a beautiful mink coat. In closing, this was one of the best vacations we've ever had. Alaska is beautiful and the Infinity was a great ship. The staff and crew were extremely friendly and courteous. We did not encounter a single "crabby" person. Being upgraded to the suite was wonderful and made the vacation extra special. If you can afford the upgrade, I would highly recommend it. It is worth the price. PS. Do not fly America West Airlines. If you want more information, let me know.caryn@bellsouth.netJuly 2001 Read Less
The following my review of the Celebrity Infinity Introduction Taking a cruise is always a guarantee to be one of the best ways you can spend vacation time so that you can be pampered, see new places and totally unwind. Taking a 14-night ... Read More
The following my review of the Celebrity Infinity Introduction Taking a cruise is always a guarantee to be one of the best ways you can spend vacation time so that you can be pampered, see new places and totally unwind. Taking a 14-night cruise ensures that the worries of the world become totally forgotten. Taking that 14-day cruise with Celebrity, I feel, ensures that you have all your dreams fulfilled, and more. Sailing on the Celebrity Infinity surpassed my dreams. Now maybe you are thinking here is a first time cruise fanatic, who is carried away with the glow of that first time experience. In fact I may not have cruised as often as many of you who report on this board. I have now taken 6 voyages on different cruise lines, and this cruise line, and this ship is difficult to beat in its class. Now I must start by saying that not everything went smoothly, and I will try and share a balanced view of my experience. Embarkation and Disembarkation First impressions are so very important as this sets the scene for your time on board. Embarkation was effortless. In fact it was the least hassle I have experienced on boarding a ship. I was fortunate enough to be traveling with a Captain's Club member. We had made sure we had completed all the paperwork before arriving at the port. We were immediately whisked through a separate door to register. There were no lines. In fact there were no lines even for the first time travelers. Everyone I spoke to on board spoke highly on this experience. An attendant, who wore white gloves, escorted us to our stateroom. Our cases arrived within 30 minutes, which was impressive. At each of the ports there was never any delay once the port had cleared the ship. The only exception that plagues all cruise ships is when passengers have to be tendered into port. I always feel that is a fun experience, as it is such a change to feel some motion from the waves. At the early stages of a port arrival where tendering is necessary, everyone assembled in the Celebrity Theater and waited for their tender number to be called. It was smooth, speedy and effortless. That short waiting time (I heard of no one having to wait for more than 30 minutes at the peak rush) is always good social time as you chat with fellow passengers in the anticipation of what the excitement and new experiences will be encountered on shore. We had to tender at two ports during this itinerary. We had a 10-minute tender ride in Panama City (Fuerto Amador) and a 15 minute tender ride in Cabo San Lucas. Disembarkation in San Diego was rapid, with a very smooth transition to buses and cabs for onward connections. Now to the one major downside, and probably the worst experience of the entire 14 days. When we arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport we had to wait for just over 2 hours for transportation to the port. Something had sadly gone wrong with the system. We had connections arranged by Celebrity as we had booked the US Air flight through the cruise line. The Company had also told us that if we did not take the transfer in Fort Lauderdale, we would have our transfer cancelled at San Diego. That, we have learned, is not true. Eventually 10 of us were bundled into an ancient minivan, with chipped paintwork and a broken fender! We had to have some of our luggage on our laps. We were squashed in like grade B sardines. Thankfully it is not a long journey. It is only a $9.00 taxi ride; you can even see the ocean terminal from parts of the airport! So think twice about whether or not you wait for the planned transfer. You can do it cheaply and speedily yourself. We did however meet a couple when we were waiting and spent some time together during the cruise. So the bad events can turn out well in the long run! I always look for the positives in life! The Stateroom We had ourselves booked in a category 1A stateroom on the Sky Deck (Deck 9). I particularly like having a cabin at the aft of a ship. Usually there are deeper balconies. Also it is very romantic when you are sailing with the wake glistening in the moonlight. Celebrity also used floodlights to illuminate the wake each night. I did manage to see in a number of the staterooms and they are all well proportioned. They are well appointed with shampoo and lotion dispensers in all the bathrooms. Each of the staterooms features a mirrored wall, which gives the impression of greater space. It is also at the end of the bed, which provides depth when you are in bed. The stateroom attendants were very accommodating to our needs. When we arrived we asked for covers for the balcony lounge chairs. They were delivered promptly. We even required an extension cable for some electrical medical equipment. That presented no problem. All stateroom attendants respond to requests immediately and with great friendliness. They are equipped with mobile phones, and when you call them from your room, they are there immediately. The Dining Rooms and Eating Areas The main dining room, The Trellis Restaurant, is a visual delight on two levels at the aft of the ship, with full-length windows, again looking over the froth made by the wake. The restaurant crew is staffed from Central America and Europe. This is the first time I have cruised and actually been totally impressed by the service provided by the assistant maitre d'. Luis, from Portugal, cared for his staff and his passengers alike. He even let our table celebrate our waiter's birthday with him. Our waiter, Juan Solis, who left the ship at the same time we did, was outstanding. The specialty restaurant, SS United States, is very pleasing in appearance and echoes the design and style of cruise line travel in the hey-day of high-speed Trans-Atlantic crossings. The kitchen is visible through a glass window and it is fascinating to watch the calm and smooth preparation of dinner by expert chefs. The buffet-style restaurant, the Oceanview Cafe, on the 10th deck was very popular. The stunning feature up here is the series of glass windows in the floors on the bay windowed sections that enable you to look down over the ocean and the lifeboats below. That is a very different sensation. Maybe this is not for the faint hearted. An alternative style dining facility is set up in the evening for those passengers who want something a little less formal in the evening. This is an option we never tried out as we enjoyed being with our table of 8 each evening in the Trellis Restaurant. We were a diverse group of 4 couples, with very different backgrounds and lifestyles and developed a strong bond throughout the voyage. In fact we did many things together, both on the ship and ashore. I am amazed at how Celebrity managed to match us so well. Many other tables reported a similar successful partnering. Great light fare is served in the Spa area. This is a place well worth visiting during the day either for a breakfast or a lunch. When you are on board for 14 days it is a welcome change to experience some food that is of high quality and light on the stomach. The fresh salmon was to die for. Celebrity is renowned for its food. The Infinity is no exception within the fleet. The menus designed by Michel Roux are delightful. The presentation is exceptional. I have dined at the 3 star Michelin Guide Waterside Restaurant in Bray, which is west of London, England. That is Michel's home base. The food in the specialty SS United States Restaurant on board matches The Waterside in both service and quality of food. It is "a must" to try at least on one evening. Some people complained about the additional $25 service charge, and never dined there. They missed a real treat. This is what cruise food and service used to be like in the glorious past of transatlantic travel 50 to 100 years ago. Try the goat cheese soufflE, and the sampler desert. The cheese board matches what you would experience in continental Europe. The wine is served with knowledge, and great care, by the sommelier. While this restaurant eclipses everything else on board, the food served in the main dining room, The Trellis Restaurant, is fabulous. We never experienced a bad meal. Every beef dish was tender and cooked to perfection. Everyone talked of the horseradish sauce as it has a fiery kick. Wonderful! The special farewell gala dinner is always looked forward to by many passengers for the serving of lobster, and the parade flaming Baked Alaska desserts held aloft by the waiters, with the assistant waiters waving napkins in the air. There was a great level of fun and camaraderie between crew and passengers. The food in the buffet area had a themed section each day, including, Thai, Italian, Indian, Chinese, etc. That was very popular among the passengers. The flavors are tempered to meet the palate of the predominately American passengers. There were only a couple occasions throughout the voyage when formal afternoon tea was served in the Trellis restaurant. That was a pity that it was only on a couple of occasions. However, it was always served in the buffet area, The Oceanview Cafe, between 4.00pm and 5.00pm. The dainty sandwiches were always welcome, to keep us going for the late seating dinner. The Cova Cafe, on deck 5, served pasties and gateaux to die for every afternoon. Indulge yourself to this free delight. The specialty coffee is served for an extra small charge in this cafe. For the person who likes snacking on fast food, pizza and burgers were always available every day. While I do not cruise to experience this type of food, I know many people crave for the familiar daily staple from home. OK, I will confess, I did try the pizza one afternoon, and it was very tasty. There of course is the ice cream and frozen yogurt bars that are open each day at no charge. Some cruise lines charge for this feature. Celebrity wisely and thankfully does not make any charge. Nice treats to indulge the sweet tooth. Soda Card. There is always a great debate on the Cruise Critic Boards about the price of drinks and alcohol onboard this ship and every other one. Celebrity has introduced a Soda Card which enables the bearer to have unlimited sodas and soda water every day for the entire voyage. The charge is $4.50 per day, and is well worth the expense. Very quickly you are recognized as a cardholder and you do not have to even ask what you want to drink it is just served! The ship usually holds any duty free alcohol brought on board until the last day when it is delivered to your stateroom. The Entertainment. The production shows are among the best at sea. A new one was "premiered" during this voyage. Over the two weeks there were 4 "big west-end style" production shows. The costume changes were constant, and the action was tireless. The stage facilities are fully used. The stage was risen and lowered in sections. It also has a revolving feature. Every night, as with most cruise lines in this class, entertainers appeared on stage. They are chosen to cater for all tastes. The mix of acts was well chosen, but is not the same from one voyage to the next. A couple of acts were not to my liking. What I liked was less popular with others. However, overall, the entertainment was great. The weak link was the Cruise Director. He never allowed his personality to shine through. I always believe this is one of the most important people on board. He has two roles to play. The first is the management and administration associated with ensuring all entertainment is planned and staffed. That Mr. Fluke did well. The second is to be the "party host." He does not come across as having the personality for this, and as a result, I think the cruise line has lost a little of the sparkle it could have. The theater is one of the finest afloat. It is a very pleasing design, with the often-reported dancing flames in the walls. It is large enough to cater to the needs of the passengers. I never saw it crammed to capacity. Overall it is very comfortable. Waiters are always at hand to serve drinks. There is also a compact cinema showing recently run films. My Big Fat Greek Wedding kept being rerun as passengers went to get second doses of this piece of froth. Maybe the fact that the staff on board is Greek, including the captain, encouraged this film being shown as often as it did. Napkin folding, cards, cookery demonstrations, shuffleboard, trivia quizzes, karaoke and all the usual cruise activities were listed in abundance. There were a couple of speakers on board who gave educational lectures on ports of call and self-improvement. This is a welcome change from the inevitable shopping lectures. The Facilities. The Infinity certainly has many public areas, enough to meet the needs of any traveler. The lounges are all large with comfortable seating and plenty of tables. The 3 main lounges are the Rendezvous, Champagne and Constellation. Each of these has one or more bars. The Rendezvous Lounge has a Martini Bar and has a dance floor that was popular before and after dinner where the Black and White Duo can be heard on most evenings. The Constellation Lounge features glass all the way around and is on the 11th deck. It is forward and sited immediately under the ship's bridge. As a result, it serves as a great sightseeing location. Constellation is used for the Captains cocktail parties as well as a regular Disco in the evenings. Other inside lounge areas include the Words, Notes, the Conservatory, Computer Lab, Cova Cafe, Deck 4 Game tables and of course the Casino. Words is the library which boasts an adequate number of books. Notes is a sadly underused music library. It has a selection for everyone, and is comfortably situated next to the Constellation Lounge. The computer lab has a number of computers but the price is a little high. For the use of any application you have to pay $.50 (fifty cent) per minute. Of course, Internet access is available for the same price, so for those that cannot get away for the entire cruise, you can get access. We were told the speed of the connection varied anywhere from 44K to 115K. You can buy access in your stateroom for the duration of the voyage. That is one of the great advances to meet the needs of the modern world. Personally, I am only too delighted to escape Internet access when I am on vacation, so we did not make any attempt to use this facility. Outside. Infinity of course has a pool desk. The pool deck on Infinity is quite large and offers pools and hot tubs and has a large amount of deck chairs. There are also lounge chairs on Deck 11 and Deck 5. In addition to the outside Deck chairs, there are covered areas in the Spa for lounge chairs. This was a very popular spot each day. As mentioned earlier, Infinity has two theatres. The Celebrity Theatre is where the onboard entertainment performs. This is a terrific theater. There is also the Cinema that plays recent movies. Both rooms have very good seating; however, the Cinema can fill up quickly if the movie of the day is popular (ie My Big Fat Greek Wedding).The infinity boasts one of the largest shopping areas at sea. The Emporium is a great magnet to passengers when the ship is at sea. Special offers change most days and include the ever popular "Inch of Gold", loose gems stones, t-shirts, $10 watches, and so on. The buying frenzy never seemed to wane. Next door is the Art Gallery, with its dedicated auction area. This always generated loads of interest, and I will confess that we both fell for its lure, and had great fun buying a number of great pieces of art at good discount prices based to that charged by galleries on land. Jennifer, the auctioneer, had arrived on board the same time as we did. She added great sparkle to the auctions. Fun was had by all. The Ports of Call and Organized Tours. This Cruise did not have many ports of call for the 14 night itinerary. This was great for us. We visited Aruba, Panama Canal, Panama City, Costa Rica, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. The ship departed from Ft. Lauderdale and sailed to San Diego. Aruba. Aruba is a desert island just North of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. The official language of Aruba is Dutch but most of the residents speak English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento. Papiamento is a native language that combines words from all the above plus German and French. The Island enjoys a prevailing wind out of the Northwest therefore the western side of the Island has very calm seas while the North and Eastern side of the Island has rougher seas. The island is very small measuring only 19 miles by 6 miles, with a resident population under 100K. There are a few things to see on the Island including the Eastern Shore with the pounding surf, the butterfly farm and the Natural Bridge. Golfers will also find a "desert" course in Aruba. For those that play or watch golf, the course looks a lot like the Legends course in Arizona. Of course there are water activities available such as fishing, snorkeling and diving. Like most Caribbean ports of call, shopping is a popular attraction. Aruba has nice shops with competitive prices. Panama Canal. One of the most amazing engineering achievements of the 20th century, the Panama Canal is an amazing sight. Knowing the history of the canal certainly adds to the 9 hour voyage from the Caribbean to the Pacific. I would suggest reading the book "A Path Between the Seas" by David McCullough for a terrific history of the canal. Of course, there will likely be a lecture on board the ship the day before you transit. During our Transit, someone from the Panama Canal Zone, boarded the ship and gave commentary as we made the voyage. Panama City. The Infinity anchored just off Fort Amador for a few hours after the Panama Canal transit. Those who wanted were able to do a quick tour to Panama City. Organized tours were offered via coach while other did a taxi tour on their own. The ship offered tenders to go ashore where there were a multitude of shops within 500 feet of where the tender let us off. The "government" official at the pier who personally greeted each passenger with a handshake as they arrived particularly impressed me. Costa Rica. The Infinity actually docked in Caldera rather than Puntarenas. We were never told why this occurred, but we do know there was another ship already docked in Puntarenas. Both Puntarenas and Caldera are quite a long distance from any area for tours. There are a number of tours offered in Costa Rica and all of them require at least 3 hours of transportation. For the volcano tour, you'll be traveling for 8 hours. We actually took the volcano tour and did get to see a lot of the countryside including terrific vistas of San Jose and neighboring cities. We also saw the numerous coffee plantations found below 5000' elevation. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Poas volcano, the clouds came and we did not see much more than.... clouds. Our tour guide informed us that only 10% of all the visitors to the Volcano actually are lucky enough to see the crater. Oh well, some you win...... We got great pictures by visiting www.webshots.com and so have seen where we were! As part of the volcano tour we also received lunch at a local "restaurant". The facility was very nice and offered an impressive buffet lunch along with a fair sized area with nice arts and crafts and other knickknacks popular with tourists. The last stop on the tour was the town of Sarchi which is the town famous for its colorful painted Ox carts. The town offers some decent shopping for tourists and plenty of photo opportunities. There were other tours available including river rafting, San Jose City tour and horseback riding. Acapulco. Tourists are definitely targeted in Acapulco. The minute you leave the cruise ship terminal, there are people trying to sell to you. Most of the people try to sell fake silver. It can be quite fun bargaining but you'll need to be careful. Never pay more than $10 for any of these items, even though starting prices can be as high as $50. Many bracelets can be purchased for $1 to $2. Do not be fooled. Unfortunately many passengers were. Of course, there are shopping tours and tours to see the cliff divers as well as other highlights of the city. Shopping in the flea markets is only a short walk from the pier but be cautious. Never pay the price suggested by the vendor. You can at least get it for half. If you buy a number of items make it a package deal. Start low and be prepared to walk away if you don't like the price. There are good bargains in Acapulco; however, you have to look for them. While we were there, we took a boat tour with locals for $6/person. That boat left from a pier next to the Cruise Terminal. There was plenty of room available and it was a great buy. The tour was about 3 hours and included a stop at an island for swimming. It was quite hokey but lots of fun. Cabo San Lucas. The ship could not dock at Cabo so we had to use tenders to go to shore. The tender ride was approximately 15 minutes and was relatively smooth. There is a lot of shopping in Cabo San Lucas but the prices are not as competitive as Acapulco. This is certainly a more "touristy" town and they are looking to make some money. Cabo is a bit more upscale than Acapulco, and is idyllic. There is a shopping are where the tender drops you off. There prices are a bit high and they do not negotiate as much as in Acapulco. Like Acapulco, there are kids selling stuff on the streets. There are not as many as in Acapulco, but they are present. A short walk from the docks, you can find the town where there are a number of hotels and shops. You can also find some bars and eateries in this area. This is a beach resort with not real tourist sights. Make use of the seaside fun. We did some parasailing in the bay, flying high above the infinity. This is not for the faint hearted. Cruise Critic Party. In October 2002, Celebrity and RCL introduced Cruise Critic Parties (you can enroll directly from the cruise line web page). We enrolled for one on this cruise and ended up having 32 sign up. This passed the magic 25 required to ensure the ship hosted the party. Celebrity sent me 2 emails confirming the arrangements and saying that we would be told the time and location of the party on the night we arrived on board. Two nights went by and there was no word. So I decided to ask at the Guest Relations desk. I was told that "Head Office" had informed them there was not the required minimum number, and that the party was not to be held. I spoke with the Social Hostess, the delightful and helpful Annali, as well as the Hotel Manager. After a couple of emails they sorted the misunderstanding up and the party was held on the 4th day. It was a simple event, with coffee and pastries. Annali attended, and I publicly thanked her on behalf of the group. The gathering lasted for about 90 minutes and afterwards we kept bumping into and chatting with the others throughout the remainder of the cruise. We also kept meeting the Social Hostess throughout the rest of the voyage and she was most helpful to us for many other things. She is a great ambassador for the company. If you have any problems and she is still on board, have a chat with her. The Spa. The spa on Infinity is fantastic. The spa offers the usual services for hair, facial, massage, and alternative therapies like Aroma, Stone and Light. The spa also has a wonderful gym with new equipment as well as an aerobics floor. There is an indoor pool, hot tub and saunas available as well. The sauna has an observation window looking out to sea. This is a novel feature. Socially, this was a good way to meet others. You can also find light meals in the spa area. Breakfast and Lunch are available most days. Another nice feature of the spa is the covered lounge chairs. These were very popular among passengers. The Parties. There were a number of parties aboard during our 14 days. Some of the parties were private parties like the Captain's Club cocktail party while others were public parties. The larger private parties were held in the Constellation Lounge on the 11th deck. The public parties were usually held out by the pool although the 50'/60's sock-hop was in the Constellation Lounge. The private parties were generally cocktail parties where alcohol and canapEs and gourmet bites were offered. The public parties were theme parties held by the pool. These events usually coincided with a midnight buffet that shared the theme. For island night, where everyone was wearing silly "Island" shirts, the food was "Island" food. There was also a Tex-Mex night where the food was Mexican and BBQ. The ship band Xtasea handled the entertainment for all the parties. The Medical Facility. This is something neither of us had to use. It is based on Deck 2. We did know of a number of our fellow passengers who made visits to the nurse because of minor ailments. They all spoke highly of the service. Unfortunately a couple of crew and passengers had to be taken off the ship. The evening after we left Cabo san Lucas, a passenger became gravely ill and was airlifted off the ship by the US coast guard helicopter the following morning. The service is good. That is important as with a ship carrying 2,000 passengers plus crew, these events do happen from time to time. Summary. This was a terrific cruise. Everyone on board had lots of fun. There was plenty of time to unwind from the daily grind. There were an abundant number of days as sea, which is to our liking. The ports of call were fun. The Infinity is a beautiful ship and Celebrity provides a great product. The cruise life lives up to its billing. The service was wonderful. The food was outstanding, especially in the SS United States. The people on board, both the passengers and crew were a delight. The photography studio crew provides memories through the many hundreds of pictures that they take of passengers throughout the voyage. The one feature that was a little unusual was the fact that a video was taken throughout the cruise, featuring the passengers and the events. It was premiered on the last night and was available for sale. A nice memory to take home for many. When is the next cruise? I do not want to be unkind to other cruise lines, in mentioning them by name. I can say that Celebrity outshines all the mid range lines. Their advertising campaign lives up to the reality. If in doubt book a cruise on the Infinity. davidggoodall@yahoo.com February 2003 Read Less
All my partner and I wanted was a pleasant 14-night cruise with much relaxation. What we got was a 10-day cruise and extreme irritation. This is a review not only of Celebrity Cruise Line's GTS Infinity, but also of that ... Read More
All my partner and I wanted was a pleasant 14-night cruise with much relaxation. What we got was a 10-day cruise and extreme irritation. This is a review not only of Celebrity Cruise Line's GTS Infinity, but also of that ship's infamous January 19, 2003, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. The trip was to have ended on February 2 in San Diego, but, in fact, it abruptly ended January 29 in Acapulco due to engine problems. This review will detail Celebrity's treatment of the Infinity's approximately 2,000 passengers during the immediate post-cruise period. But please note: the cruise part of the trip was, as usual aboard a Celebrity ship, a very enjoyable experience. It was the "end game," so to speak, that was badly mismanaged. IN THE BEGINNING The boarding process at Ft. Lauderdale's cruise port should have provided us with some warning of what was to occur, had we been somewhat more alert and less focused on commencing our long-awaited vacation. On nearly all of our previous cruises, boarding started about 11 a.m. So after spending two pre-cruise days in Ft. Lauderdale, we arrived at the pier at 10 a.m., eager to board the ship. We joined about 200 other people already gathered in the terminal's waiting area in watching the clock move slowly toward the magic hour. But then, to everyone's dismay, Celebrity representatives started announcing that boarding would be delayed because the ship had been late in docking. By that time, there were several hundred people in the terminal area impatiently awaiting boarding. At noon, the Celebrity reps changed their explanation and said the delay was being caused by the Coast Guard, which was reportedly performing an unannounced, full-ship inspection. About 12:45 p.m., those cruise line reps announced they had no idea how long it would be before the boarding process started. It was about 1:15 p.m. when boarding suddenly, and without announcement, commenced. We later surmised the delay might have been caused by Celebrity itself, deciding whether to proceed with the cruise. Immediately after putting our carry-on items in our stateroom we went to the purser's desk (Celebrity, for some reason elects to eliminate that nautical term, calling it the "Guest Relations Desk.") to arrange for a Connect-at-Sea kit. We had just acquired a new Dell laptop computer and wanted to take advantage of the Connect-at-Sea program, which allows an Internet connection in one's stateroom -- albeit a very slow 56k connection -- for a reasonable fee. I had emailed Celebrity's special services agents a month before the cruise, asking how much they charged for Connect-at-Sea and if a telephone kit could be reserved. They replied: "Please send this request to 1-800-882-8292. Also note there is a charge of $25 per day or $100 per week." The number turned out to be a fax line, but when I called Celebrity customer relations, they said kits could not be reserved, but the rate was $150 for the full two-week sailing. However, when we talked with a woman at guest relations aboard the ship, she informed us the rate was actually only $100 for the full cruise. That should have been the second hint that Celebrity didn't quite have its act together. And subsequently we experienced much difficulty in getting the telephone kit to work -- with the ship's communication officer finally being forced to give up the attempt after a full week of continual tweaking and testing. Instead, he gave us a ship's laptop equipped with a unique coupling, and plugged us into a special ship satellite circuit. As a result of the SNAFU, we were also allowed to use the Internet Cafe without the usual 50-cent-per-minute charge. Nice, but not quite what was advertised. Incidentally, if you want to get an Internet connection in your stateroom, plan on getting to the guest relations desk as quickly as possible after boarding. Infinity (at least on the 1-19 cruise) had only 20 such kits in working order for its 2,000 passengers. I subsequently overheard -- even long before we sailed -- passengers being told there were no more kits available. And allow me to offer an aside about the terms "cabins" and "staterooms." In this day and age, either word is correct, although "cabin" is a bit more accurate in describing most rooms aboard the ship. The exception are the suites, which are much larger and usually have a dining area, sitting area, one or two separate bedrooms, etc. But Celebrity, we are told, instructs its employees to always use the term "stateroom" and to avoid the word "cabin." Better ambiance, I guess. INFINITY SETS SAIL - SORT OF The trip itself started a bit late, which is not unusual aboard a cruise ship. But as we sailed away from Ft. Lauderdale, my partner and I -- from our aft-facing stateroom -- observed the starboard propulsion pod kicking up a vigorous wash, while the port pod appeared inactive. We also noted that the ship was moving more slowly than is usual. We idly speculated about possible reasons for this. Silly us -- in hindsight it was obvious: the port pod was broken! The first two days at sea were very pleasant. Infinity is one of Celebrity's four newest vessels -- the line's Millennium-class ships: Millennium, Constellation, Summit and Infinity. We had cruised in January 2003 aboard Summit, but we found Infinity a bit more pleasant. The Infinity entered service in May 2001. According to the Celebrity brochure, she has a passenger capacity of 1,950, but we were later told by a Celebrity executive that 2,020 passengers sailed on this cruise. She also carries a crew of 1,000. The Infinity's size is stunning: 965-feet long, and 105-feet wide, with 12 public decks. She has a draught of 26 feet and a maximum cruising speed of 24 knots, Although all four Millennium-class vessels share the same basic deck plans, the decor aboard each is different - and, to our tastes, Infinity is a brighter and more nicely decorated ship than the Summit. However, we agree with many cruisers who are dismayed by the choice of art displayed on the Millennium-class ships. Aside from some striking and wonderful photographs displayed near the fitness center and elsewhere, we found extremely little artistic merit in most of the artwork aboard the Infinity. For example, on one pedestal in one of the ship's restaurants is a small and crude figurine of an impish half-man, half-animal, face smeared with the chocolate he is stuffing into his mouth. The figurine struck us as insulting, seeming to mock or ridicule passengers. Does this represent Celebrity's view of its dining passengers -- half animal, stuffing themselves? Infinity offers standard cruise ship attractions, including a spa, various shops, an outdoor pool, hot tubs, fitness center, movie theater, casino, etc. Independent vendors as usual, operate the casino, shops, spa and other businesses. And Apollo catering operates the food service aboard Infinity. A few words about Infinity's casino, Fortunes: it is nearly identical to the Summit's casino in appearance, name, size and payout -- nice appearance, adequate in size and with a very meager payout. In fact, many passengers aboard the Infinity, as well as when we were aboard the Summit, mentioned they were disappointed with the slot machine payouts and stopped frequenting the casino early in the cruise. One fellow commented it would probably be more fun to just throw his money overboard than to keep feeding it into the slot machines. We believe Celebrity, or the vendor operating the casino, needs to boost the percentage of payouts in order to boost business. As it was, there were so few people in the casino nightly that the facility almost routinely closed about midnight -- a far cry from the 3 a.m. or so closings in packed casinos we have experienced aboard other cruise line ships. Food service is obviously a major attraction in cruising and Infinity's passengers are offered several excellent dining alternatives. One may elect to eat nightly in the ship's two-deck restaurant, The Trellis, or at the Oceanview Restaurant, a large buffet-style facility located on an upper deck. Passengers are assigned tables in the Trellis, where they dine with the same tablemates each evening. While casual dress is always acceptable in the Oceanview, a nightly dress code applies at the Trellis. We found the Oceanview's luncheon buffet food to be of better quality than that offered aboard Summit. However, I still don't understand why buffet line servers are required to wear plastic gloves since they never change the gloves, no matter what they do. I even observed one worker shaking hands with a passenger and then going back to his food service chores without changing the glove! Obviously, the workers have no idea why they are wearing protective gloves -- and are probably surprised when illnesses spread aboard ships. Complimentary room service is provided on a 24-hour basis, but (except during lunch and dinner hours, when the dining room menu is available) the room service offerings are limited. An exception is breakfast, which may be ordered the prior evening for a specific delivery time. We never took advantage of in-cabin breakfast, but fellow passengers who did were enthusiastic about the meals. Breakfast in the dining room was of very good, but not of outstanding quality, consisting mainly of usual breakfast offerings: eggs Benedict; hash browns, sausage, hot or cold cereal, scrambled eggs, etc. The ship's alternative restaurant, The United States, levies a $25 per person diner surcharge, and reservations are required, as are jacket and tie or formal wear. But the food quality in the United States is outstanding, with static entrees that are a couple of notches above those found on the dining room menu, which changes nightly. The United States offers six-course meals that take about two and one-half hours to complete, and include a cheese course -- a comprehensive selection of various soft and hard, classic cheeses that are described by a server. (One night, after the cheese course server delivered an eloquent and flawless description of classic and exotic cheeses, I paused and asked "But you don't have Velveeta?" He stared at me for a brief second and then, trying to hide a smile, said, "No, sir, I'm sorry, but we don't." When he saw I was smiling, he laughed and walked away, chuckling.) All of the United States' servers wear tails or dinner jackets and deliver the food simultaneously to each person at a table, with many selections prepared tableside. We found it to be an extraordinary and delightful dining experience, and well worth the extra charge. In general, we found food quality, presentation and selection somewhat better aboard Infinity than we did aboard Summit - but of substantially lesser quality than found in upscale restaurants and even from what Celebrity used to serve before being purchased by Royal Caribbean. Deserving special note, however, are the deserts served in both the Trellis and at the Oceanview. They were all uniformly outstanding and covered a wide selection, including both hot and room temperature pastries, custards, cookies, cakes and pies. The high-quality ice cream available on a limited basis in the Oceanview Restaurant was also a real treat. Of particular delight among the baked deserts was a macaroon cookie of a quality not often tasted in a restaurant of any kind. We found service was generally better aboard Infinity, but that subjective observation is largely due to our waiter's attention to detail. Special orders didn't seem to bother servers as they did aboard Summit; I requested, and received without hesitation, a double shrimp cocktail as an appetizer every night at dinner. Our other requests, both to our waiter and to our stateroom steward, were also handled quickly and efficiently. And a word about shipboard entertainment: Each cruise line contracts with various production companies to produce nightly theater shows for its ships. Celebrity tends to favor lesser known performers, some of whom are excellent but most of whom struggle to reach even the level of mediocrity. Shows we've seen on other cruise lines have been more of the variety type and have been highly entertaining. But Celebrity's choice of performers -- at least during our Summit and Infinity cruises -- results in far less stellar and some not very noteworthy presentations. Infinity also offers such activities as bingo sessions, albeit with smaller jackpots than we've seen on other ships; lounge entertainers, most of whom are extremely friendly and competent; and poolside specialty bands. A small library, with very limited operating hours, is also available, as is a music-listening room. Some special, albeit sparsely attended, events were offered during the cruise, e.g., basketball free-throw competitions, table tennis "get togethers," scrabble, backgammon and other game sessions and trivia contests. WE ARRIVE IN ARUBA So, after spending a very relaxing initial two days at sea, with the outside temperature steadily rising from the chilly 40s we experienced in Ft. Lauderdale, Infinity reached its first port of call: Aruba. The ship was docked there for a rather long time, from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 12:30 a.m. Thursday, although we observed most passengers returning to the ship well before sunset. It was our second visit to Aruba and we repeated what we did the first time: we rented a four-wheel-drive car and toured the small island. As before, we found Aruba's beaches are wonderful (visit Baby Beach for some delightful snorkeling or Palm Beach for wonderful swimming) and even the desert on the western side of the island proved interesting, with a desolate landscape that includes a natural bridge and a bat cave attracting many tourists. Upon leaving Aruba, the Infinity set sail for the Panama Canal, albeit still at a reduced speed. We later learned that several technicians from Rolls Royce, which manufactured the ship's Mermaid propulsion units, boarded in Aruba and went to work trying to repair the failing port propulsion pod. AN UNUSUAL CANAL TRANSIT The day-long transit through the Panama Canal is one of the our more fascinating cruising experiences. Every passenger appeared excited as we approached the Gatun Locks, one of three sets of locks that raise the ship about 85 feet (26 meters) for its journey across man-made Gatun Lake (The floor of the lake is the Continental Divide!), and then lower it back to sea level upon reaching the Pacific Ocean. Each set of locks has two lanes, and each lane is probably no more than 12 inches wider than the Infinity. Cables attach the ship to electric engines called "mules" that operate along rails on either side of the ship. The mules help keep the vessel properly aligned, and assist in pulling the ship into and from each chamber of the lock. The ship is raised or lowered by water from Gatun Lake; gravity does all the work; there are no pumps! It is, indeed, an engineering marvel to see. This Panama Canal transit was unusual: the ship kept scraping the sides of the locks despite the fact that each ship is always under the command of a skilled Panama Canal pilot during transit. We now assume the scraping, which produced quite a bit of damage and burned paint, might have been due to the ship having to steer with only its starboard propulsion pod. [Millennium-class ships, as most modern cruise vessels, do not have rudders. The ship is "steered" by swiveling the propulsions pods and/or by using bow and stern thrusters.] During the Canal transit, a Panamanian guide delivered a commentary over the ship's closed-circuit television system that was very interesting and extremely informative. The Canal transit has become our favorite cruise and, in fact, we're booked to go through the Canal again next year! If you don't have a balcony cabin for a transit - and we highly recommend any of the six that jut out on the corners of the aft end of Celebrity's Millennium-class ships -- you will want to observe the transit from the railing on one of the decks or at the forward end of the Constellation lounge, But if you are outside during a transit and under clear skies, remember you are only a few degrees from the Equator, and your skin will quickly start to broil after only a very few minutes unless you are wearing a heavy coating of sunscreen. Wearing a cap is also advisable. AN ABRUPT END TO THE CRUISE The stop at Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, was unremarkable. San Jose, the capital, is far inland, and we found little of interest in the coastal area. Infinity was to have docked at Puntarenas, but instead made a tendered stop at Caldera. Tendered stops usually discourage some passengers, especially those who are older and less mobile, from going ashore. No explanation was given for the change, but we now assume it was due to maneuvering difficulties related to the ship's engine problems. After our stop in Costa Rica, the ship proceeded at its slower pace toward Acapulco. Shortly after arriving at that city on Wednesday morning, January 29th, we learned how serious the engine problems were. A letter signed by Captain Zissi Koskinas was delivered to each stateroom, and read over the public address system: "I regret to inform you that we are experiencing a technical difficulty within our port propulsion system. One of our bearing units in that system is not functioning properly. Because of that we have reduced our speed from 23 knots to 14.5 knots." He continued, "Our reduction in speed requires that we cancel our scheduled port call Friday in Cabo San Lucas and spend the day at sea. Also, we will arrive in San Diego one day later than scheduled..." He concluded that "as a gesture of goodwill" Celebrity would provide a $100 shipboard credit per stateroom. Reaction to the announcement was somewhat mixed, but most passengers seemed to feel the compensation was fair and almost everyone we talked with was excited that we would have an extra day on the cruise, although it did mean most passengers had to reschedule their flight plans from San Diego. My partner and I liked the fact that the extra day was to be an "at sea" day, even though the only excursion we had booked -- a snorkeling trip -- was at Cabo San Lucas. But even that was not to be. Although we were scheduled to sail from Acapulco Wednesday at 11 p.m., Captain Koskinas issued another announcement at 8 p.m.: "As you know, we have experienced technical difficulties with a bearing unit in our propulsion system. Since discovering this problem, we have had more time to examine the system and now find that the bearing shows more wear than we initially thought. Because of this development, we feel the most prudent course of action is to end our cruise in Acapulco." That announcement was met with deep disappointment by all of the passengers. A letter was dispatched to each stateroom, announcing all passengers would have to leave the ship Thursday morning. Celebrity said that except for about 500 people who were to be taken directly to the airport for morning chartered flights to San Diego, all other passengers would be given complementary accommodations at the Acapulco Princess Hotel - a first-class hotel located about an hour's bus ride from the ship. Celebrity said executives at its Miami headquarters were working to arrange additional charter flights from Acapulco to San Diego for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. CELEBRITY DROPS THE BALL And that's the point at which Celebrity - as one of its executives later termed it - "dropped the ball." What an understatement that turned out to be. Although the cruise line maintained it had flown 60 "go team" members into Acapulco to help passengers, those "go team" members - and there were obviously far fewer than 60 -- were of little help to anybody at any time. We later discovered they were simply Celebrity office workers who volunteered to be part of a "go team," and had no specific training in customer relations. Even worse, they were given no authority to do anything but relay instructions from Miami headquarters. In other words, they could not and did not help passengers with the resolution of any specific problems. A bulletin board could have given the same assistance as was provided by these Celebrity employees. And remember those 500 passengers who were taken directly from the ship to the Acapulco airport? Some were, indeed, flown to San Diego, but many others said they were kept at the airport for more than five hours before Celebrity admitted it could not arrange for any more charters that day and that the remaining passengers would be taken to the Princess Hotel. Celebrity's announcement -- which was also provided to the news media -- that all passengers were given accommodations at the Acapulco Princess Hotel, was also not true. Many passengers were instead bused to a nearby facility, the Pierre Marques, which was far inferior to the Princess. It was at that hotel we saw one passenger trying to get a "go team" member to intervene with the hotel because there was mold all over his room's walls. He was told that was a problem he had to work out himself with the hotel. Our room was so dirty and musty smelling we insisted upon transferring to the Princess, where we had been assured we would stay. But the Celebrity representatives we talked with refused to do anything, giving us that now familiar refrain that it was a problem we would have to resolve with the hotel and "anyway, the Princess is sold out." That turned out not to be true, since when I went to the Princess front desk I was able to quickly arrange for a room. But then I had to shuttle between the two hotels to facilitate the transfer and make billing arrangements. No help from Celebrity was available. Once at the Princess, we were given yet another letter, saying all passengers "will be flown to San Diego where you will be met in baggage claim by Celebrity agents and taken to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina" where accommodations were to be provided until Sunday, when passengers could take their originally scheduled flights. CELEBRITY DROPS THE BALL -- AGAIN That was yet another false statement from Celebrity. After clearing customs and immigration, we, as well as dozens of other Infinity passengers, were directed to the first bus in a long line of Celebrity-chartered vehicles at the airport and were then taken for a long, long drive. When we and other passengers finally asked the driver where we were going, it turned out we were not being taken to the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, located about a mile from the airport, but to another Sheraton hotel located approximately 35 miles from the airport! When we arrived, many of the passengers aboard the various buses refused to get off, loudly demanding to be taken back to the hotel where their friends were staying and where they had been told they would be housed. A lone Celebrity representative inside the hotel, surrounded by angry passengers, kept telling people the cruise line had arranged for shuttles to take them the 35 miles back to the other hotel that evening to visit their friends. The scene was rather incredible, with people gathered in the hotel's small lobby and all yelling at the Celebrity agent. After I angrily vented my concerns and threatened to call Celebrity management officials, she took me aside and quietly advised me to get back on the bus, telling me it would take us back to the other Sheraton hotel where we would be given a room. But she asked me not to make that public, since she didn't want everyone demanding to return to the original hotel. When we got back to the Sheraton Hotel and Marina, a hotel official arranged for a room, but apologized for not having enough bellmen to immediately take care of our luggage. He said Celebrity had told him he needn't schedule extra bellman for the arriving 2,000 passengers because, said Celebrity, the passengers had been told to simply pack an overnight bag and the rest of their luggage would be stored at the hotel. Another falsehood. Neither we nor any other passengers we talked with had received such a notification. Now furious, I demanded to speak with whomever was in charge for Celebrity. "That would be Juan," said one uniformed Celebrity representative, who quickly scurried away saying she would get Juan for me. After waiting about 15 minutes and not seeing that woman reappear, I asked another Celebrity representative where I might find "Juan," She replied, "Oh, he's coming in from Los Angeles and will be here in about four or five hours." The first Celebrity agent, it seems, simply wanted to get away from an angry passenger. The other woman explained that Juan was with a group of about 200 passengers who left Acapulco for San Diego, but then, shortly after takeoff, were told they were going to Los Angeles because the San Diego airport would not let Celebrity's charter flight land that evening because of noise restrictions. The passengers were then bused back to San Diego -- and the ones we talked with were not in a very good mood when they arrived. My partner and I eventually talked with Juan -- Juan Trescastro, of Celebrity's "Total Customer Satisfaction" division -- later that evening. We detailed all that had happened since leaving the ship in Acapulco. He admitted Celebrity had repeatedly "dropped the ball" and had not functioned very efficiently, noting that was especially true in the case of the large number of elderly passengers who needed, but did not receive, special attention. He also admitted it probably would have been far more comfortable for Infinity's passengers -- as well as less expensive for the cruise line -- to have allowed passengers to remain aboard Infinity in Acapulco until the chartered flights were arranged. But he said the cruise line's marine division had been focused on getting the ship into dry dock as soon as possible. DON'T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ I had long read news stories about cruise ships that, for one reason or another, halted their trips sooner than scheduled. But the accounts I read had led me to believe the passengers were always treated extremely well by the cruise lines and were given deep discounts on future cruises. Apparently that is not always true, at least with Celebrity. The cruise line operates efficiently while at sea, but once on land -- as evidenced during this cruise -- it fell apart, not only lying to its passengers, but in failing to provide assistance when needed. Celebrity canceled several of the Infinity's subsequent cruises, offering passengers booked on those trips a full refund and a 50 percent discount off a future cruise. But passengers aboard Infinity's ill-fated Jan. 19 cruise only received a 25 percent refund and a 25 percent, per cabin, highly restrictive discount on a future cruise that had to be taken within one year -- a difficulty for passengers who had saved for the Jan. 19 cruise for much more than a year. Although we initially viewed even that compensation as fair and adequate, we soon changed our minds. Given the company's admittedly multiple bad decisions and many false statements -- and the resulting frustrations endured by the passengers -- methinks it was a woefully inadequate action. Overall, it was the most interesting cruise we have ever taken -- but more along the lines of that purported Chinese curse: "May your life be interesting." Would we again sail with Celebrity? Most definitely. In fact we have already booked a January 4, 2004, Panama Canal cruise and it will be aboard the Infinity! But if something should occur on that cruise, delivering us again unto the hands of Celebrity officials onshore... well, I would rather not contemplate such a fate.jaygibian@aol.comMarch 2003 Read Less
Alaska Inside Passage I will begin by saying this was the best cruise I have ever been on - and that is saying something. So any negative comments that follow are negligible and just meant for constructive comment. EMBARKATION ... Read More
Alaska Inside Passage I will begin by saying this was the best cruise I have ever been on - and that is saying something. So any negative comments that follow are negligible and just meant for constructive comment. EMBARKATION Embarkation was relatively smooth although if you are not a US or Canadian citizen expect copious amounts of paperwork other than the documents you receive with your cruise tickets. Once completed, though, we were through 'check in' and straight on to the ship. I am impressed that Celebrity has crew on hand when you board to take you to your stateroom. This is a nice touch and on a ship this size is certainly welcome. It can be a little daunting when you first board!! CABIN Although only in an Inside Stateroom we were happy with the cabin. Fairly sizeable - even for an inside - but beware - we were travelling in a group and there was a triple inside amongst us - the cabins were pretty squeezy to say the least - the third person being accommodated in a fold out sofa bed which then blocked access between the other 2 beds and the bathroom. Cabins are tastefully decorated and have all the modern conveniences of a hotel room including a roomy bathroom. PLENTY of cupboard/drawer space! FOOD I have heard mixed reports regarding Celebrity food but I am here to tell you it's not true. The food exceeded our expectations. Breakfast was either Buffet or Restaurant. Both offering a wide selection of quality breakfast fare. We had room service one morning which is a nice way to start they day - it even comes complete with a wake-up call minutes before it arrives! Lunches again were either Buffet or Restaurant. With lunch being a possible 5 courses in the restaurant we tended to stick to the buffet or grill - it was just too tempting!! Dinner in the restaurant was quite the event with fabulous food and even more amazing desserts. If you get a chance - take a galley tour. It really helps you appreciate just what is involved in feeding so many people!! There are also many other eating options including afternoon teas, midnight buffets and a unique Celebrity touch "gourmet bites" where waiters come through the ships public areas later in the evening with platters of canapes and cakes. As if you need more food - but hey, that's what cruises are all about!! Point to note - if you want a REALLY good coffee then it is worth paying for a latte in Cova Cafe. DRINKS While there is always somewhere to have a drink - and always an excuse to have one - I was amazed at the price of drinks. Sooo expensive. $5-6 USD for what we were drinking seemed a little excessive - or at least it was by Australian standards anyway. This didn't stop us by any means but it's best to be warned! Wine in the restaurant was also expensive although our Wine Steward (Lidieth from Costa Rica) really knew her wine and was spot on with all her recommendations. ENTERTAINMENT There were 4 "Las Vegas" style shows during the cruise and I have to say they were by far the best I have seen on ANY cruise ship. Extremely professional with elaborate costumes (many changes!!) and sets. The theatre is beautiful and definitely a highlight. Do not miss the shows. I can't speak for the Variety acts as I tend to give these a miss. The resident band "Opus" were also excellent. Their repertoire is astounding considering they are from Jamaica. I was expecting nothing but Reggae whereas they could play just about anything. A big thanks needs to go to Drew, the DJ. Our group tended to party well into the morning (5am on one morning) and he was more than happy to keep the music going till we headed to bed. I was a little disappointed however with the Cruise Staff - i.e. the staff who were there to 'entertain' the guests. Line dancing etc. I found them to be cold and not really 'into' it. They found it difficult to rouse any kind of atmosphere and were not as friendly as staff on other ships. The Assistant Cruise director in particular seemed to want to be anywhere but on the ship. PORTS For my first time in Alaska I enjoyed the ports although for me a cruise is about the ship, not the destinations. The ports are your typical Klondike towns - very pretty - and very touristy - and therefore very expensive. We didn't take any shore tours on offer, but chose to purchase our tours on shore from local operators. These were a lot cheaper and just as enjoyable. Hubbard Glacier is stunning - quite the impressive site - although this was the day of the horrific terrorist activity in NY. Everyone was understandably sombre although I was touched at the way all passengers rallied together to support each other, while accepting that we were there to appreciate the sights. It was quite the community spirit. DISEMBARKATION This was a nightmare given the events of the previous few days. Security meant that disembarkation was a very slow process but Celebrity handled it well and there were no disgruntled passengers. I would recommend the Infinity to anyone you could not possibly be disappointed. The age range was vast - more so than I expected. We have booked again for next year - can't wait!!Phil_Kennewell@flightcentre.comSeptember 2001 Read Less
Alaska ItineraryThis was our first cruise on Celebrity, and what a way to go but on a Millennium class ship. I now know why the Infinity is #1 by so many magazines. A MAGNIFICANT SHIP! All crew, servers, cabin attendants... were ... Read More
Alaska ItineraryThis was our first cruise on Celebrity, and what a way to go but on a Millennium class ship. I now know why the Infinity is #1 by so many magazines. A MAGNIFICANT SHIP! All crew, servers, cabin attendants... were friendly and attentive. The food was excellent. We even went and dined at the S.S. United States restaurant, on one of the formal nights, and was very impressed. I would recommend anyone to spend the extra, and dine there. The steak Diane was to die for! The cheese course was great, and they had the sharp cheeses I liked. The main dining room also had excellent choices, as did all the eating areas. I just wish I had explored further in the ship earlier on. When I finally did for breakfast, I found that there was made to order omelets. Next time, I'll know! The sushi nights were GREAT! In fact, I think I gained 10 pounds! We stayed on deck 6 (penthouse) with a veranda. Excellent cabin. I will never cruise again, unless in a room with a veranda or balcony. No more inside staterooms for us! The scenery was gorgeous. Never realized that the SE Alaska area was a rain forest. Beautiful mountains, waterfalls, trees everywhere, and cruising the passage was like sailing on glass! It may also had part to having a 91,000 ton vessel cutting the way! We had signed up for the Cruise Critic Party. However, either we didn't notice the announcement, or never got one on the date and time. We went to Customer Relations, and they told us, that we had missed it. They took down our name and cabin number, and a guest relations person in charge of these parties called. She apologized. I told her that I wasn't very upset at all, just wondering why we didn't hear about it. She stated that there must have been a communication problem, or people just forgot, cause out of the 25 people the signed up, ONLY 6 SHOWED UP! That's poor showing! Anyway, after numerous apologies, we ended our conversation. The next day, after returning to the ship, there was a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne to our surprise! WAY TO GO CELEBRITY! But, they didn't need to do this. I called her and expressed my gratitude, told her that it wasn't necessary, and she stated that she was sorry that we missed the [party], and that she hopes the rest of the cruise would be better. HECK, IT WASN'T BAD IN THE FIRST PLACE! The ports of call and the outings were great! I'm glad I had my new digital camera, so I didn't have to worry about film, and could take plenty of pictures of the entire voyage. I could ramble on for a long time! The wife and I are still SMILING about this cruise! Would we do it again? YES! Celebrity is the line for us, and we plan to use the Millennium class ships when ever possible. KUDOS TO CELEBRITY AND THE STAFF OF THE INFINITY! dschneider@gssolutions.comJuly 2003 Read Less
Alaska Review I am planning to write this review more about the Infinity and Celebrity cruises than the Alaskan Itinerary. Alaska's cruise season starts in May and ends in Sept. The weather is normally rainy, cold and over cast. We ... Read More
Alaska Review I am planning to write this review more about the Infinity and Celebrity cruises than the Alaskan Itinerary. Alaska's cruise season starts in May and ends in Sept. The weather is normally rainy, cold and over cast. We had sun and warm days on this trip but don't ever plan on that in Alaska. Me first cruise there 14 years ago in July was cold, rainy and overcast for 9 out of 10 days. This was my 27 cruise and number 12 for my partner and I together. Booking We booked our Premium outside, balcony cabin through a cruise wholesaler we found on Cruise Critic. We paid a give away price of only $949.00 PP plus fees. We booked our own air from Philadelphia to Vancouver via Denver on United. The cost of $550.00 PP was an over $300.00 PP savings over Celebrity's air option. Getting there Our day of sailing flights left on time and we arrived in Vancouver ahead of schedule. The walk form the gate to the customs area is a long one. As we turned the corner to the customs area we was the lines. Twelve or so very long lines with lots of Asian families with children. It took well over an hour to make it to the head of the line as most of people in front of us did not speak English and only half the Custom gates were open. The long process was the only down side of the trip. Once we got to the Customs agent we were through in a flash. We found our waiting bags and headed for the exit. We pasted the line for the Celebrity bus but at $15 PP each way we took a taxi. They take credit cards so no need for Canadian money, just make sure you tell your driver that is how you are going to pay. The trip to the pier at Canada Place cost $30.00 Canadian with tip - about $21.00 US. The half hour drive from the airport to the pier gave us a chance to see some of Vancouver's beautiful Architecture. Our driver even stopped at a liquor store so we could buy some provision for cocktails in our cabin. Our bags were taken curbside at Canada Place not to been again until they reached our cabin. We were directed through security and into the terminal, this was a snap, no lines. Once inside the main terminal a women told us to take a seat with hundreds of other passenger and wait for our name to be called. When I told her we were past passengers and Captain Club members she walked us over to the next available agent and we were checked in and on the ship in less than 15 minutes from the time we left the taxi. I almost didn't join The Captain's Club, which cost $35 for two, once you have sailed with Celebrity. The Club offers many other benefits besides the express check in. There are free wine tasting, spa discount, cocktail parties, discount future cruise coupons, etc. Celebrity, like many other newer cruise ships has on plastic card that is you identification, room key and charge card all in one. You can put away your wallet on board. Not only were we on board quickly but so was our baggage. The Ship WOW, where do I start? The Infinity in the second of Celebrity's Millennium class vessels. Her sisters are Millennium, Summit and Constellation. Their dark blue, white and yellow exterior colors along with the big X high above their eleven passenger decks sets them apart from most new builds of the other cruise lines. At 91,000 tons is one of the largest ships cruising Alaska. One never feels crowded on her and it is hard to believe that there are 1950 other people on board. We stepped on board we here lead to our cabin by one of the ever smiling staff, via a glass enclosed elevator over looking the sea. We marveled at the use of all the fine woods, marble, glass, brass, custom carpets, etc. Even after a year and a half she looked brand new and was spotlessly clean. Cabins Our cabin #8061 mid-ship on Panorama Deck, better know as deck eight (all the elevators have a voice announcing the deck number not name). Our Cat. 1B, 194 sq. foot plus balcony cabin was well appointed. Use of fine light woods, walls of mirror, soft colored fabrics gave the room a look of an elegant resort room on land. Queen size bed (convertible to twins), nightstands, built-in desk with drawers and storage cabins, large closes with lots of hangers and drawer space, safe, mini bar, hooks, sofa bed, lounge chair, cocktail table all added up to a very nice cabin. The bathroom was compact but well laid out. Our private balcony had two chairs and a small table and the sliding doors were easy to open and provided a great view. Except for the fact that it was smaller with no butler service it was a pretty as our penthouse suite on the QE2. The use of material as throughout the ship was the finest. If you like the idea of butler service and larger suites there are many to choose from. The top priced suites a the largest I have ever seen on a ship. The Cat. 2 cabins are slightly smaller than our but equally as nice. Even the smaller standard outside and inside cabins were larger than on other ship. If I was cruising on the cheap, cheap, I would have booked one of the lower priced inside for $599.00 PP plus fees for out cruise. Our cabin would not have been too good with extra persons, as the sofa bed when open would not allow any room to move around. Our cabin attendant kept things in perfect order. He brought our morning coffee on time and even provided refills on request. Public Rooms All the public room are beautiful starting with The Grand Foyer, a three-deck Atrium. It's highlight is an onyx staircase between decks three and four. The main business area on deck three includes the Shore Excursion office, bank, and guest relations. The cinema, used for talks and first ruin movies is also on this level. The seat used in the cinema are the MOST uncomfortable of any ship I have sailed on. They don't tilt and there is no knee room. Everyone complained. I does not make sense when everything els about the Infinity is so perfect. The Constellation lounge on deck eleven, is comfortable and contemporary with fantastic views on three sides. It gets lots of use both day and night. The Celebrity Theater spans three decks, seating 900, in grand style. There is a series of flaming torches behind glass that, on closer look, are actually fabric lit by under-lights. Up on deck four you'll find Fortunes, an Ancient Egyptian Style Casino, is not your typical flashy gambling hall but rather a stylish large venue for those who like the games of chance. Just outside the Casino and next to the photo gallery is Michael's Club, an evening only spot for drinks and a good cigar. This is a lovely under used room, too bad more men don't still smoke cigars. The Emporium, the ship's huge shopping mall is beautiful. Lots of high end stores with designer names and prices to match. Deck five contains the Rendezvous Lounge, the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar. These rooms are all beautifully designed and furnished with rich woods, marble, and comfortable chairs. Food This ship is a foodie's delight. The Trellis Restaurant is the ship's main dining room. Breakfast lunch are served here open seating, while dinner is a typical main or late seating. This lovely two-tiered restaurant is a huge, and has aft facing windows that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables size ranges from two to ten with most being six's or eight's. Cuisine was excellent, with the menu featuring traditional, nouvelle and vegetarian options for each of five courses. Service was friendly and perfect. Casual dining options included The Oceanview Grill and Cafe, the buffet restaurant on deck ten. The grill has omelet stations in the morning, that become pasta stations at lunch and serve pizza in the late afternoon. The is also an International station the changes every day, Italian, French, Asian, etc. There are even two ice cream counters. At dinner the Cafe becomes a semi-wait service area for casual dinners. Running along both port and starboard of buffet are raised and projecting table areas with full ocean views and floor set portholes that allow one to look down into the passing sea as you dine. Aft of the Cafe is an outdoor dining area with a bar and teak wood tables and chairs. The Oceanview Grill, poolside serves burgers, hot-dogs and fries. There is a weather protected area for eating in this area also. The AquaSpa health club forward of the main twin pool and whirlpool (4) area, has it's own buffet. Here for breakfast and lunch you'll find lighter, healthier fare. The AquaSpa's thalassotherapy pool which is domed over has two more whirlpool spa and a large area of teak lounge type chairs, running down one side and cabana like table and chair areas on the other. Both offer full ocean views will enjoying your lighter repast free on children under 18. Cova Cafe Milano offer free pastries at set times of the day but charges for coffee in various forms. The SS United States, Infinity's alternative restaurant, is excellent. The cost is $25.00 for a four-course meals that include a cheese course and worth every penny. Only problem you have to choose between either salad, appetizer or soup. Not that you'll go hungry but most American's are use to having appetizer, soup or salad, which they serve in the main dinning room. The wine list has many outstanding vintages at hefty prices. You can order by the glass but some of these run $20.00 or more per glass. We did find nice bottles in the $30 -$40 range. This is like going to a 3 star restaurant on land, jacket and tie or even tuxes are the dress code, even when the rest of the ship is casual night. We went two nights and as Captain's Club member we reserved weeks in advance of sailing. DON'T miss this dinning experience. If this is not enough to eat the butler lite bites in the bars lounges around midnight and there is always room service which we did late one afternoon for huge chocolate chip cookies and tea. Entertainment Celebrity's nightly Broadway style shows were great. Most passengers gave raves reviews. The only complaint here was that on some nights the show time for second seating was at 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM for early seating. We don't want to see the evening show before dinner when we would rather leisurely dress and meet friends for cocktail. There was music in Cova Cafe Milano nightly and the lounges had bands and trios for dancing. There was a late night DJ as well. First run movies where shown some nights, but only at 9:00 PM, right in the middle of our late seating dinner. Passengers The age range was from 20's to 70's with the average in their 40's and 50's, much younger than my last Alaskan cruise. We saw lots of families with two and three generations. There were many large groups of Asians, Australians, and East Indians traveling together. There were some younger children but not many, we even saw a few very young infants. There two wedding that took place on board before we sailed. All in all it was a very nice mix of first time and veteran cruisers. The Itinerary Sailing out of Vancouver we cruised the inside passage on day our first full day at sea. The weather was party cloudy and chilly. Day two the docked in Juneau. Alaska's capital, for now anyway. This is a walkable town with all the same touristy stores you find in the Caribbean. We did not take any of the overpriced ships tours but walked around town in the morning. After lunch on the ship we took the $5 bus each way to Mendenhall Glacier. Weather went from sunny to cloudy to rain, that is Alaska for you. Next stop was Skagway, a small town that can be walked in an hour. That afternoon we took the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to the Summit at Fraser, BC. The scenic 3 1/2 hour, round trip, train ride was $82 with tickets purchased at the train station, cheaper than if bought on board the Infinity. Weather from sunny and warm. The highlight of any Alaskan cruise is a trip into a glacier bay. On day four the sun shined brightly as we sailed into Hubbard Glacier. We spent the late morning and early afternoon enjoying the activity of the caving glacier. Next stop Ketchikan, small fish town that is the salmon capital of the world. The ship dropped anchor and we tendered in the morning but the Infinity docked in the afternoon after two other ships sailed. The main shopping area next to the docks has the same tourist traps as the other ports visited. The ship offered lots of tour but you can do much better booking on line prior to sailing or from the many tour offices that line the streets as you get of the ship in all the ports. We opted not to take a tour and just walk around on our own watching as the town folk went wild on the this warm and sunny day. We was youngster shirtless riding their skateboards down the streets and shop keepers just sitting outside their shops soaking up the sun. The town was quite empty in the afternoon after the other two ship sailed and many of the Infinity's passengers went on tour. Our last day was spent cruising back to Vancouver via the Inside Passage. We enjoyed the sunny day on deck viewing pods of killer whales and the local wildlife. Day seven we cruised back into sunny Vancouver docking about 8:00 AM. We where given tags for our luggage the night before based on number and colors. The Captain's Club Members and those with early flights got off first. This was the fast and most orderly disembarkation ever. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM at the airport for our 10:55 AM back to Philadelphia by 9:00 AM. Overall Both my partner and I enjoyed this Alaskan cruise very much. If you have never been there I think you will like it. It is not your typical warm weather cruise. Celebrity is one of the best cruise lines out there and the Infinity is right up there with the best large ship sailing today. We did like the fact the Celebrity has a dress code of two formal nights (tux or dark suit), two semiformal (jackets and tie) and three casual evenings (shirt and sacks). Most passengers followed these codes and saved the jeans and shorts for daytime wear. We can't wait to return to one of these Millennium class vessels soon. From what we were told by several staff members Celebrity rotates much of the staff between the four ships. I think you will enjoy any of these beautiful sisters and like Celebrity as much as we do. We are just hoping the our next cruise over New Year on NCL's brand new Norwegian Dawn is a good. TOBEYatPHL@aol.comOctober 2002 Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the ... Read More
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the highlight before boarding the Infinity. This was our first cruise and the first time I had ever been on a boat, small or large and I was very apprehensive, armed with seasick pills and all the nerve I could muster, we boarded to be greeted by Champagne, Mimosa, or Orange Juice and a very friendly person who took us to our Sky Suite, via the beautiful glass elevator. Our suite greeted us with a bottle of Champagne, Fresh Fruit, and a beautiful room with a large veranda, comfortable deck chairs and the privacy and peace we were looking for. The suite comes with a butler, who made himself very scarce. In fact the only negative I have about the trip was the butler who was very lazy and hard to find. The rest of the crew made you feel like it was their personal goal in life to make you happy. I cannot say enough about our waiter Mert, and his assistant Vittala. They made every dining experience pure pleasure. These young men were professional and pleasant and absolutely nothing was too much for them to do. One night I couldn't eat another mouthful when we came to dinner, and I did not order an entrEe, Mert said "you must eat something, I will get you what ever you want". My comment was to him thank you, but tell me, do you get a commission if we eat". We both laughed. The entertainment, the dancers and singers, were as professional as some New York show I have seen and very enjoyable. The variety acts were good, but I don't care much for jugglers or magicians but I realize they have to have something for everyone. We only attended one of the late night parties as we took shore excursions at every port and enjoyed them tremendously, except perhaps were a little disappointed in the Totem Pole excursion, it really wasn't too interesting. But the shopping in town was fun. We loved the art auction and purchased three painting and two auctions. It was fun with the photographer taking all the pic's around the ship, they were a little too costly but we bought all of them including the video, (which isn't very professional, but a nice remembrance) perhaps they could change the music on the Alaska video it sounds very much like the X rated music. The last night was a sad one as we hated for the cruise, our new friends, the wonderful crew and just the whole experience to end. We hope to take another Infinity cruise next year and I think once you are on the best boat it will be a hard act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the ... Read More
We just returned from the Alaska Inside Passage Cruise and we are still dreaming about this wonderful experience. We boarded in Vancouver, after spending the day there. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we managed to see a few of the highlight before boarding the Infinity. This was our first cruise and the first time I had ever been on a boat, small or large and I was very apprehensive, armed with seasick pills and all the nerve I could muster, we boarded to be greeted by Champagne, Mimosa, or Orange Juice and a very friendly person who took us to our Sky Suite, via the beautiful glass elevator. Our suite greeted us with a bottle of Champagne, Fresh Fruit, and a beautiful room with a large veranda, comfortable deck chairs and the privacy and peace we were looking for. The suite comes with a butler, who made himself very scarce. In fact the only negative I have about the trip was the butler who was very lazy and hard to find. The rest of the crew made you feel like it was their personal goal in life to make you happy. I cannot say enough about our waiter Mert, and his assistant Vittala. They made every dining experience pure pleasure. These young men were professional and pleasant and absolutely nothing was too much for them to do. One night I couldn't eat another mouthful when we came to dinner, and I did not order an entree, Mert said "you must eat something, I will get you what ever you want". My comment was to him thank you, but tell me, do you get a commission if we eat". We both laughed. The entertainment, the dancers and singers, were as professional as some New York show I have seen and very enjoyable. The variety acts were good, but I don't care much for jugglers or magicians but I realize they have to have something for everyone. We only attended one of the late night parties as we took shore excursions at every port and enjoyed them tremendously, except perhaps were a little disappointed in the Totem Pole excursion, it really wasn't too interesting. But the shopping in town was fun. We loved the art auction and purchased three painting and two auctions. It was fun with the photographer taking all the pic's around the ship, they were a little too costly but we bought all of them including the video, (which isn't very professional, but a nice remembrance) perhaps they could change the music on the Alaska video it sounds very much like the X rated music. The last night was a sad one as we hated for the cruise, our new friends, the wonderful crew and just the whole experience to end. We hope to take another Infinity cruise next year and I think once you are on the best boat it will be a hard act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
Just returned from my first Celebrity Cruise which was aboard the Infinity out of Vancouver, B.C. on July 25, 2003. This was my 14th cruise but I say without hesitation, that this was the best. INITIAL COMMENT: I write this endorsement ... Read More
Just returned from my first Celebrity Cruise which was aboard the Infinity out of Vancouver, B.C. on July 25, 2003. This was my 14th cruise but I say without hesitation, that this was the best. INITIAL COMMENT: I write this endorsement of Concierge Class with some reservation. There are= only so many Concierge Class cabins on each ship. The more people who know about it will just make it more difficult to book them. So, lets keep this information to ourselves, OK? CHECK IN: We opted for Concierge Class cabin 9065 (Sky Deck) and in my opinion, the upgrade is well worth it and then some. We arrived at the dock (Canada Place) with a friend who was not in a Concierge cabin. After the initial sorting, we were all assigned a Processing Number (21). Then we were separated from our friend and sent though an express line for Concierge Class and Suites where we were registered and given gold identification cards. We then entered a large area crowded with people waiting to proceed through American Customs. (And no, I don't know why U.S. Customs was doing business in Vancouver, B.C. but I'm sure someone here will educate me). They were only working on Group 11, so we assumed we would have a long wait. However, within a minute or two, there was an announcement for all passengers in Concierge Class or Suites to come forward. At that point we were moved to the front of a very long line and immediately processed through Customs and allowed to board the Ship. Our poor friend then spent the next two (2) hours in that crowd waiting to get on board. As you can imagine, the speedy check-in alone made the extra charge worth it! But, the benefits of Concierge Class only started there! THE CABIN: We think the biggest improvement is the upgraded linens, the goose down duvet and the PILLOW TOP MATTRESS PAD, which completely eliminated the dreaded crack in the middle. The pillow choices were great (we took goose down). The daily color change for the towels and bath rug was an unexpected surprise, especially when I realized that the room steward was changing the colors of the cue tips each day so they matched the color of the towels!! There were so many other little touches -- binoculars, padded balcony chairs, larger table, upgraded Frette bathrobes, golf umbrella (which we used in Juneau), fresh cut flowers in the cabin and the bathroom! The level of service was also very good. In Concierge Class, there is a special enhanced room service menu. We used this to order in-cabin breakfast service every night before bed. Unlike other cruise lines, where the food arrived with a sudden knock on the door, with Celebrity, we received a phone call each morning to tell us breakfast was on the way up. It was such a nice touch and avoided the awkwardness of a surprise early delivery. Another great move was the room steward cleaned the railing and the glass panels on the balcony every day! (I have been on suites on the Rhapsody of the Seas and on the Grand Princess where this was not done.) It was something you noticed and appreciated every day when you looked out your balcony doors or sat out there with a cocktail! On the issue of the overhang, I have to admit that I became a little obsessed with this issue after lingering around these boards too long before the cruise but once on board, the overhand from deck 10 above did not bother us at all. (We also did not have any problem with noise from the pool deck.) THE SHIP: The Infinity is a beautiful ship! During the week, we discussed what it was about this ship that was so nice. We came to the conclusion that it was an understated elegance in the decoration. The ship's interiors are beautiful and well done without being "over the top." I think this was what bothered us so much about RCI's Voyager of the Seas -- way over the top without the elegance (see my review from last year). The main foyer area with the long white drapes and onyx staircase is beautiful as are the main dining room and the theatre. (I didn't quite understand the burning boxes in the walls of the theatre, but if you didn't think about it, you were fine!) The SS United States restaurant was also wonderful. The goat cheese souffle, Steak Diane and chocolate souffle were TDF (to die for). Don't miss the following: - Wonderful fresh pastries every afternoon in the Cova Cafe. The Ship's Bar Manager, Tonya, from Sweden always seemed to be right there and was one of the friendliest officers on board. - A full Sushi Bar each afternoon on deck 10..and I said FULL Sushi Bar! Not just California Rolls. Everything including broiled eel and hot sake! - Pea Soup in a bread bowl to keep you warm while at the Glacier! - Probably not entirely legal, but we borrowed a couple of= the wool blankets from the pool deck and kept them on our balcony for chilly days! - Champagne on boarding and Hot Chocolate upon returning to the ship after a day in port! - Take all the digital pictures you want! You can download them to the ship's server as often as you need to and, at the end of the week, you can burn all of them on to CDs for $15.00 per CD. Each CD can take up to 700 megabytes so that's a lot of pictures! The staff is very helpful and will guide you through the whole thing. - The Arabian Gardens in the spa. For $17.00 per day, you can use multiple steam rooms, saunas, heated benches and showers. I think the best were the small steam room with the smell of Eucalyptus and the Lemon tropic shower. It was very relaxing and very warm!! They may have a discounted weekly rate. I'm not sure. - Low Cal, Low Fat spa lunches in the Spa Cafe were also good. I had these between my normal lunch at the buffet and my late afternoon cheeseburger and pizza snack at the Breezes Pool Cafe! (Just kidding!!!) AND THE GREATEST IDEA ON AN ALASKAN CRUISE IS Ta-Da!! The Thalassotherapy Pool. This is the covered pool forward of the main pool on Deck 10. It is an adults only pool that is kept almost as warm as the hot tubs. The salts and minerals in the water are great. It has stainless steel pipe bleachers to lay on in the pool and large curved overhead pipes with flowing water to massage your neck, shoulders and back. It was just great to come back chilled from an outing off the ship and jump in for your daily self administered spa treatment. And while I understand that they originally wanted to charge for this pool, there is no extra charge now. FOOD: Without reservation (no pun) the food aboard the Infinity was wonderful no matter where you were. The Main Dining room service is great (except for a recurring problem with the wine steward). If you don't see anything you like on the dinner menu, the waiter told me you can ALWAYS order off the menu for a strip steak, chicken or a fish dish any night of the cruise. The food at the buffet on deck 10 is also very good. Always fresh, good tasting and the views from this casual dining area are magnificent for breakfast, lunch and/or sushi! Homemade ice cream is also great as are the omelet bar in the morning and the pasta bar at lunch. Last year on the Voyager, the food looked good, but was just plain bland and tasteless. On the Infinity, everything looked great and tasted great! The Pastries on the Voyager looked good, but always tasted like sponge cake. On the Infinity, an eclair tasted like an eclair! It was wonderful! THE PORTS: Juneau: The Tramway up the mountain in front of the ship dock was great. Beautiful nature walks from the top. The forest was beautiful. Skagway: A bit of a Disney-like experience but still fun for what it is. We took a motor excursion up the pass rather than the White Pass Railway. We had been told the train was nice but limited since they don't stop on the way. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride up and back. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and stopped at several places for pictures and to view waterfalls. The cost was also about a third of the cost of the train. The trip cost about $35.00 per person. Hubbard Glacier: I guess I expected to see a big blue ice cube floating in the water. Boy, was I wrong! We came so close to the glacier. The sound of the cleaving of the ice and it crashing into the water was so intense! We spent about 1/3 of the time in the Constellation (deck 10), 1/3 on deck and 1/3 on our balcony. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Ketchikan: I think this was the most American City. It was cute but unless you were on an excursion, not a lot to do. We were originally anchored out but were able to dock at 3 p.m. next to the Summit when the Dawn Princess left the dock. Prior to this, the tender service was great so long as you were Concierge Class or in a suite. There were special tender passes left in the cabin the night before by the room steward. That morning, we were directed away from the crowd and sent to Michael's Bar to wait instead of the main theater. They had coffee and pastries there for us. After just a few minutes, we were put in the front of the next tender group to leave. I think it saved a lot of time since there were a good number of people waiting in the theater. Vancouver: Loved this town. We stayed for a few days after the cruise and had a wonderful time. RANDOM NOTES: - Michael's Bar is no longer a cigar bar. I quit smoking in January, but was told that the cigar bar was now up in the Constellation on 10 (but I didn't see anything to indicate a cigar bar up there). - The ship's photographers on the Voyager of the Seas drove us crazy last year. To the point of causing traffic jams when trying to get off the ship. I'm glad to say this is not true on the Infinity. They are there, but will back off if you indicate you don't want a picture taken. - There is a topless bathing area on the very top forward area of the ship, but this doesn't seem to be a big-ticket item on Alaska cruises even in late July!! - This ship is wonderful but there was so much going on that we were still finding out about stuff up to the last day! Read your daily programs and don't forget a highlighter to mark it up so you don't miss things you want to do. - Although we were not able to eat at midnight (second seating) we did come down to see the Grand Buffet. It was beautiful as were the special window shades that they use that night. - The huge aft window in the main dining room was incredible. We had wonderful sunsets during second sitting, as the sun would go down as late as 10 pm or thereabouts. BRINGING ALCOHOL ON BOARD: OK this is the skinny: I don't think Celebrity really cares if you bring a couple of bottles of booze on board. We brought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of rum on board packed in Ziploc bags in our checked luggage. We carried the mixers in our hand luggage. Never a problem. I don't think there would have been if we had carried it all in our hand luggage. They don't seem concerned about it. END NOTES: In summary, the Infinity was my 14th cruise and I can say without reservation, that this cruise the best of all of them. This actually surprises me! As a side note, Celebrity and the Infinity actually remind me of my first cruises on Royal Caribbean over 10 years ago. The food is uniformly good and the staff conveys a genuine feeling that they want you to enjoy yourself. I realize that Celebrity is now owned by RCI and this doesn't comfort me. I hope they have the continuing good sense to leave Celebrity alone! I also promise to forgive RCI for my Voyager cruise last year so long as they promise not to try to "improve" Celebrity! It was a wonderful week that has restored my faith in the cruise vacation! We will be back and it will be Celebrity!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Vancouver BC My partner and I flew from Chicago to Vancouver, B.C. with American Airlines using frequent flyer miles. We arrived in Vancouver early on Thursday August 21, 2003, and checked into our hotel the St Regis. This hotel was ... Read More
Vancouver BC My partner and I flew from Chicago to Vancouver, B.C. with American Airlines using frequent flyer miles. We arrived in Vancouver early on Thursday August 21, 2003, and checked into our hotel the St Regis. This hotel was booked through Expedia.com, as was our cruise. It was basic but clean and centrally located. We spent all day Thursday exploring Vancouver, though most of the afternoon was spent on Granville Island, which is reachable from downtown via a bridge using the # 50 bus, $2 Canadian each way. There are lots of art galleries, a brewery, a produce/ fish market, restaurants and a marina. This place is well worth a visit if you are spending any time in Van City. On our return from the cruise we spent a further two nights in Vancouver Vancouver is a beautiful city: clean and scenic, with friendly and helpful natives. We were blessed with very fine weather, sunny and in the high 70's, unusual for Vancouver to have San Diego weather! In addition to Granville island, we rented bikes and explored Stanley Park, we also toured the Gastown district and on our final day we rented a car and drove the "sea to sky" highway to the ski resort of Whistler. In Vancouver we dined at two quality restaurants: the Pacific Culinary Institute on Granville Island and the Kettle of Fish on Pacific near Howe. Both very worthwhile, especially of you enjoy fresh seafood. The Cruise: This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first to Alaska. Previously we have sailed in the Caribbean (Southern and Eastern) with Norwegian Cruise Lines, the now defunct Dolphin Lines, Sun Cruises and Carnival. We are now hooked on Celebrity, so positive was our experience. The few negative things I mention here are so that Celebrity can make the cruise experience even more positive for future passengers. I hope they take note of their passenger reviews, and I hope that you, the reader, will get some tips for your cruise on Infinity. Embarkation: the only delay next day was waiting for US Immigration officials who arrived at 12noon: we were there at 11:00am so we had to hang around for an hour. If you are going on the cruise, use your morning to explore Vancouver and plan to arrive at the Cruise terminal after 12:30pm. Once on board, we headed directly to the lunch buffet and when we arrived back at our cabin the luggage had already arrived. The Ship. The Infinity is a new ship, just over two years old, and she is beautiful. She is quite a large vessel, and seemed to dwarf other ships at the various ports we sailed to. She is the largest in Celebrity's fleet, though the dEcor is very modern, and if you're looking for a traditional ship with lots of teak and brass, you will be disappointed. There were over 2000 passengers on board but due to the size and spaciousness of the ship, we never felt it was too crowded. Due to recent outbreaks of the Norwalk Virus on other cruise lines, Celebrity staff were always visible cleaning surfaces and door handles with peroxide, especially in the public restrooms. It was great to see Universal Health Precautions being observed throughout the ship, which was-- with one exception (described below)-- spotlessly clean. The passenger demographics were: lots of Asians on board, and most people in their thirties and older. We met passengers from England, Australia, Spain and Israel. Not too many young people, although there were some teenagers fuming at the sign by the Thallasotherapy pool area that read " Children under 18 not allowed." Celebrity might like to change that one. Teenagers don't like to be called children! It seems that the crew are given one day off per week, and on our first port day (Juneau) it was obvious from the mess in the pool area that they were short-staffed. Used towels were strewn about and dirty food trays went uncollected, for hours! This was the only time that I noticed this. At all other times, the ship was spotless. Another observation I had was that some of the young people on board barged straight into the elevators without waiting for passengers to get off, which I thought was extremely irritating. If I had done that at their age, I'd have had my ears clipped by my parents. We had an inside cabin, number 2103, and we found it quite large compared to staterooms on other cruise lines we had experienced. We didn't mind having an inside cabin as we are hardly ever there during the day, although I can see the advantage of having an ocean view cabin or a verandah on the Alaska cruise. There was plenty of storage. My only gripe is that Celebrity does not provide shower gel, so bring your own! They do provide bar soap, lotion and shampoo, but as I'm bald and don't care much for bar soap I had no use for these items, and had to buy shower gel in Juneau on our first port day! In addition, I had a sore on my gum and needed Anbesol. The sundries shop on board the ship was useless. It carried none of the items I needed, such as Anbesol and shower gel, and as far as I'm concerned the shopping emporium on Infinity is a lot of wasted space. If you are to have a sundries store, then it should be well stocked or don't bother. There is a casino on board. Slot machines are tight and the only one with a consistently good payout was the Cleopatra nickel machine first on the left as you enter the Casino. I won 5,000 nickels (enough to pay for the bear watching excursion!) on a $2 bet. Not bad! But I heard from other passengers that they had not had much success on the quarter and dollar slots. Watch out at the Blackjack tables: study the rules carefully before you play. Their Blackjack rules differ greatly from those on land-based casinos. Cuisine: We took most meals, including breakfast, in the main dining room: The Trellis. Breakfast is cooked to order, a nice change from the buffet. The food on Celebrity is exceptional. It is beautifully prepared and presented, with a wide variety. The only exception was a salmon dish that one diner at our table had to send back. One couple at our table desired a kosher menu, and it was provided for them with no problem. We had fresh seafood options every day, and lobster tail and filet mignon were among the menu items on various evenings. Celebrity offered a variety of chilled soups which were all excellent. It was my partner's birthday during the cruise and as a surprise I had ordered a bottle of bubbly to be served to him-- with flutes for everyone at table-- on the evening of his birthday. Problem was, the wine steward gave away the surprise on the previous evening by announcing that this was to be served next evening. I took this complaint to customer service, and never got any satisfaction. This surprised me, given the fact that Celebrity boast about exceeding customer expectations. The staff on Celebrity is International and our waiter was from Honduras. He was excellent, but due to language difficulties there were one or two misunderstandings. A nice touch is the linen tray covers and linen napkins that are provided at the buffet meals in the Oceanview Restaurant. The fresh orchid on each table of the dining room is another touch of class. We attended an elegant afternoon tea one afternoon, also in the main dining room. Our table was for six people, and we were blessed with wonderful dining companions. Aside from ourselves, there was a couple from Brooklyn, New York, and another couple from Toronto,Canada. We got along so well that we met at the Martini bar almost every evening before dinner. The bartender, Victoria, was wonderful. Her secret ingredient? "I shake them with love." The Specialty Restaurant On one evening we dined in the SS United States, the ship's specialty restaurant. This is well worth the extra expense of $25 per person. Many of the dishes are prepared tableside and presented in the style of the old ocean liners. The chef provided an opening "amuse": asparagus wrapped in smoked wild salmon. After dinner coffee was presented with a tray of petits fours I dislike cheese, and as one of the four courses offered here is a cheese course, they allowed me to choose two appetizers instead. I highly recommend the Lobster Veloute and Steak Diane. We dined here on one of the formal evenings, and wore tuxedos. The only complaint I have about this restaurant is that I had to ask twice, and wait, for my water glass to be filled. Any restaurant that claims to be of this standard should never have a customer have to wait for something as basic as this. Activities and Excursions: Ports of call were Juneau, Skaguay and Ketchikan. We took the local Juneau blue bus service to see the Mendenhall Glacier. It is $10 round trip, and a substantial savings on the $39 being charged by Celebrity. We also took a floatplane excursion in Ketchikan to an isolated area in the Tongass National Forest, where we saw black bears catching salmon from a river. We also saw bald eagles, mountain goats and, as we flew back to Ketchikan, we saw a pod of Orcas swimming in the Sound. This trip cost us approximately $250 each, and was a much better value than the $350+ being charged by Celebrity. In Skagway we took the White Horse Railway to the Canadian border. This was the only shore excursion we purchased through the ship. We did much better by going it on our own for the shore excursions: We got better deals on shore than by buying through the ship. The highlight was the morning we sailed into Yakutat bay and saw the Hubbard Glacier. It is awesome and magnificent. We got within a half mile of the glacier wall, and we could hear it thundering and cracking. Bring loads of film or memory cards for your digital camera. Also lots of warm layered clothing! We actually saw a piece of this glacier calving into the bay. They also had Rangers on board to answer questions and a naturalist who gave excellent lectures on the geology and fauna of Alaska. You will learn a lot by listening to these experts. The Spa. There is a huge Spa on board the Infinity. It consists of a large Thalassotherapy pool which is heated sea water with bubble jets: very relaxing after a morning hike through the rain forest! There is also a large men's locker room with Sauna and fresh clean towels. Nearby is the Persian garden, a spa oasis in tile and mosaic, with Turkish bath, herbal steam room and thermarium with a variety of showers. There is also an Aqua Spa Cafe serving lighter and healthier fare for lunch. I have some complaints about the spa service: First it is run by Steiner Inc., not by Celebrity. Their staff seemed to use the Persian Garden an awful lot as a shortcut to get from Port side to Starboard and vice-versa. I resented this as I had to pay $99 for the privilege of using the Persian Garden for the duration of the cruise. In addition, one of the thermariums,—the Sahara Room-- was out of order for at least two days of the cruise. My biggest complaint is that I ordered a massage before the ship left port (they offer a 10% discount on day one if you order before sailing) and then at the time of my appointment, the massage therapist offered me a deep tissue massage. I accepted but he didn't tell me that this was $30 more expensive. I didn't realize this until I was checking my receipts that evening. When I took the problem to the spa staff, I was made to feel that I should pay for what I got. The problem was I didn't order it, it was offered to me as an option and I was never told it was a more expensive option. It seems that the staff of Steiner Inc., the people who run the spas on Celebrity, need some education about ethical business conduct and customer service. I didn't like their attitude, which was snooty and condescending. That's all I have to say abut that: it was one of the few negative experiences I had on this vacation. I did eventually get my refund, but I had to make efforts to get it. By the way, when comparing notes with other passengers, it seems that Steiner Inc. try to get customers to take more expensive services all the time at the Spa. I think they need to tell you if the price is different to what you think you'll be paying. Not to do so is grossly unfair. They also have a heavy sales pitch for their products, which are outrageously expensive compared to other brands for similar products. Entertainment: from the morning trivia quiz in the library to the Broadway style shows in the theater, we have no complaints about the entertainment on the Infinity. Our favorite was Nathaniel Reed, the talented soloist and Piano player who did an outstanding job every evening in Michael's lounge. We were also entertained by a harpist and a string quartet who played well during dinner or at various times and places throughout the ship. Despite my complaints, I have to say that the Infinity and its staff scored very highly. We will definitely choose Celebrity again. We joined the Captain's Club, a sort of frequent cruiser program. We also enjoyed the coffee morning "Cruise Critic" party where we met some of the staff, and other cruise critic members. I hope the comments offered here will be of help to others taking this cruise and with this ship. I also hope Celebrity can learn from what I have written here. They do have a quality product. But they should fire Steiner Inc. and run the spa with their own staff. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Vancouver to Alaska 8/1/03-8/8/03 Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the ... Read More
Vancouver to Alaska 8/1/03-8/8/03 Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures that are included are of our room 7203, which was an aft room with a huge balcony and of the Penthouse Suite. We met some very nice people (Wayne & Carol) who were gracious enough to invite us to the Penthouse Suite a couple of times. We saw the Hubbard Glacier from the Penthouse - but more on that later. The Review: This was the second cruise for my husband and me and both have been with Celebrity. We were on the Millennium last November. The Infinity is a beautiful, clean ship and almost identical to the Millennium. I really only have two negative criticisms about our cruise on the Infinity, so I will just get that over with now and get on to the good stuff. As I said the Infinity is almost identical to the Millennium and that includes the menus and the entertainment. We wished that there had been more variety. Granted, we went back with Celebrity because we loved what they had to offer, but we just wish there would have been a difference between the two ships. We think that the menus were exactly the same on our Caribbean cruise as on the Alaska cruise. The production shows were exactly the same. They were good mind you, just the same with different singers and dancers. The second negative thing I have to say was leaving the ship. We had to wait for more than an hour once we got to the lounge before we were allowed to leave the ship. Once we did leave the ship everything went very smooth. Ok, now to the good stuff... We drove from Colorado to Vancouver. A great road trip with plenty of good scenery. Vancouver was beautiful and we stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel the night before the cruise. It is very expensive, but definitely worth the splurge. The Pan Pacific is right at Canada Place. In the morning when we were ready to board the ship, we just called the bell captain and they came and got all of our luggage. We didn't see the luggage again until it was outside our stateroom door. We parked our car at CruisePark, (www.cruisepark.com) which was easy and rather inexpensive. It cost about $62 US for parking for the eight nights - not bad. We dropped our car off at their lot, which was about a quarter mile from Canada Place and they shuttled us back to the Pan Pacific. When we got off the ship, they sent a shuttle to come and get us and had our car ready to go. They totally helped with the luggage. I would recommend them. If you use CruisePark you can make reservations in advance from their website. Embarkation was a breeze. If you are a Captain's Club member, I would suggest telling anyone you meet with a Celebrity nametag that. We were put in front of many people and were among the first to board. They had special check in tables for CC members and there want a line at all. Check in took about two minutes and then we had to wait to clear US Customs. After about a 15 minute wait, CC members were allowed to board after people in wheel chairs and parents with small children. If you have a Passport, bring it. They barely look at you - makes things move right along. Once we boarded the ship, we were greeted with champagne. A white- gloved attendant showed us to our room and helped with our carry-on baggage. We were in room 7203, a category 1C aft cabin with an enormous balcony - in fact, the balcony felt like the same size as the room. There was plenty of storage and other than the color scheme and the giant balcony, was exactly the same as our room on the Millennium. We had spectacular weather for pretty much the entire cruise. Leaving Vancouver and going under the Lion's Gate Bridge was breathtaking. When the ship left port, we were on Deck 11. The pool band was playing and Bon Voyage Drinks were being passed around. The waiters were not pushy with the drinks, but they were there if you needed them to be. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline that is only enhanced by a view of Mount Baker in the background. Food & Service Although the menus were the same, the food was delicious and plentiful. I love the breakfast buffet with all of the fresh baked breads and the omelets that are cooked to order. The French toast is quite good too. The buffet workers were always friendly. The waiters carried the buffet trays for women to your table when you were done getting your food. We did have lunch in the Trellis (main) Dining room once. We had great tablemates at that lunch, but overall I preferred the buffet for lunch. We dined in the Trellis every night, except the last formal night when we dined at the S. S. United States. I met with the Maitre'D on the day we left to check our table assignment. I was not pleased that we were originally seated by the entry doors to the dining room. I tried to grease the Maitre'D with a twenty dollar bill to get a better table but he said that want necessary because he still couldn't help me. As a last straw, I finally had to pull the "birthday card" since it was actually my birthday that day to get a better table. We were placed at an eight-person table a few tables away from the Captain's table on the fourth deck - the first floor of the dining room. We had a great view out of the large picture windows behind the Captain's table. We sat with two Russian couples that reside in Los Angeles, and a couple from Chicago. A fun table overall, but we will request a six person table the next time we cruise. The dining room gets a bit noisy and it was hard to hear the people that were on the opposite side of the table from where we were. The Infinity serves 8,000 meals a day and every meal I got was hot and cooked to order. I would say that the dining room food was excellent. Each night our waiter Andre would tell us about the menu and give his recommendation for the night. I will admit that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I had steak every night, except when they had lobster and then I had Prime Rib and Lobster. If we wanted something all we had to do was ask. We had pretty slow cocktail service on the first night of the cruise and one of the Russian couples complained about it. Boy, did we get the "full court press" the following night. We had a new cocktail server who was very attentive and fast at getting the cocktails. The maitre came and apologized and then bought the table a bottle of champagne to share. Our Assistant Waiter, Punto knew that my husband liked iced tea and always brought him two iced teas at the beginning of each dinner. I had purchased a soda card (about $40), which is good for fountain soda drinks throughout the cruise. If you have more than two sodas a day, this is a good value. The new and improved cocktail server knew I had a soda card and automatically brought me a Diet Coke each night and it was replaced as soon as it was empty. We dined at the S.S. United States on the last formal night. For an additional $25 per person you really can't go wrong. It is worth it alone just in the service and personal attention that you will receive during this amazing experience. Each dish is delivered and set down at the table at the same time, usually accompanied by a "Voila!" Fine crystal and silver are used in this dining room. I especially liked the crystal old fashioned salt well on the table. The food was great. I had the goat cheese soufflE - and yes it is as good as everyone says it is. My husband had the lobster soup, which was delicious. We both had the Steak Diane, which was cooked for us table-side. The cheese course is excellent with a good variety of choices. For desert, I had the Crepes Suzette (also cooked table-side) and my husband had the Chocolate soufflE - he wished he would have also ordered the Crepes Suzette, which was truly outstanding. We spent a small fortune on alcohol on this night. We had wonderful champagne at $17 a glass to start, a good red wine from Central California, and I finished it off with a dessert wine. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and was able to spend more time with us than in the main dining room, which is probably why we drank so much that night. Our room steward, Frank was great. My husband commented that it took years for me to learn his schedule, but it only took Frank about two days to learn it. He just knew when we would be gone and whenever we came back, the room was clean. On the first day I asked for an extra towel and didn't have to ask again. Celebrity does have new chocolates for the pillows, more like a truffle actually. It was very difficult going to bed after the cruise without seeing one of the chocolates on my pillow. Don't worry, I am adjusting. Ports & Scenery First of all, let me just say that the scenery that we saw was more beautiful than I could have even hoped for. We live in Colorado with a view of the Rocky Mountains and in my opinion, the scenery was far better in British Columbia and Alaska. Inside Passage What a treat to be able to cruise and constantly see a changing landscape. My husband had a GPS unit and a detailed map and loved keeping track of where we were, and where we were going. Juneau In Juneau, we chose to go whale watching with Captain Larry's whale watching. They have a toll-free number on their website and you can call and make reservations. They fill up quick as they are highly recommended on the Ports of Call board here on the Cruise Critic. The cost was about $100 per person - they charge you half when you make the reservation and the other half the night before your excursion. The tour office is an easy walk from where the ships dock and they take you in a bus to Aulk Bay where the whale watching boat is docked. The boat is small and holds about 25 passengers. On this tour, we saw Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Seals and about a dozen Humpback Whales. The boat is equipped with an underwater microphone and you can hear the whales singing. They sing louder right before they surface. You can see great from all sides of the ship. They provide binoculars if you don't have your own. Even though it was overcast on this day, it didn't rain. We had a fantastic view of the Mendenhall Glacier from the whale watching boat. My biggest mistake was only bringing three rolls of film - I burned through it pretty quick. Juneau, the town, was quite the tourist trap. The Red Dog Saloon had good food and entertainment - a funny piano player singing songs and making fun of all of the tourists. The Alaska Fudge shop did have great fudge. Other than that, nothing very original. Skagway In Skagway, we rented a car from Avis and went out to explore the Yukon and drive on the Alaska Highway. This was the only day on the entire trip that it rained and it only rained for a little while in the morning. We drove almost the exact same route as the Yukon Pass Rail Road - a popular tour offered by the cruise ship. We stopped in Carcross because it is just an adorable small little town. The people that work in the General Store are very friendly and gave us a good tip about visiting Canyon. I had read on the Ports of Call board that they have great ice cream in the General Store. It was so good that not only did we have it on the way to White Horse, we stopped for a second helping on the way back. Get the Pralines and Cream if you go - you won't be disappointed. We stopped at Emerald Lake and it was very beautiful. The pictures that we took here look like someone superimposed our pictures over the lake - it just doesn't look real. White Horse is a pretty big town and the capital of the Yukon. I found the town to be nice and not too touristy. We had lunch in town at a small deli and then drove on the Alaska Highway for a while. We saw signs for Fairbanks and Anchorage - very cool. On the border checkpoint back in Skagway, they actually stamped our passports with a "Skagway Alaska" stamp - something very novel in today's day and age. It is a good memento. Hubbard Glacier We had a very bright and sunny day for viewing the Hubbard Glacier. WOW, WOW, WOW. What a sight, and what sounds!! On the way to the Glacier we were able to see an unobstructed view of Mt. Elias at over 18,000 feet high. The Hubbard Glacier was a definite highlight of the trip. The ship was able to get within one and a half ships lengths away from the Glacier. The Glacier is six miles long and 300 feet high. It has a bright blue color. On the day we were there, there was a lot of action going on. The calving was amazing. Calving is when large pieces of the Glacier fall off into the water. The sound is a mixture of Snapping, Popping, Crackling and an occasional burst of thunder. It was a great show, Mother Nature at her best. We stayed for at least an hour, maybe longer in front of the Glacier. The ship made several big spins in front of the Glacier so there were great views to be had from everywhere on the ship. The crew was passing out delicious pea soup in bread bowls (no cost) and offering stainless steel mugs of hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys ($7.50). I must say both were excellent and the stainless steel cup is a nice souvenir. For the better part of the viewing of the Glacier, we were on the 11th Deck but it was rather crowded. Once the ship started making turns, we went back to our aft cabin to view. When we were standing out there, our friends that were in the Penthouse Suite were also on their deck and invited us down to their suite. There were several of us from the Cruise Critic Board hanging out and watching the Glacier. What a great day! Ketchikan Again, we had beautiful sunny weather. It was warm and we were dressed in shorts. I felt sorry for all of the people lugging jackets and sweatshirts around. We had to tender into Ketchikan. Again, we said we were captain's Club members and we were given priority boarding. We didn't have any excursions planned for this port. Ketchikan is a good town to walk around in. Creek Street is cute but again, very touristy. We had lunch in town, bought some final souvenirs, checked email at an Internet cafe and went back to the ship. On the last sea day, a pod of Orcas swam along side the ship for about a half hour. Unfortunately, I was out of film and the digital camera just wasn't 't fast enough to catch them. The image is certainly burned in my brain though. One other highlight to mention: The people that I met through the Cruise Critic Board were great. We had arranged to meet for cocktails the night before the cruise at the Pan Pacific and also at the pool bar on the day of embarkation. I felt like wherever I went, I knew people. The Cruise Critic Party was good. The Cruise Director (Ray Carr), the Social Hostess and the Assistant Hotel Manager all attended. We were able to ask a ton of questions and it was both informative and fun. Thanks to the Infinity staff for making us feel so important! A great trip overall. The Infinity and her staff were top notch. A True Departure - most definitely. Here is the link for some of the pictures that I took: http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/romoffm Be sure to click on the slideshow link rather than viewing each picture separately. I will be happy to answer any questions!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures ... Read More
Yes, I am back to reality - suitcases are unpacked and laundry is done. Really a wonderful trip overall. I have posted some of the pictures on Yahoo and you can view them at the website address at the end of my post. Some of the pictures that are included are of our room 7203, which was an aft room with a huge balcony and of the Penthouse Suite. We met some very nice people (Wayne & Carol) who were gracious enough to invite us to the Penthouse Suite a couple of times. We saw the Hubbard Glacier from the Penthouse - but more on that later. The Review: This was the second cruise for my husband and me and both have been with Celebrity. We were on the Millennium last November. The Infinity is a beautiful, clean ship and almost identical to the Millennium. I really only have two negative criticisms about our cruise on the Infinity, so I will just get that over with now and get on to the good stuff. As I said the Infinity is almost identical to the Millennium and that includes the menus and the entertainment. We wished that there had been more variety. Granted, we went back with Celebrity because we loved what they had to offer, but we just wish there would have been a difference between the two ships. We think that the menus were exactly the same on our Caribbean cruise as on the Alaska cruise. The production shows were exactly the same. They were good mind you, just the same with different singers and dancers. The second negative thing I have to say was leaving the ship. We had to wait for more than an hour once we got to the lounge before we were allowed to leave the ship. Once we did leave the ship everything went very smooth. Ok, now to the good stuff... We drove from Colorado to Vancouver. A great road trip with plenty of good scenery. Vancouver was beautiful and we stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel the night before the cruise. It is very expensive, but definitely worth the splurge. The Pan Pacific is right at Canada Place. In the morning when we were ready to board the ship, we just called the bell captain and they came and got all of our luggage. We didn't see the luggage again until it was outside our stateroom door. We parked our car at CruisePark, (www.cruisepark.com) which was easy and rather inexpensive. It cost about $62 US for parking for the eight nights - not bad. We dropped our car off at their lot, which was about a quarter mile from Canada Place and they shuttled us back to the Pan Pacific. When we got off the ship, they sent a shuttle to come and get us and had our car ready to go. They totally helped with the luggage. I would recommend them. If you use CruisePark you can make reservations in advance from their website. Embarkation was a breeze. If you are a Captain's Club member, I would suggest telling anyone you meet with a Celebrity nametag that. We were put in front of many people and were among the first to board. They had special check in tables for CC members and there wasn't a line at all. Check in took about two minutes and then we had to wait to clear US Customs. After about a 15 minute wait, CC members were allowed to board after people in wheel chairs and parents with small children. If you have a Passport, bring it. They barely look at you - makes things move right along. Once we boarded the ship, we were greeted with champagne. A white- gloved attendant showed us to our room and helped with our carry-on baggage. We were in room 7203, a category 1C aft cabin with an enormous balcony - in fact, the balcony felt like the same size as the room. There was plenty of storage and other than the color scheme and the giant balcony, was exactly the same as our room on the Millennium. We had spectacular weather for pretty much the entire cruise. Leaving Vancouver and going under the Lion's Gate Bridge was breathtaking. When the ship left port, we were on Deck 11. The pool band was playing and Bon Voyage Drinks were being passed around. The waiters were not pushy with the drinks, but they were there if you needed them to be. Vancouver has a beautiful skyline that is only enhanced by a view of Mount Baker in the background. Food & Service Although the menus were the same, the food was delicious and plentiful. I love the breakfast buffet with all of the fresh baked breads and the omelets that are cooked to order. The French toast is quite good too. The buffet workers were always friendly. The waiters carried the buffet trays for women to your table when you were done getting your food. We did have lunch in the Trellis (main) Dining room once. We had great tablemates at that lunch, but overall I preferred the buffet for lunch. We dined in the Trellis every night, except the last formal night when we dined at the S. S. United States. I met with the Maitre'D on the day we left to check our table assignment. I was not pleased that we were originally seated by the entry doors to the dining room. I tried to grease the Maitre'D with a twenty dollar bill to get a better table but he said that wasn't necessary because he still couldn't help me. As a last straw, I finally had to pull the "birthday card" since it was actually my birthday that day to get a better table. We were placed at an eight-person table a few tables away from the Captain's table on the fourth deck - the first floor of the dining room. We had a great view out of the large picture windows behind the Captain's table. We sat with two Russian couples that reside in Los Angeles, and a couple from Chicago. A fun table overall, but we will request a six person table the next time we cruise. The dining room gets a bit noisy and it was hard to hear the people that were on the opposite side of the table from where we were. The Infinity serves 8,000 meals a day and every meal I got was hot and cooked to order. I would say that the dining room food was excellent. Each night our waiter Andre would tell us about the menu and give his recommendation for the night. I will admit that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I had steak every night, except when they had lobster and then I had Prime Rib and Lobster. If we wanted something all we had to do was ask. We had pretty slow cocktail service on the first night of the cruise and one of the Russian couples complained about it. Boy, did we get the "full court press" the following night. We had a new cocktail server who was very attentive and fast at getting the cocktails. The Maitre'D came and apologized and then bought the table a bottle of champagne to share. Our Assistant Waiter, Punto knew that my husband liked iced tea and always brought him two iced teas at the beginning of each dinner. I had purchased a soda card (about $40), which is good for fountain soda drinks throughout the cruise. If you have more than two sodas a day, this is a good value. The new and improved cocktail server knew I had a soda card and automatically brought me a Diet Coke each night and it was replaced as soon as it was empty. We dined at the S.S. United States on the last formal night. For an additional $25 per person you really can't go wrong. It is worth it alone just in the service and personal attention that you will receive during this amazing experience. Each dish is delivered and set down at the table at the same time, usually accompanied by a "Voila!" Fine crystal and silver are used in this dining room. I especially liked the crystal old fashioned salt well on the table. The food was great. I had the goat cheese soufflE - and yes it is as good as everyone says it is. My husband had the lobster soup, which was delicious. We both had the Steak Diane, which was cooked for us table-side. The cheese course is excellent with a good variety of choices. For desert, I had the Crepes Suzette (also cooked table-side) and my husband had the Chocolate soufflE - he wished he would have also ordered the Crepes Suzette, which was truly outstanding. We spent a small fortune on alcohol on this night. We had wonderful champagne at $17 a glass to start, a good red wine from Central California, and I finished it off with a dessert wine. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and was able to spend more time with us than in the main dining room, which is probably why we drank so much that night. Our room steward, Frank was great. My husband commented that it took years for me to learn his schedule, but it only took Frank about two days to learn it. He just knew when we would be gone and whenever we came back, the room was clean. On the first day I asked for an extra towel and didn't have to ask again. Celebrity does have new chocolates for the pillows, more like a truffle actually. It was very difficult going to bed after the cruise without seeing one of the chocolates on my pillow. Don't worry, I am adjusting. Ports & Scenery First of all, let me just say that the scenery that we saw was more beautiful than I could have even hoped for. We live in Colorado with a view of the Rocky Mountains and in my opinion, the scenery was far better in British Columbia and Alaska. Inside Passage What a treat to be able to cruise and constantly see a changing landscape. My husband had a GPS unit and a detailed map and loved keeping track of where we were, and where we were going. Juneau In Juneau, we chose to go whale watching with Captain Larry's whale watching. They have a toll-free number on their website and you can call and make reservations. They fill up quick as they are highly recommended on the Ports of Call board here on the Cruise Critic. The cost was about $100 per person - they charge you half when you make the reservation and the other half the night before your excursion. The tour office is an easy walk from where the ships dock and they take you in a bus to Aulk Bay where the whale watching boat is docked. The boat is small and holds about 25 passengers. On this tour, we saw Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Seals and about a dozen Humpback Whales. The boat is equipped with an underwater microphone and you can hear the whales singing. They sing louder right before they surface. You can see great from all sides of the ship. They provide binoculars if you don't have your own. Even though it was overcast on this day, it didn't rain. We had a fantastic view of the Mendenhall Glacier from the whale watching boat. My biggest mistake was only bringing three rolls of film - I burned through it pretty quick. Juneau, the town, was quite the tourist trap. The Red Dog Saloon had good food and entertainment - a funny piano player singing songs and making fun of all of the tourists. The Alaska Fudge shop did have great fudge. Other than that, nothing very original. Skagway In Skagway, we rented a car from Avis and went out to explore the Yukon and drive on the Alaska Highway. This was the only day on the entire trip that it rained and it only rained for a little while in the morning. We drove almost the exact same route as the Yukon Pass Rail Road - a popular tour offered by the cruise ship. We stopped in Carcross because it is just an adorable small little town. The people that work in the General Store are very friendly and gave us a good tip about visiting Canyon. I had read on the Ports of Call board that they have great ice cream in the General Store. It was so good that not only did we have it on the way to White Horse, we stopped for a second helping on the way back. Get the Pralines and Cream if you go - you won't be disappointed. We stopped at Emerald Lake and it was very beautiful. The pictures that we took here look like someone superimposed our pictures over the lake - it just doesn't look real. White Horse is a pretty big town and the capital of the Yukon. I found the town to be nice and not too touristy. We had lunch in town at a small deli and then drove on the Alaska Highway for a while. We saw signs for Fairbanks and Anchorage - very cool. On the border checkpoint back in Skagway, they actually stamped our passports with a "Skagway Alaska" stamp - something very novel in today's day and age. It is a good memento. Hubbard Glacier We had a very bright and sunny day for viewing the Hubbard Glacier. WOW, WOW, WOW. What a sight, and what sounds!! On the way to the Glacier we were able to see an unobstructed view of Mt. Elias at over 18,000 feet high. The Hubbard Glacier was a definite highlight of the trip. The ship was able to get within one and a half ships lengths away from the Glacier. The Glacier is six miles long and 300 feet high. It has a bright blue color. On the day we were there, there was a lot of action going on. The calving was amazing. Calving is when large pieces of the Glacier fall off into the water. The sound is a mixture of Snapping, Popping, Crackling and an occasional burst of thunder. It was a great show, Mother Nature at her best. We stayed for at least an hour, maybe longer in front of the Glacier. The ship made several big spins in front of the Glacier so there were great views to be had from everywhere on the ship. The crew was passing out delicious pea soup in bread bowls (no cost) and offering stainless steel mugs of hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys ($7.50). I must say both were excellent and the stainless steel cup is a nice souvenir. For the better part of the viewing of the Glacier, we were on the 11th Deck but it was rather crowded. Once the ship started making turns, we went back to our aft cabin to view. When we were standing out there, our friends that were in the Penthouse Suite were also on their deck and invited us down to their suite. There were several of us from the Cruise Critic Board hanging out and watching the Glacier. What a great day! Ketchikan Again, we had beautiful sunny weather. It was warm and we were dressed in shorts. I felt sorry for all of the people lugging jackets and sweatshirts around. We had to tender into Ketchikan. Again, we said we were Capitan's Club members and we were given priority boarding. We didn't have any excursions planned for this port. Ketchikan is a good town to walk around in. Creek Street is cute but again, very touristy. We had lunch in town, bought some final souvenirs, checked email at an Internet cafe and went back to the ship. On the last sea day, a pod of Orcas swam along side the ship for about a half hour. Unfortunately, I was out of film and the digital camera just wasn 't fast enough to catch them. The image is certainly burned in my brain though. One other highlight to mention: The people that I met through the Cruise Critic Board were great. We had arranged to meet for cocktails the night before the cruise at the Pan Pacific and also at the pool bar on the day of embarkation. I felt like wherever I went, I knew people. The Cruise Critic Party was good. The Cruise Director (Ray Carr), the Social Hostess and the Assistant Hotel Manager all attended. We were able to ask a ton of questions and it was both informative and fun. Thanks to the Infinity staff for making us feel so important! A great trip overall. The Infinity and her staff were top notch. A True Departure - most definintely. Here is the link for some of the pictures that I took: http://f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/romoffm Be sure to click on the slideshow link rather than viewing each picture separately. I will be happy to answer any questions!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
This was our third cruise, first on Celebrity. Other two were on NCL and RCCL. Our children preferred RCCL, but we loved the more formal cruise experience of Celebrity and the wonderful pampering. We were particularly wowed by the ... Read More
This was our third cruise, first on Celebrity. Other two were on NCL and RCCL. Our children preferred RCCL, but we loved the more formal cruise experience of Celebrity and the wonderful pampering. We were particularly wowed by the exceptional service everywhere on board. One of our group had sailed Crystal in Alaska, and could not say it was any better than the Infinity. If anything, he preferred the many more choices available on the Infinity to the smaller ship he took with Crystal. Alaska in the summer is a great way to beat the heat. So many exciting excursions to choose from. We went kayaking, hiking, took the railroad, and went salmon fishing. We were too chicken and cheap to try heli-hiking. Our daughter went for a dog sled ride (on wheels because there's no snow in the summer) in Skagway and raved about it. We booked the excursions on our own through the internet sites of the chamber of commerce of each city. All of the excursion operators were truly wonderful. Very accommodating and totally reliable. What can you say about the Infinity? I can't say enough about it. We had 4 of us in an inside stateroom, and the cabin was very well laid out. We had swim suits, shorts, sweaters, jackets, rain slickers-somehow there was room for it all. There was actually a fifth berth in the cabin-a pull out chair-and if economically necessary, two average size adults and three children could fit. The cabin steward invisibly pulls the beds down at night and puts them up during the day, and is a great help in keeping everything neat and orderly. There was always something available to eat regardless of when we returned from our excursions or how late we slept. The buffet breakfast was served until 12, at which time the buffet lunch commenced immediately. There was pizza and pasta at 3, sushi at 6 and ice cream all day (no charge). Instead of having to be herded into midnight buffets, uniformed waiters with trays of hors doeuvres and pastries patrolled all the public areas at 11:30pm. A truly elegant touch. The dining room was very formal, with a harpist or trio serenading at dinner. We thought the food was terrific. Everything was nicely sauced and very tasty. Not a simple feat when there were about 1,600 passengers on our cruise. The cremes, meringues, and flans were a particular treat, each one flavored differently, never dull. The specialty restaurant, SS United States, was spectacular, but may not be for everyone, as it lasts about 3 hours because all the food is prepared to order. An unusual treat was the spa cuisine, available for breakfast and lunch in the AquaSpa. Beautifully presented and delicious. I thought the party band, Onyx, was terrific. The two man band in the Rendezvous Longe was something of an acquired taste. Ditto the piano player in Michaels Pub. But the musical productions were fantastic-elaborately staged and costumed with wonderful singers and dancers who presented everything from Phantom to La Boheme. There was even a classical quartet that played before and after dinner in the coffee bar. Thankfully, cigars could only be enjoyed on the outside aft deck. Also, we hardly noticed any cigarette smoke, except in the crowded casino. Kudos to Celebrity for managing that matter in a civilized fashion. Also for never announcing of activities over the PA system. There really is so much more to talk about. Let me just say it was all incredible- elegance and class from beginning to end. The only negative I can think of is that it is not the best choice for singles. 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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