Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by allis154
- Sail Date: September 2006
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
About a month before we left, we were informed that our cruise would be shortened by on day, and in compensation, we would receive a ship board credit based on our accommodation level. As we were in a suite, this turned out to be $350.00 per person. Celebrity also paid for that one night in the Hilton hotel near Union Square. They also included transfers from the Hilton to the dock on the day of sail. This delay was caused by the Infinity being in drydock to fix one of her pods. We thought the compensation was fair.
We flew into San Francisco on September 19 and stayed at the Tuscan Inn Fisherman's Wharf. A lovely hotel, with great staff and a pleasant decor. We had a room overlooking, set back from, a main street. We were concerned about noise when we first got in, but in the four nights we stayed there, we had no issues with the noise.
On September 23, we had to change hotels to the Hilton, and Celebrity would not pay for the extra night at the Tuscan for us, although they did for others. One of the few faults on the whole trip. The check out at the Tuscan was a breeze, and the check in at the Hilton was just as easy. Our room at the Hilton was adequate, but much smaller that our Tuscan Inn room. We found out from the front desk that there was 1300 Infinity passengers at the Hilton the same night.
Celebrity had an information desk set up in the hall and information posted on boards. We were given the option of checking in that night and getting assigned a transfer number for the next day to the dock. After hearing that there was so many of us in the hotel, we opted out of using the transfers, preferring to use a taxi. Check in was easy and efficient.
Checking out of the hotel the next morning was quick, and soon we were in a cab, trying to get to the dock. Several streets were closed, so it took a few minutes to get there. We were met at the cab by a Celebrity person; he had our luggage whisked away and then directed to the door. Here we were met by two Celebrity people and given more directions. Then was security, more Celebrity people, and more security. Up the ramps to embark, and had our picture taken. Then, more security, and finally, we stepped on board. We were greeted with a choice of champagne or mimosas and then escorted to our cabin. We had left our hotel room at 9:30, and we were in our cabin at 10:10.
We had sky suite 6127. Great cabin, lovely bath, lots of closet space, tons of storage space and a good sized verandah. One thing that we didn't realize was that this level was above the life boats, and, as such, all the mechanical stuff needed for raising and lowering these was just below and in front of our verandah. Most of the time, it didn't affect the views. The other thing, the cabin two doors down could see almost all of our balcony, and us theirs. No real privacy. The only other complaint we had about the room was that one of the closet lights would not stay turned off. This may seem petty, but it is quite bright, and at night proved to be bothersome. We reported it, but the part need to fix it was not available. Work crews were in several times to do minor repairs, like sealing the bathtub. We found the room to be good shape, with only a couple of little areas that showed wear.
Alfred Dias, our butler, was fabulous! No task was too small or too large for him to do. We asked that our fruit bowl have only grapes and bananas, and that is what we got all but one day. After a long day in port, Alfred had tea waiting for us. We never knew how good tea could be until that day! The canapes were pretty bad, but Alfred brought us a lovely cheese tray instead. Alfred also brought us the Canadian news whenever it was available. Edgar was our room steward and was good. A few little things irked us, like a lack of a garbage bag in the bathroom. However, he made up for this by bringing lots of boxes of soft kleenex when we had come down with a head cold.
Derry Benard, our waiter, Ahmet, our assistant waiter and Kala, the assistant maitre'd, were great! My husband asked for double vegetables with his super, and received them every night. One night, I suffered with from an allergy to another passenger's perfume, and couldn't sit at our regular table. Kala found us another table, out of the way and tried his best to make dinner enjoyable. I ended up leaving early anyway. Benard, Ahmet and Kala all enquired the next day how I was feeling. Comments on food in general and specific will follow later.
We found the Infinity to be in good shape, showing little wear. Work crews were seen in a variety of places doing things from replacing carpet to painting and varnishing railings. Cleaning crews were very busy clean and disinfecting public areas, like railing and elevators. Carpets were also disinfected with strong smelling stuff. One place that we noticed didn't get cleaned was the balcony doors. We found the decor to be lovely, but the art was definitely pop and modern. In several of the staircases, the statues were glued down and broken. The rest of the ship was lovely.
We boarding with plans to try all sorts of things, but didn't seem to have time to do everything. We tried the Thalassotherapy pool, but found it to be very smelly, and a scum on the surface. Breezes pool and hot tubs were always popular, but never too full. We never tried the Cova Cafe pastries, always being full from what ever meal it was that we had just eaten.
We had a number of guest lectures, most of which we attended, and all were enjoyed. The Celebrity shows were as better then the ones we saw on Cunard. Guest performers were mostly great, although the constant plugging to buy their CDS after the show was annoying. The movies that were shown were recent (within the last year), but not new. The same movies were shown both the first and second week. On tv, there was a variety of shows, although there were days that we didn't have a signal. News, cartoons, discovery, movies and history shows were on, and repeated several times. Old shows, like Remington Steel, were also available, and were also repeated several times. Sail-away parties were a lot of fun and the various musical talents were really good.
Our cruise was 14 days long, a full Panama Canal Transit. Ports included Cabo San Lucas (cancelled due to the shortened cruise), Acapulco, Huatulco, Puntarenas, Panama and Aruba. Our favorite for shopping, was Cristobal Pier. Lots of venders, but not pushy sales. Our favorite for overall atmosphere was Huatulco. Little town, great beach and great scenery. Aruba was a very close second. Acapulco was dirty and had very pushy venders who practically assaulted you while walking around.
We did several excursions booked through the ship. We booked one in advance and the rest shortly after we boarded. We also toured around on our own in all ports but Puntarenas. In Acapulco, my husband did the Palma Sola Archeological Site and thoroughly enjoyed it. It involved climbing 500 uneven, broken rock stairs, for those who might be interested in doing it. That night, we did the night Cliff Divers and tour of the city. The Cliff Divers themselves were amazing, and the guide very informative, but we wouldn't do it again.
In Huatulco, we did the La Crucecita Scenic Drive. Beautiful scenery and a great guide. Very touristy and some very pushy venders. The town of Huatulco was very pretty and quiet. A really good beach and a really cute town center. The large army presence was disconcerting; we couldn't decide if we felt more safe, or less safe with them there.
Puntarenas was next. We booked the Tabacon Hot Springs and Arenal Volcano tour in advance. This was one tour that we really wanted to do. A word of caution to anyone thinking about booking tours here on your own. After our experience, I wouldn't recommend it. They roads and traffic are really bad, and tour buses are routinely delayed in returning to the ship. There has been several times where people have been left behind.
There was a delay in getting of the ship, and lots of confusion as the all clear to depart announcement wasn't given until late. Our tour was supposed to leave at 7:30, put did not get away until 7:50. Sergio, our guide was very informative and the driver was good. The bus was a new one, but was very cramped for space. The drive was very long, and the roads and bridges were treacherous in some areas. We almost went off a bridge twice.
Costa Rica was beautiful, and we got to see a lot of it on the way to the hot springs. After traveling for 1.5 hours, we had a stop for bathroom only, no purchases please, shopping on the way back break. After another two hours, we finally arrived at the volcano, which we saw erupt. There wasn't a stop here, and the bus continued on to the hot springs. We were given two hours, from the time the bus arrived in the parking lot, before we had to meet, fully dressed for lunch. We were herded to one section of tables in the restaurant, and not allowed to sit anywhere else, so that couples and parties had to split up to find seats to eat. Lunch was a buffet and the food was good. We were given a glass of water, a glass of some type of fruit juice and were offered a beer or pop. After lunch, it was back on the bus for the trip back to port. We left the hot springs around 2:00 and arrived at the ship around 6:30, two hours later than we were due back. We had a twenty minute stop to shop and use the washroom during ride back to the pier. At no time were we offered water on the bus. The shipped sailed at 7:00 pm, and the were rumors that not everybody made it back on time. The hot springs were beautiful, but the time we spent there was not worth the bus ride.
We didn't do an excursion during the canal transit. It being our first time through, we decide to stay on board and see the whole thing. It was fascinating. We got to touch the wall of canal from deck four.
In Aruba, we did another ship excursion, Aruba's Natural Wonders. The guide on this tour was very young and not very informative. We saw the Butterfly farm, which was fun and beautiful and the Natural Bridge, which reminded us of home, but on a smaller scale. We also the aloe factory, which was boring. After the tour, was walked around the city, which we found to be beautiful. We got to see wild iguanas and lizards in a park on the coast. We also did some shopping, but found the stores to be very westernized, with a lot of the same stuff we could buy at home.
A couple of words about the food. There was always lots of food and lots of choices. Dinner the Trellis Restaurant was good with very few exceptions. My quail was really tough, while my husbands was really tender. Food always had good flavor and was never bland. All menus lean heavily towards meats (beef, lamb, veal, chicken, duck, quail, and seafood were all served), with very little vegetable. Vegetarian menus had to specially asked for, and not included with the main menus. Service was great and, most of the time, quick. Any issues were always dealt with quietly.
We celebrated our anniversary on board, so that meant a cake presentation in the dining room. Not one for wanting a scene or undue attention, we made it perfectly clear we didn't want the singing thing to happen. While it was obvious that neither Kala, Benard or Ahmet were really comfortable with our request, they made the best of it. They brought our cake with a quiet congratulations, which was perfect as far as we were concerned. Benard then cut the cake into a heart and arrow, which we thought was really cute.
Formal nights were very popular, and well dressed. Most of the men wore tuxes and the women wore a variety of appropriate attire. Having had previous cruise experience only with Cunard, which is very formal, we felt more comfortable with Celebrity, which, we found, is considerably less formal. We found most people conformed to the suggested dress code for the full evening. As the cruise went on, the feel of the ship got a little more casual, but the last formal night was still well attended.
We had room service breakfast and lunch a few times, and that was great. Alfred was always on time and brought everything we asked for, including waffles. Most breakfasts and lunches were usually in the Ocean Grill. We enjoyed several of the themes and the sandwiches were always good. We tried the pasta bar once, but found the whole wheat pasta to be very undercooked and inedible. We had room service for supper one night, after regular dining hours. This is when we found the room service to be very limited, with little vegetarian options.
We ate in the SS United States one night. The food was good, and service was also good, if a little pretentious. An experience that you should have once, but we are not keen on doing it again. We didn't do the wine pairing, and would be tempted to do that, if we were to go again. Overall, I don't think it was worth extra $30.00. We were also invited to an Elegant Tea here the first sea day. It was nice, but much preferred the tea Alfred brought, or tea in the Ocean Grill. Tea on the Cunard ships is, by far, superior to the tea we experienced on the Infinity. This is one area where Celebrity could really improve.
If you are in suite, your butler will deliver canapes at around 5:00. They are as awful as they could be. We had them three nights, then switched, at Alfred's suggestion, to a cheese platter, which was really good. We also had a fruit bowl that Alfred refilled everyday. We asked for just grapes and bananas, as we didn't eat the rest. I guess they recycle the fruit between staterooms, as one day we received the regular fruit bowl. The oranges were so rotten, they stuck to the doily in the bottom of the bowl, and the rest of the fruit was stuck as well. Perhaps rotating the fruit bowls between cabins is not the best way to go.
We had bar service in a variety of the bars, with our favorite being Dali at the Martini Bar. We found all the drinks to good, the service prompt and pleasant and the bread sticks fabulous. Dali was the best by far and we really looked forward to the half hour we spent at the bar with him before supper. He made me a different martini every day, and they were all good! We did find that the drink of the day were a little weak and all the bartenders should take lessons from Ramon on the making of a Chi Chi, as his was fabulous and the rest mediocre (I had several from five different bars).
Ramon was the head bartender. We were introduced to him on the second day, when we were trying to get a problem on our account resolved. We had been to guest relations the day before and again on the second day, without any success. Guest relations was pretty well useless, and, as we soon learned, it was just easier to find the person we need to speak with on our own. Our problem was that we were charged for a drink we never ordered. After lunch on the second day, we talked to the assistant maitre'd in the Ocean Grill, Luis. This is where the drink was charged. He then contacted Ramon, who talked to us. Within a couple of hours the charge had been reversed. Guest relations couldn't do that in thirty hours.
Ft. Lauderdale was our disembarkation point. We chose to not use the transfers offered, and to get a cab to the airport ourselves. The luggage issue needs to be addressed. Having the luggage divided by color only, but the signs saying color and number was very confusing and led to lots of frustration in finding your luggage. A quick trip through customs and then we were on the way to airport. Uneventful trips on the most comfortable economy class planes we have ever been on and then we were home.
Overall, a fabulous trip and are already booked for our next one on Celebrity!
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