Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by hybrn8
- Sail Date: April 2008
- Destination: Alaska
We flew into Oakland the morning of our trip and were promptly greeted and driven to the pier by the folks at supershuttle. We knew we would be early but that just gave us time to sit and watch the ocean while the Infinity disgorged hordes upon the streets and sidewalks of San Francisco. It was not a pretty sight! Total chaos, more like it!
We were allowed to check in about 11:30 and we were glad we were in concierge class as the line for "express check-in" was anything but! After the usual pointless and insulting security screenings and checks (which I never experienced on the other 3 trips I was on as these were small ships - 60 to 350 pax), we were sent up a ramp only to encounter an endless line of folks trying to board - they were all being screened, yet again, by a single (yep, one!) guy. No one, I repeat no one, could have accessed that area unless they were born while their mother was waiting in line so why it was necessary to slow things down even further eluded us.
Once onboard, we went to our respective cabins to drop off hand luggage. We had planned to go into Chinatown for dim sum but the lines to get back on the ship were so irritating that we opted for a bite in the buffet. It was tolerable but we don't like buffets and rarely visit them while on ships except for early AM coffee/tea prior to proper breakfast served by a nice man!
The luggage arrived in fits and starts over a 4 hour period and that was irritating as concierge class is meant to provide priority for such matters. The cabin we selected - usually do guarantees on big ships - was chosen because of its bump-out balcony. The cabin was cozy and acceptable although the soft furnishings and upholstered pieces were somewhat tired. The bed is a poor second to HAL beds. The balcony floor was long overdue for a replacement - maybe they will paint some of the rust and get decent furniture while they're at it! Urge anyone reading this to get the bump-out balconies as anything else is too small to enjoy comfortably.
Dinner was meant to be a table for 3 but we got seated at a six top - this got fixed the next night and we were fine. We like our own company and to be able to eat at our own speed. Meals were pretty and some were very good. But, it is banquet food so no surprises there! We were, however, very disappointed with the Alternative Casual Dining venue on this ship - the food choices were poor (pizza???) and quality not much better. Had 2 super meals in the upcharge restaurant - well worth it. Just too much rich food for daily dining or we'd go there every night.
We, not surprisingly, don't do ship excursions so will just highlight what we independently did in the various ports: Victoria - previous visit on Cruise West had us in harbor near government buildings. The Infinity docks across town and it is a lovely drive (or walk, if the weather cooperates) to where we took a whale-watching cruise on a little boat. There were 8 pax, the captain and a naturalist and her dog, Sidney. We went looking for orcas as there are 3 pods which live in the waters around Victoria year round. Weren't found day we went out. It was a great day to be on the water, though. Nanaimo - rented a car from Budget which we collected after a tender ride to port and then a van ride to rental office (5 minutes). We thought we'd get to see lots of lovely scenery but managed to see lots of strip malls. Did have a great pub lunch before going back to pier where we were unlucky to be behind 200 folks who'd just come back from a tour. Concierge class tender privileges did not apply! Ketchikan - I went on a float plane by myself with the folks who have the yellow planes. There were 4 other pax. After lunch, husband and I took a little bus tour about the town. It is a sad and seedy place - very downmarket and poorly maintained. No pride of ownership? Juneau - rented a car from the jolly ladies at Rent a Wreck and toured til the road ran out. We saw some gorgeous sights and had the place to ourselves. After another pub meal, back to the ship for the guys and I did some shopping. There was a huge line in the pouring rain to get back on the ship - bad planning on someone's part. Icy Strait Point - stayed onboard. It was cold and dreary and wet and we wanted the ship to ourselves. Heard lots of negative comments about the place. Many of these comments were similar in other ports - expensive shore excursions to look for wildlife that wasn't expected for months or fish for salmon that don't show up for weeks. Port Rupert - here we did take ship tour as we wanted to see grizzlies and we did - 5!! And, a humpback whale! Not really recommended as 90% of the time we were gone (5 hours) was spent getting to and fro viewing area. Hubbard Glacier - didn't get off the ship but got lots of sights we'll remember. It was cold and wet and many folks spent most of their time on decks. We camped out in the Observation Lounge early and stayed there for several hours with occasional forays into the great out of doors.
Leaving the ship was easy because we were prepared, thanks to help of folks on this and tripadvisor boards. We were in 2nd group leaving and had a car rental with AVIS organized so we could drive down to Seattle to fly out next AM. This was, hands down, the easiest departure from a big ship we have had. An AVIS rep was waiting for us and another couple at the pier. However, not everyone was so lucky - the taxi line was massive and we were told that it'd be a 2 hour wait by 10 that morning. But, we got our car and headed to the border where we were in line for 90 minutes trying to get into our own country. Absolutely no provision is made for US citizens returning home - having lived, worked and travelled all over the world, the 3 of us have never met border agents as downright nasty and unfriendly as the workers for the US government. Overall, we'd give the cruise an '8'. Points were lost because there was NOWHERE to have peace and quiet any time of day or night. Constantly blaring racket (jazz fusion at 6:30 AM is example) made sitting and reading difficult. Spa was in hyper-sell mode as over 600 of the 1800 pax were British and they don't use spas. Likewise, they don't use the casino so husband had trouble getting hold 'em games. Further points were lost because the ship is so big that we were constantly at the opposite end of the ship from where we wanted to go. And, the custom of having live music during the daytime has disappeared along with lots of other thoughtful touches. But, we'll go with Celebrity again as we prefer them - hard to say why - to HAL.
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