Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by lexmiller
- Sail Date: May 2015
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2A
Plaguing this cruise, supposedly, were the final remaining vestiges of the norovirus. The Infinity had been afflicted with it, as we came to realize, throughout the South and Central American itinerary. People get off the ship in these countries and eat things they should not, and get back on board with a case of Montezuma's Revenge and spread it due to their poor hygiene practices. The noro overall is a feature accompanying the Central and South American itineraries, period. It is appalling to me to observe passengers coughing madly into their HANDS, when everyone knows that you are supposed to cough or sneeze into your elbow. I believe that Celebrity needs to get aggressive on the South and Central American itineraries when the ship turns into the SS Dysentery, and preach openly about proper hygiene - wash your hands often and NEVER cough or sneeze into your hands. People just don't get it. We heard that there were three people sick on board at the beginning of the cruise - I know for a fact that one of them did not have noro at all, that it was something else entirely, but the ship people wanted to be sure that with the Alaskan itinerary season underway, that any and all sickness no matter what the source, was squelched at the get go. For 72 hours, the buffet was in lock down - not only could you not serve yourself your own food, but you couldn't even pick up a plate or your own napkin-wrapped bundle of silverware! To get coffee in the morning was a nightmare - tables were set up as barriers in front of the coffee stations, with staff pouring the coffee for you, giving you packets of sugar. Guests were encouraged to order via room service. Menus from Cafe Al Bacio, and all of the venues, were removed. Even the cloth hand towels in the public bathrooms were removed. Forget about a bread basket at your dinner table, or the trio of hummus, butter and herbed cream cheese. Bread was doled out individually by your server. 72 hours of the strictest restrictions were endured, but by the last several days of the cruise, all was back to normal. Even the Top Chef at Sea activity returned, which had been eliminated in the prior cruise, as it involved food and it was seen as a possible conveyance of the virus, if someone participated who was sick.
A big disappointment when the restrictions were underway, was that the captain was not forthcoming with information. I remember on Solstice, on an Australian/New Zealand cruise, we were encountering some very rough seas. The Captain actually made an informational video which he aired on the cabin TVs, with him in front of a weather map, showing the storm, the route that he was taking to avoid it, etc, explaining everything. The passengers really appreciated the transparency. The exact same thing should be done when the ship is facing a health problem. The passengers crave accurate information. We heard that only 3 passengers were sick, and that it probably wasn't even noro for any of them - so the measures that were put into place seemed punitive! In any case, people still had a great time on the cruise. The staff on board was excellent, striving always for the passengers to have a wonderful time.
Embarkation on May 15 at Pier 27 in San Francisco was a horrible fiasco. Due to the CDC sterilization measures and inspection before departing to Alaska, along with the huge delays getting the luggage off of the ship from the Panama Canal disembarkation in the morning, the crew was dreadfully overworked, with even the entertainment staff enlisted to sterilize cabins. The ship departed over 2 hours late. We were not effected too much since this was a back to back for us, so after our day touring San Francisco, we showed our new Seapass cards and got back onto the ship, though most passengers at 3pm, were only beginning to be processed. Tempers were high in the boat drill, many passengers grumbling, still toting their carry on luggage, unhappy not unsurprisingly or without warrant. Still, I'm not sure what else Celebrity could have done, given the CDC requirements, and the problem with Pier 27 and getting the luggage off from the morning for the prior cruisers. It was the 'perfect storm' of mishaps. All staff were patient. But I do believe that more specific information should have been transparently shared with the passengers to enlist our sympathy, to make us understand, rather than leaving us questioning and surmising.
We had spectacular weather on this Alaska sailing! It was actually 80 degrees in Juneau, yes, EIGHTY! We cruise passengers looked like such tourists, all bundled up, whereas the locals were all in shorts and t-shirts! We booked primarily all Celebrity shore excursions, which through experience we have found uniformly to be of excellent value and run by the best contractors in each port of call. We took the fabulous excursion, "Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter" and found all of the workers on the glacier wearing short sleeves and shorts! It was a stunning day, in fact the weather at each port was fabulous. We highly recommend the dog sledding excursion in Juneau, which we did in the afternoon. In the morning, we did our other favorite shore excursion of this cruise - "Taku Lodge Feast & 5 Glacier Seaplane" - spectacular in every respect!
Enrichment activities on this Alaska leg, I did not feel to be as comprehensive as those found on the Panama Canal leg - and not even close to the Alaska cruise we took this past September 2014 on Solstice. MickeyLive is not a naturalist. Sorry, MickeyLive, but he brought little to the table as far as Alaska info that I couldn't have googled. Last Sept, we had an onboard naturalist that my husband and I still talk about to this day, he gave us so many rich and detailed talks.
As far as dining, we did Select Dining, which is our 2nd choice to Aqua Class so that we can eat in Blu. However, on the Millennium Class ships, there are no handicapped accessible cabins, so, as I said, we then do Select as our 2nd choice. With Select, contrary to what some people say, you can always get a table in the server of your choice's station, if you want to, and request it when you reserve your table from night to night. You therefore develop a relationship with your server, they learn your preferences, etc. Our server in select, the wonderful Samson from India and his assistant server, Johnny, observed that our daughter needed help cutting her food - from that point on, Samson would serve her then immediately pick up her knife and fork and cut her meal for her - he was incredibly thoughtful and sweet. He also recognized that of the trio of hummus, butter and herbed cream cheese that is served with the nightly bread basket, that I had a strong preference for the hummus - so often, he would present me with my own personal ramekin of hummus!
As far as the Oceanview Buffet goes, well, the food itself was pretty good, but, we do not enjoy the layout at all of the buffet on the Millennium Class ships. The lay out of the buffet on the Solstice Class ships is so much better - but, I know, it's because the ships themselves are bigger, allowing for a more spacious layout, a better traffic flow, less congestion. On the Millennium Class ships, we try to avoid the buffet at all costs as it gets crowded and frustrating - I find myself saying that I'm simply not that hungry, that the annoyance is simply not worth it.
As far as specialty dining goes, we love Q-Sine, it is our favorite Celebrity specialty restaurant. Fleetwide, the absolute best lamb chops are to be found in the 'M Box' in Q-Sine - baby lamb chops, perfectly flavored, perfectly executed - moist, tasty, succulent! The service is excellent, we LOVE the side car cocktails, a great evening whenever we go. Lunch is now sometimes served in Q-Sine on sea days, but that doesn't work for us, as you are prone to eat more than you should, and to do that at lunch, meh, that ruins the whole day. Save this experience for dinner, enjoy! The SS United States, we find to be too traditional.
The Celebrity Activity Staff was hardworking and terrific as always. This was Rachel's, the activity manager, last cruise after a long 8 month contract! Her replacement, Germaine, overlapped this cruise, so the passengers had the pleasure of two hardworking activity managers! The cruise director, Esperanza, did not appear to have much chemistry with the workers. As I've said, we were back to back - the cruise director for the Panama Canal leg was Kyle Dodson, who was outstanding - fast, quick witted, informational, succinct. Esperanza was a very slow public speaker - it took her quite a long time to formulate her thoughts and express them, which was extremely annoying when she would speak at the end of the shows in the theater at night, as people wanted to get out and get on with their evenings. Her recorded spots on the cruise director tv channel were so painful to watch, that we avoided them. Esperanza seemed motivated to sell us things - upselling services I know is a big revenue generator, but she was so obvious about it, it was a big turn off. A huge misstep was on the very last night of the cruise after the show. People wanted to leave and get to their packing or have one last fun night on board. She talked on and on, telling us nothing useful. She said, and I quote, "we're docking in San Francisco at 7am" - that's it, that's all she said about it! No information about the procedural steps, nothing. She did instead go ON AND ON about the various theater staff, the lighting person, the stage manager, what a great job they did all cruise - sorry, but not the time to say this when people want to get on with their night. Yes, definitely mention the guest survey, that we need to fill it out when we get home, but don't tell me the names of the lighting crew on the last night of the cruise. I don't like to criticize an individual, and I am sure that as a person she is absolutely wonderful, but as a cruise director, well I don't think this is really her thing.
The Captain's Club hostess, Alexandra, and all Captain's Club events were excellent - we were made to feel welcome and pampered. The cocktail event in the Constellation Lounge from 5-7 pm was something we looked forward to every day.
Disembarkation at Pier 27 in San Francisco went flawlessly for us, a very different scene from May 15 and the fiasco people experienced getting onboard. We did a walk off with our luggage as we had a very early flight, and by 7:35am, we were off the ship and heading to a cab.
250,000+ people have entered their email