Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by vmbinexile
- Sail Date: December 2009
- Destination: South America
Enrichment - The enrichment programs were mixed. The on-board naturalist was excellent and provided well-considered presentations that sparked interest. He was available throughout the cruise in various venues and was quite approachable. Fellow travelers thought highly of his abilities as well. The port and cultural expert was more interested in self-promotion and name-dropping than he was in offering useful or interesting information about the ports or cultures we would visit. His talks were disjointed, disorganized and frankly, worthless to me. He was available to sign copies of his book on a daily basis and sales were fairly brisk: perhaps other passengers found him fascinating. The Celebrity dimensions program (focusing on health, food or enrichment) seemed to be a waste of time.
Dining - This was perhaps the worst part of the voyage. The quality and selection of food on board, with the exception of the SS United States, was on par with what I can find at my local 24-hour diner. The food was inedible in many cases and the selection extremely limited, with theme and variation on standard staples. Most annoying to me was that items on the menu differed substantially from what was served: heirloom tomatoes (menu) were, in fact, tough, tasteless, commercial tomatoes appropriate for a Whopper; pork loin (menu) was a piece of ham; maple syrup (menu) was a packet of corn syrup which didn't even have maple flavouring. In the end I ate all my dinners at the SS United States ($30 a night out of pocket) and struggled to find something to eat at breakfast and lunch. In fairness, the food services manager, the maitre'd and the executive chef offered to make me anything I wanted so long as they had the ingredients on-board. This is what ended up happening when I visited the SS United States, where their maitre'd personally prepared my meals table-side each night. I give him the highest marks. I should also point out that the food problems were not the result of problems in the ship, but, apparently, the result of corporate decisions to cut costs.
Entertainment - the musical entertainment on-board was very good in some areas: a jazz trio and a string quartet; average in others: a piano player/singer, a dance band. The production shows were sub-par: the troupe did not seem to be particularly enthused about their work. It is also the first time in my 30 years of cruising I have ever seen fat dancers. Perhaps more rehearsals would have helped on both counts. The headliner acts seemed to be composed of who they could scrape up and varied in quality. None of the acts were particularly memorable.
Service - Service was the highlight of the journey. From the stewards to the divisional heads to the information desk, everyone was courteous, professional, patient and efficient. My only problem was that there is an unspoken but very obvious sentiment that everyone is hungry to sell you something 24x7. When you tell a waiter "No, I do not want a drink", the look in his eyes says "Oh no! I am going to lose my job!" It is extremely uncomfortable. I never feel this way in shore-based establishments. I would much prefer for Celebrity to boost the price of the cruise a bit and quit pressing passengers to spend additional money.
Shore Excursions - These were uniformly awful. The guides were not particularly knowledgeable, the information covered was cursory at best and the destinations were, again, designed to put people in locations where they could best spend money, not get the most out of the ports. My recommendation is to avoid ship-sponsored tours and arrange for your own guides in every port.
Summary - I walked away from this voyage with a very bad taste in my mouth. I was looking for a luxury holiday with real luxury amenities: good food, good service, interesting destinations and got something which made me yearn for home every minute of every day. Celebrity has a reputation for being an up-market cruise line, but I think that reputation is the result of feedback from mass-market types who do not really know what up-market means. Their definition of up-market appears to be someone to make your bed for you every day and cook your meals, regardless of quality. This isn't enough for me, but it may very well satisfy the majority of their target demographic.
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