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BACKGROUND 2 sisters travelling to celebrate a milestone birthday on Celebrity Infinity for a roundtrip from Vancouver to Alaska 8-15 July 2018. We live in UK and Canada respectively and for us it was all about spending time together - doing it on a lovely cruise ship, in beautiful Alaska was certainly a bonus :-) We have sailed 5 times between us but this was the first with Celebrity and to Alaska. These are my thoughts/opinions – others will certainly disagree but I hope the review is useful to some. It is rather long so I’ve tried to split it into sections so you can disregard the information that is not useful to you! We had the $300 OBC and Classic drinks package as part of our booking. (We certainly did not drink enough to make it worth buying a drinks package ($55 pppd) but as a perk, built into the cruise price, it was very nice to just order a drink without having to sign for anything or think about the cost). We also had OBC from our TA along with a complimentary special dining. For some reason the TA OBC was not split equally across our two accounts but with a bit of effort, Guest Relations sorted this for us – part of it that we failed to spend was also refunded at the end of the cruise. VANCOUVER BOARDING/EMBARKATION DAY This is a beautiful city that we have visited regularly. The cruise terminal is poorly laid out. There were lots of staff milling about but they were of little help – giving minimal and poor instructions. We’d have joined a long queue for bag tags if it wasn’t for our own attention, despite having tags clearly already visible on our bags! We progressed fairly quickly until we reached long lines for the US customs. If you are American or Canadian the process is fairly quick but for international travellers all finger prints have to be taken. I would estimate it took over 2 hours from arriving at the terminal to getting on the ship. We arrived around 12.30 and not getting onboard until about 3 made our first day onboard feel rushed. I’d certainly arrive at 11 next time in the hope of then being on by 1pm with plenty of time to unpack and explore. We were greeted onboard with a glass a sparkling wine or orange juice – complimentary and a nice touch. All muster stations were inside and the drill was over in under 1 hour, although 10 mins before the official signal all the seats in the Rendezvous lounge were already taken - so get there early if you want a seat. This is a beautiful harbour to sail out of, so be sure to be somewhere outside where you an enjoy the views as you sail under the Lions Gate bridge. (You can do the same on return but you'll have to get up early as our ship sailed in before 6am.) MISC NOTE - We were unaware of the time difference in Alaska but welcomed the clocks going back 1 hr early in the trip, although we were less pleased about the loss of that hour again, towards the end of the trip. SHIP Infinity is in good shape. Certainly no worse than any ship I have sailed in. Some signs of wear on carpets and paint work but this was minimal. They were doing routine repairs while on board (as I have seen on other ships we’ve sailed on). We felt the ship flowed very well and liked the contemporary feel of the decor. I’m not sure how full it was but it never felt crowded – though I often wonder on ships where does everyone go?? The staff were truly excellent – friendly, efficient and seemed genuinely happy to engage. Loved that the casino was no smoking and avoided the port side outside areas where smoking was allowed. We enjoyed Al Bacio the coffee shop immensely (the mini tarts here were delicious) and also the Constellation Lounge with its large windows high up at the front of the ship. The passengers were a good cross section of ages and nationalities, with many Spanish speakers on board, and quite a few children. A nice touch was that most toilets, dotted around the ship, had individual cloth towels to dry your hands rather than the paper ones we have experienced on other lines. A simple point but perhaps a sign of “modern luxury” ? CABIN – DECK 8 #8146 Our cabin was in good shape with minimal signs of wear. It seemed smaller than other cabins we have both had, as they have always included a full size sofa as well as the beds. On Infinity, the sofa is more of a two seater or large loveseat. The shower was narrower than at home but was also longer and we felt a good size. The water was plentiful and always hot. The bathroom had plenty of storage too. The miniature shampoo/conditioner/body lotion were replenished as needed by the cabin steward but we were disappointed to find only a tablet of soap, rather than body wash, was provided. The towels were of a surprisingly good quality/size and always appeared clean. The wardrobe could have done with a light but had a good amount of space for two women who pack for most options, and the balcony, being situated just where the ships widens out, had a nice view both forward and to the side. I did not like the overhang of the Oceanview cafe – it did not impede our view too much but it would stop me choosing a room on deck 9 certainly. It is also a very difficult area to reach for maintenance and so showed quite a bit of rust. We were blessed with fairly calm seas – taking travel sick tablets only on day 2 as we cruised towards Sitka. As we had not travelled this high up or as far back on a ship before, we were pleased with how stable the cabin was on this trip. Our cabin steward, Delon was unfailingly happy and kept our room in great condition. There was the usual night time chocolates, which is another sign of “Modern Luxury” as many lines have dispensed with this now, and on the second day (I think) he left chocolate cookies in our room, which was a nice, unexpected surprise. FOOD EXC LE PETIT CHEF We ate in the MDR 5 nights, with room service on one night and Le Petit Chef on another. From our research, we believed that Celebrity is a foodie cruise line. We did not find this to be the case and I suspect could set people up with unrealistic expectations. There were choices of bread and butters each evening which was lovely – we have not had this on other lines. The Sommeliers were genuinely interested in the wine and made excellent recommendations – again we only really had this on Cunard previously. With the other lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and P&O) there were only people to bring your drinks and no really Sommeliers at all – well done again Celebrity. The final evening’s dinner there was a superb choice – a real gala meal – with a choice of lobster, duck or beef wellington. This was certainly the best night of the cruise for a foodie. The remaining days the food was very good with a reasonable choice but certainly no better than any other line. We were very happy with our meals and the service was always excellent but we just did not think it was really any significant improvement over the other lines we have used. We ate around 7pm each day as we were on select dining. The card in our room suggested 8.45 as a good time to attend the dining room, but we just ignored that and only had to wait on 1 evening. We always got a table for 2 and although they are closely situated to each other, we were happy with the privacy afforded by other diners – sometimes conversing across tables and other times just between ourselves. Dress code was certainly more relaxed than previous cruises – though we did see the odd Tux and long dress. We opted for smart pants/skirts and shirts with heels and jewellery and never felt out of place in any evening dining room. We are not bothered what others wear and there were certainly more casually dressed diners. Room service was free. There are chargeable items but we found, on the one occasion we used it, adequate choice at no extra charge. We only ordered sandwiches and desserts and it came in good time and was hot and pleasant. We took breakfast in the Oceanview cafe. We thought the selection was excellent – everything we could think of and many dishes we would not think to eat for breakfast too. The omelette station was popular and don’t miss the Eggs Benedict and waffle stations also tucked away towards the back of the Oceanview cafe. We found arriving 30 mins before the end of breakfast or before 8am meant we could get a seat fairly easily. On the day we tried at 9am, there was no seating to be found despite 2 circuits of the entire room. SPECIALITY DINING – LE PETIT CHEF We received a free speciality dining experience from our travel agent and we were going to use it at Qsine. (The other options on board are Sushi or steakhouse/Italian restaurant that did not appeal to us). However shortly before boarding, Qsine was changed to Le Petit Chef – essentially a set menu with a clever animation on the table between courses. The food here was excellent, definitely better quality than the MDR – bouillabaisse soup, lobster tail, filet mignon and a very simple ice-cream for dessert which was sufficient given the 3 previous, very filling courses. We enjoyed the animation and the service was good. We were also lucky enough to witness a proposal (where the lady in question thankfully said yes!) which was a lovely way to end the night. If you sail regularly on Celebrity, this experience would get old very quickly though, so new menus and animations will need to be commissioned. We also though the additional charge of $50pp was steep given you have already paid for dinner in the MDR as part of the cruise price. Had it have not been included in our fare, it is unlikely we would have bothered to eat there – although I should stress it was fun and we did enjoy it. We booked on embarkation day for the following sea-day and there was space at the 8pm sitting though not the 6pm one. ENTERTAINMENT Unlike the food, where we were told to expect better than other lines, research indicated the entertainment on Celebrity would be worse. May be we were lucky but we thought the entertainment was excellent onboard. Certainly better than expected. There were 3-4 different live music options each day around the ship. Some were better than others with the house band and one duo being particularly poor at enunciating clearly. The shows in the main theatre each night were as good as many we have seen. We arrived maybe 10 mins before the start of each show and there were always plenty of seats available. Well done Celebrity. We had a great comedian/impressionist, lovely female singer, a good 1950’s band.....plus some excellent shows by the production company and a good singer, from within the wider ships company, who was drafted in unexpectedly due to a technical fault with the staging. ACTIVITIES We are both happy with a good book but there was plenty to do on this ship. We did the crossword everyday (there were some very poor clues so be sure to collect a copy of the answers from guest services each day so you don’t get completely stuck!). There were plenty of talks by the resident naturalist. We went to one but although he was very good, he tried very hard to entertain as well as educate and we found his jokes rather too long and tangential. We were sorry to miss his morning on day 2 in the Constellation Lounge though, as he did some guided wildlife viewing which sounded excellent. For those travelling in the future, pay more attention than we did to the timing of the activities and you will hopefully make the wildlife watching! Without his help, we still saw sunfish, seals and porpoises while on board, but no whales. We attended 2 silent discos and as previous reviewers have said it was great fun. Much better than expected. Try it! On the penultimate evening, the Cruise Director gave $5 to every passenger (on their Seapass) to use in the slots in the Casino. We had a very exciting 30 mins and left having turned that into $85 which was a lovely way to spend part of our evening and certainly has made me more likely to try my hand again in future ships’ casino’s. Thank you CD! We were invited to 3 different Celebrity cocktail parties but did not manage to find time to get to any. GYM We used the gym most mornings. It has no air conditioning to speak of, which is unacceptable when people are getting hot and sweaty. This is also certainly a place where the staff are very poor – they work waaaaayyyyy less than hard than elsewhere on the ship! It was always busy and hard to find a free machine. There were 3 machines not working most days. Whilst we appreciate it takes time to fix them, the staff did not even bother to put a sign on each one to say they were not operational. Therefore you would repeatedly see people try to use them, look confused and then move on. Even more frustratingly, a few days in, we pointed out that a notice on each broken machine would be useful and the staff member said they were not aware they were even broken! Surely a regular routine review of the machines should be made by the staff?? The gym was also an adult only area yet on at least one day the children were not asked politely to leave. Given the pressure on the limited number of machines, it was not acceptable for the children not to be asked to stop messing about on them, so that adults could use them. Finally, the machines were limited to 20 minutes but some people chose to ignore that limit (as some people always will do) and again the staff did nothing to enforce it. We certainly felt that staff generally did less than the minimum required here. ALASKA From research, I know for many people Alaska is a place to return to again and again. We really enjoyed it and it is indeed a beautiful country but we do not feel a strong urge the return. We did get up close to bears but this is normal for my sister, living in British Columbia and we did not manage to fit in a whale watching experience either for similar reasons. Certainly I’d do that if I travelled to Alaska again and I’d also do a land trip too as the window on Alaska that a cruise ship affords you, whilst being an exceedingly lovely way to travel, is very small. We were blessed with lovely weather on both sea days - day 2 and day 7 and it was an absolute blessing to lay on a sun bed and watch the beautiful islands pass by. Alaska is not really a sunbathing holiday and certainly we never had an issue getting a sun bed. We intended to but, unfortunately, never managed to make it into the pool or hot tubs either – though many people seemed to be having fun in them. Sitka- The weather in Sitka was not kind and it rained all day. We had a hike planned and walking boots and waterproof coats kept us comfortable. We took the hike via the cruise ship to use up OBC. The guides were informative and friendly and one was a local. We saw areas of woodland, beach, estuary and muskeg and learned lots about the local flora. Afterwards the minibus offered a drop at the ship or in town and we travelled to town to continue our exploration in the rain. We had great coffee and cake at the Highliner Coffee Co which is tucked away, near the fire station (with 90 mins of free wifi – a real bonus when trying to keep intouch with family back in the UK). The staff here were super friendly and helpful too – a definite recommendation from us. We walked the main street browsing shops and admiring the Bishops House, the Cathedral and climbing the Castle Hill which had nice views and interesting information panels. It is only a short climb up stairs or a winding ramp and we had it to ourselves (in the continual rain). The shuttles back to the ship were plentiful and left from where the minibus had dropped us off. Hubbard - we did no research on itineraries before booking with Celebrity. I know many people think Glacier Bay is a must and our cruise did not go there but I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed Hubbard Glacier (We have visited the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta before, which perhaps helps explain why we did not feel we had missed out on more glaciers?) It was a cloudy day but visibility was quite good and the glacier certainly looked blue in part – a benefit of no sun on the day we visited apparently. The approach was littered with icebergs and we got within the minimum distance allowed of 0.5 miles. The ship turned slowly so there was plenty of chances to view the glacier and witness the calving from various vantage points. We enjoyed being on the top deck for a wide view (though it was windy and cold necessitating jumpers/coats/gloves) but the promenade deck (deck 4) was also good as it was more sheltered, less busy and being lower down the ship, helped reinforce the size of the glacier. The grandeur of the glacier and watching it calve, only to hear the crash a few seconds later, are bother memories I will cherish. To really appreciate the detail a pair of binoculars is essential. Make sure to pack some! It was possible to join a smaller boat for the 3 hours or so we were at the glacier but we were not aware of that until after the event and although it is undoubtedly a more up close and personal experience, at $300 each we probably would not have taken it. We certainly felt we had an amazing time staying onboard Infinity. It is very sad to think of how quickly the glacier is melting – over 200ft in height (about 50%) has been lost in 30 years we were told. Certainly the grandchildren of my generation may not be lucky enough to see it. Juneau – weather here was dry but cloudy. We had printed a plan of the town and marked it with the main buildings and shopping district. We wandered the town, doing some shopping and seeing the Governor’s house and State Capital building and eventually reaching our destination of the Alaksa State Museum. This is a great facility with interesting exhibits that are beautifully displayed with detailed explanations and we spent a couple of very interesting hours learning about the history of Alaska. There are lockers in the foyer so that day sacks (and I’d imagine wet coats) can be left. We had thought we might then take the tram to the top of Mount Roberts but it seemed the clouds would obscure the view so we headed back to the ship, which was wonderfully conveniently berthed right in town. On way to the museum we stopped again for coffee and cake at the Heritage cafe. This was our least favourite coffee stop in Alaska. The staff weren’t friendly and the wifi was only 15 mins – I do not want to watch a movie using a coffee shop wifi but 15 mins is barely enough time for all the messages to come into your phone nevermind actually reply to them. I appreciate the shop probably gets many thousands of tourists every day but this was the most limited wifi we encountered on the trip and made for a very rushed and not to be recommended experience. Ketchikan – a 2pm arrival afforded us plenty of time to watch the islands sail by again on our approach to this town. We had a private tour booked and were driven out to the Totem Bright State park (to see the clan house recreation and some totem poles), a short visit to a waterfall literally next to the road, and finally Herring Bay where we saw multiple eagles and two bears. Price was similar to a cruise tour but we had the car to ourselves. The guide dropped us back in town where we easily found Creek Street and explored that, before having coffee at the corner of Mission Street and Main Street, where once again the staff were really friendly and wifi unlimited. We took the necessary photo of the rain gauge – ironically for us it is a beautiful sunny picture as our weather in Ketchikan was probably the sunniest of any stop in Alaska! Leaving Ketchikan we spent a couple of hours again watching the scenery from the Constellation Lounge which was lovely though we did think it was slightly odd that the children’s club were using the dance floor as a pretend camp. Having (nearly grown up) children myself I do not mind them at all, but we thought this elegant lounge, with wonderful views, in an area renowned for whale sightings was an odd choice for a children’s activity in the evening. The sunset that night was beautiful though – pictures do not do it justice. DISEMBARKATION Breakfast on the last day ended at 8.30 so consider that when picking your time to get off the ship. The paperwork for selecting your disembarkation time is left in cabin about half way through trip and way before you know the breakfast plans for the final day! We changed our 9.30 slot to an 8.30 slot on the last day and were off the ship, through customs and travelling home with our luggage within about 45 mins. SUMMARY We would travel with Celebrity again providing the itinerary and price were right. We think there is very little to choose between any of the mainstream cruise lines (based on our limited experience of 5 of them) but certainly Celebrity have a good product and we had a great cruise with them.

First time with Celebrity and to Alaska - 8th to 15th July 2018

Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by UKmum

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2B
BACKGROUND

2 sisters travelling to celebrate a milestone birthday on Celebrity Infinity for a roundtrip from Vancouver to Alaska 8-15 July 2018.

We live in UK and Canada respectively and for us it was all about spending time together - doing it on a lovely cruise ship, in beautiful Alaska was certainly a bonus :-) We have sailed 5 times between us but this was the first with Celebrity and to Alaska.

These are my thoughts/opinions – others will certainly disagree but I hope the review is useful to some. It is rather long so I’ve tried to split it into sections so you can disregard the information that is not useful to you!

We had the $300 OBC and Classic drinks package as part of our booking. (We certainly did not drink enough to make it worth buying a drinks package ($55 pppd) but as a perk, built into the cruise price, it was very nice to just order a drink without having to sign for anything or think about the cost). We also had OBC from our TA along with a complimentary special dining. For some reason the TA OBC was not split equally across our two accounts but with a bit of effort, Guest Relations sorted this for us – part of it that we failed to spend was also refunded at the end of the cruise.

VANCOUVER BOARDING/EMBARKATION DAY

This is a beautiful city that we have visited regularly. The cruise terminal is poorly laid out. There were lots of staff milling about but they were of little help – giving minimal and poor instructions. We’d have joined a long queue for bag tags if it wasn’t for our own attention, despite having tags clearly already visible on our bags! We progressed fairly quickly until we reached long lines for the US customs.

If you are American or Canadian the process is fairly quick but for international travellers all finger prints have to be taken. I would estimate it took over 2 hours from arriving at the terminal to getting on the ship. We arrived around 12.30 and not getting onboard until about 3 made our first day onboard feel rushed. I’d certainly arrive at 11 next time in the hope of then being on by 1pm with plenty of time to unpack and explore.

We were greeted onboard with a glass a sparkling wine or orange juice – complimentary and a nice touch. All muster stations were inside and the drill was over in under 1 hour, although 10 mins before the official signal all the seats in the Rendezvous lounge were already taken - so get there early if you want a seat.

This is a beautiful harbour to sail out of, so be sure to be somewhere outside where you an enjoy the views as you sail under the Lions Gate bridge. (You can do the same on return but you'll have to get up early as our ship sailed in before 6am.)

MISC NOTE - We were unaware of the time difference in Alaska but welcomed the clocks going back 1 hr early in the trip, although we were less pleased about the loss of that hour again, towards the end of the trip.

SHIP

Infinity is in good shape. Certainly no worse than any ship I have sailed in. Some signs of wear on carpets and paint work but this was minimal. They were doing routine repairs while on board (as I have seen on other ships we’ve sailed on). We felt the ship flowed very well and liked the contemporary feel of the decor. I’m not sure how full it was but it never felt crowded – though I often wonder on ships where does everyone go?? The staff were truly excellent – friendly, efficient and seemed genuinely happy to engage.

Loved that the casino was no smoking and avoided the port side outside areas where smoking was allowed. We enjoyed Al Bacio the coffee shop immensely (the mini tarts here were delicious) and also the Constellation Lounge with its large windows high up at the front of the ship.

The passengers were a good cross section of ages and nationalities, with many Spanish speakers on board, and quite a few children. A nice touch was that most toilets, dotted around the ship, had individual cloth towels to dry your hands rather than the paper ones we have experienced on other lines. A simple point but perhaps a sign of “modern luxury” ?

CABIN – DECK 8 #8146

Our cabin was in good shape with minimal signs of wear. It seemed smaller than other cabins we have both had, as they have always included a full size sofa as well as the beds. On Infinity, the sofa is more of a two seater or large loveseat. The shower was narrower than at home but was also longer and we felt a good size. The water was plentiful and always hot. The bathroom had plenty of storage too. The miniature shampoo/conditioner/body lotion were replenished as needed by the cabin steward but we were disappointed to find only a tablet of soap, rather than body wash, was provided. The towels were of a surprisingly good quality/size and always appeared clean.

The wardrobe could have done with a light but had a good amount of space for two women who pack for most options, and the balcony, being situated just where the ships widens out, had a nice view both forward and to the side. I did not like the overhang of the Oceanview cafe – it did not impede our view too much but it would stop me choosing a room on deck 9 certainly. It is also a very difficult area to reach for maintenance and so showed quite a bit of rust.

We were blessed with fairly calm seas – taking travel sick tablets only on day 2 as we cruised towards Sitka. As we had not travelled this high up or as far back on a ship before, we were pleased with how stable the cabin was on this trip. Our cabin steward, Delon was unfailingly happy and kept our room in great condition. There was the usual night time chocolates, which is another sign of “Modern Luxury” as many lines have dispensed with this now, and on the second day (I think) he left chocolate cookies in our room, which was a nice, unexpected surprise.

FOOD EXC LE PETIT CHEF

We ate in the MDR 5 nights, with room service on one night and Le Petit Chef on another. From our research, we believed that Celebrity is a foodie cruise line. We did not find this to be the case and I suspect could set people up with unrealistic expectations. There were choices of bread and butters each evening which was lovely – we have not had this on other lines. The Sommeliers were genuinely interested in the wine and made excellent recommendations – again we only really had this on Cunard previously. With the other lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and P&O) there were only people to bring your drinks and no really Sommeliers at all – well done again Celebrity. The final evening’s dinner there was a superb choice – a real gala meal – with a choice of lobster, duck or beef wellington. This was certainly the best night of the cruise for a foodie. The remaining days the food was very good with a reasonable choice but certainly no better than any other line. We were very happy with our meals and the service was always excellent but we just did not think it was really any significant improvement over the other lines we have used.

We ate around 7pm each day as we were on select dining. The card in our room suggested 8.45 as a good time to attend the dining room, but we just ignored that and only had to wait on 1 evening. We always got a table for 2 and although they are closely situated to each other, we were happy with the privacy afforded by other diners – sometimes conversing across tables and other times just between ourselves.

Dress code was certainly more relaxed than previous cruises – though we did see the odd Tux and long dress. We opted for smart pants/skirts and shirts with heels and jewellery and never felt out of place in any evening dining room. We are not bothered what others wear and there were certainly more casually dressed diners.

Room service was free. There are chargeable items but we found, on the one occasion we used it, adequate choice at no extra charge. We only ordered sandwiches and desserts and it came in good time and was hot and pleasant.

We took breakfast in the Oceanview cafe. We thought the selection was excellent – everything we could think of and many dishes we would not think to eat for breakfast too. The omelette station was popular and don’t miss the Eggs Benedict and waffle stations also tucked away towards the back of the Oceanview cafe. We found arriving 30 mins before the end of breakfast or before 8am meant we could get a seat fairly easily. On the day we tried at 9am, there was no seating to be found despite 2 circuits of the entire room.

SPECIALITY DINING – LE PETIT CHEF

We received a free speciality dining experience from our travel agent and we were going to use it at Qsine. (The other options on board are Sushi or steakhouse/Italian restaurant that did not appeal to us). However shortly before boarding, Qsine was changed to Le Petit Chef – essentially a set menu with a clever animation on the table between courses.

The food here was excellent, definitely better quality than the MDR – bouillabaisse soup, lobster tail, filet mignon and a very simple ice-cream for dessert which was sufficient given the 3 previous, very filling courses. We enjoyed the animation and the service was good. We were also lucky enough to witness a proposal (where the lady in question thankfully said yes!) which was a lovely way to end the night.

If you sail regularly on Celebrity, this experience would get old very quickly though, so new menus and animations will need to be commissioned. We also though the additional charge of $50pp was steep given you have already paid for dinner in the MDR as part of the cruise price. Had it have not been included in our fare, it is unlikely we would have bothered to eat there – although I should stress it was fun and we did enjoy it. We booked on embarkation day for the following sea-day and there was space at the 8pm sitting though not the 6pm one.

ENTERTAINMENT

Unlike the food, where we were told to expect better than other lines, research indicated the entertainment on Celebrity would be worse. May be we were lucky but we thought the entertainment was excellent onboard. Certainly better than expected. There were 3-4 different live music options each day around the ship. Some were better than others with the house band and one duo being particularly poor at enunciating clearly.

The shows in the main theatre each night were as good as many we have seen. We arrived maybe 10 mins before the start of each show and there were always plenty of seats available. Well done Celebrity. We had a great comedian/impressionist, lovely female singer, a good 1950’s band.....plus some excellent shows by the production company and a good singer, from within the wider ships company, who was drafted in unexpectedly due to a technical fault with the staging.

ACTIVITIES

We are both happy with a good book but there was plenty to do on this ship. We did the crossword everyday (there were some very poor clues so be sure to collect a copy of the answers from guest services each day so you don’t get completely stuck!).

There were plenty of talks by the resident naturalist. We went to one but although he was very good, he tried very hard to entertain as well as educate and we found his jokes rather too long and tangential. We were sorry to miss his morning on day 2 in the Constellation Lounge though, as he did some guided wildlife viewing which sounded excellent. For those travelling in the future, pay more attention than we did to the timing of the activities and you will hopefully make the wildlife watching! Without his help, we still saw sunfish, seals and porpoises while on board, but no whales.

We attended 2 silent discos and as previous reviewers have said it was great fun. Much better than expected. Try it!

On the penultimate evening, the Cruise Director gave $5 to every passenger (on their Seapass) to use in the slots in the Casino. We had a very exciting 30 mins and left having turned that into $85 which was a lovely way to spend part of our evening and certainly has made me more likely to try my hand again in future ships’ casino’s. Thank you CD!

We were invited to 3 different Celebrity cocktail parties but did not manage to find time to get to any.

GYM

We used the gym most mornings. It has no air conditioning to speak of, which is unacceptable when people are getting hot and sweaty. This is also certainly a place where the staff are very poor – they work waaaaayyyyy less than hard than elsewhere on the ship!

It was always busy and hard to find a free machine. There were 3 machines not working most days. Whilst we appreciate it takes time to fix them, the staff did not even bother to put a sign on each one to say they were not operational. Therefore you would repeatedly see people try to use them, look confused and then move on. Even more frustratingly, a few days in, we pointed out that a notice on each broken machine would be useful and the staff member said they were not aware they were even broken! Surely a regular routine review of the machines should be made by the staff??

The gym was also an adult only area yet on at least one day the children were not asked politely to leave. Given the pressure on the limited number of machines, it was not acceptable for the children not to be asked to stop messing about on them, so that adults could use them. Finally, the machines were limited to 20 minutes but some people chose to ignore that limit (as some people always will do) and again the staff did nothing to enforce it. We certainly felt that staff generally did less than the minimum required here.

ALASKA

From research, I know for many people Alaska is a place to return to again and again. We really enjoyed it and it is indeed a beautiful country but we do not feel a strong urge the return. We did get up close to bears but this is normal for my sister, living in British Columbia and we did not manage to fit in a whale watching experience either for similar reasons. Certainly I’d do that if I travelled to Alaska again and I’d also do a land trip too as the window on Alaska that a cruise ship affords you, whilst being an exceedingly lovely way to travel, is very small.

We were blessed with lovely weather on both sea days - day 2 and day 7 and it was an absolute blessing to lay on a sun bed and watch the beautiful islands pass by. Alaska is not really a sunbathing holiday and certainly we never had an issue getting a sun bed. We intended to but, unfortunately, never managed to make it into the pool or hot tubs either – though many people seemed to be having fun in them.

Sitka- The weather in Sitka was not kind and it rained all day. We had a hike planned and walking boots and waterproof coats kept us comfortable. We took the hike via the cruise ship to use up OBC. The guides were informative and friendly and one was a local. We saw areas of woodland, beach, estuary and muskeg and learned lots about the local flora. Afterwards the minibus offered a drop at the ship or in town and we travelled to town to continue our exploration in the rain.

We had great coffee and cake at the Highliner Coffee Co which is tucked away, near the fire station (with 90 mins of free wifi – a real bonus when trying to keep intouch with family back in the UK). The staff here were super friendly and helpful too – a definite recommendation from us. We walked the main street browsing shops and admiring the Bishops House, the Cathedral and climbing the Castle Hill which had nice views and interesting information panels. It is only a short climb up stairs or a winding ramp and we had it to ourselves (in the continual rain). The shuttles back to the ship were plentiful and left from where the minibus had dropped us off.

Hubbard - we did no research on itineraries before booking with Celebrity. I know many people think Glacier Bay is a must and our cruise did not go there but I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed Hubbard Glacier (We have visited the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta before, which perhaps helps explain why we did not feel we had missed out on more glaciers?) It was a cloudy day but visibility was quite good and the glacier certainly looked blue in part – a benefit of no sun on the day we visited apparently.

The approach was littered with icebergs and we got within the minimum distance allowed of 0.5 miles. The ship turned slowly so there was plenty of chances to view the glacier and witness the calving from various vantage points. We enjoyed being on the top deck for a wide view (though it was windy and cold necessitating jumpers/coats/gloves) but the promenade deck (deck 4) was also good as it was more sheltered, less busy and being lower down the ship, helped reinforce the size of the glacier.

The grandeur of the glacier and watching it calve, only to hear the crash a few seconds later, are bother memories I will cherish. To really appreciate the detail a pair of binoculars is essential. Make sure to pack some! It was possible to join a smaller boat for the 3 hours or so we were at the glacier but we were not aware of that until after the event and although it is undoubtedly a more up close and personal experience, at $300 each we probably would not have taken it. We certainly felt we had an amazing time staying onboard Infinity. It is very sad to think of how quickly the glacier is melting – over 200ft in height (about 50%) has been lost in 30 years we were told. Certainly the grandchildren of my generation may not be lucky enough to see it.

Juneau – weather here was dry but cloudy. We had printed a plan of the town and marked it with the main buildings and shopping district. We wandered the town, doing some shopping and seeing the Governor’s house and State Capital building and eventually reaching our destination of the Alaksa State Museum. This is a great facility with interesting exhibits that are beautifully displayed with detailed explanations and we spent a couple of very interesting hours learning about the history of Alaska. There are lockers in the foyer so that day sacks (and I’d imagine wet coats) can be left.

We had thought we might then take the tram to the top of Mount Roberts but it seemed the clouds would obscure the view so we headed back to the ship, which was wonderfully conveniently berthed right in town. On way to the museum we stopped again for coffee and cake at the Heritage cafe. This was our least favourite coffee stop in Alaska. The staff weren’t friendly and the wifi was only 15 mins – I do not want to watch a movie using a coffee shop wifi but 15 mins is barely enough time for all the messages to come into your phone nevermind actually reply to them. I appreciate the shop probably gets many thousands of tourists every day but this was the most limited wifi we encountered on the trip and made for a very rushed and not to be recommended experience.

Ketchikan – a 2pm arrival afforded us plenty of time to watch the islands sail by again on our approach to this town. We had a private tour booked and were driven out to the Totem Bright State park (to see the clan house recreation and some totem poles), a short visit to a waterfall literally next to the road, and finally Herring Bay where we saw multiple eagles and two bears. Price was similar to a cruise tour but we had the car to ourselves. The guide dropped us back in town where we easily found Creek Street and explored that, before having coffee at the corner of Mission Street and Main Street, where once again the staff were really friendly and wifi unlimited.

We took the necessary photo of the rain gauge – ironically for us it is a beautiful sunny picture as our weather in Ketchikan was probably the sunniest of any stop in Alaska! Leaving Ketchikan we spent a couple of hours again watching the scenery from the Constellation Lounge which was lovely though we did think it was slightly odd that the children’s club were using the dance floor as a pretend camp. Having (nearly grown up) children myself I do not mind them at all, but we thought this elegant lounge, with wonderful views, in an area renowned for whale sightings was an odd choice for a children’s activity in the evening. The sunset that night was beautiful though – pictures do not do it justice.

DISEMBARKATION

Breakfast on the last day ended at 8.30 so consider that when picking your time to get off the ship. The paperwork for selecting your disembarkation time is left in cabin about half way through trip and way before you know the breakfast plans for the final day! We changed our 9.30 slot to an 8.30 slot on the last day and were off the ship, through customs and travelling home with our luggage within about 45 mins.

SUMMARY

We would travel with Celebrity again providing the itinerary and price were right. We think there is very little to choose between any of the mainstream cruise lines (based on our limited experience of 5 of them) but certainly Celebrity have a good product and we had a great cruise with them.
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2B
Cabin 2B 8146
Our cabin was in good shape with minimal signs of wear. It seemed smaller than other cabins we have both had, as they have always included a full size sofa as well as the beds. On Infinity, the sofa is more of a two seater or large loveseat. The shower was narrower than at home but was also longer and we felt a good size. The water was plentiful and always hot. The bathroom had plenty of storage too. The miniature shampoo/conditioner/body lotion were replenished as needed by the cabin steward but we were disappointed to find only a tablet of soap, rather than body wash, was provided. The towels were of a surprisingly good quality/size and always appeared clean.

The wardrobe could have done with a light but had a good amount of space for two women who pack for most options, and the balcony, being situated just where the ships widens out, had a nice view both forward and to the side. I did not like the overhang of the Oceanview cafe – it did not impede our view too much but it would stop me choosing a room on deck 9 certainly. It is also a very difficult area to reach for maintenance and so showed quite a bit of rust.

We were blessed with fairly calm seas – taking travel sick tablets only on day 2 as we cruised towards Sitka. As we had not travelled this high up or as far back on a ship before, we were pleased with how stable the cabin was on this trip. Our cabin steward, Delon was unfailingly happy and kept our room in great condition. There was the usual night time chocolates, which is another sign of “Modern Luxury” as many lines have dispensed with this now, and on the second day (I think) he left chocolate cookies in our room, which was a nice, unexpected surprise.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins