I am a frequent cruiser and we decided last minute (4 weeks out) to book an Alaska cruise. Celebrity Infinity had availability in the class we were interested in (Aqua Concierge CC) deck 11. This new class gives Aqua passengers exclusive access to the specialty restaurant Blu, spa amenities in the cabins, and exclusive access to the Persian Garden steam room/Turkish bath in the spa. Aqua cabins are all of deck 11 and sprinkled in deck 9. Advantage to deck 11 is that it's an over 21 floor and double occupancy only. No kids and families in one room allowed on this deck. We were encouraged to book a cabin at the very back of the ship for it's privacy and large veranda size. We got the cabin directly in the back of the ship. Size wise, the veranda was great. Privacy wise, it was the WORST. We overlooked the Ocean Grill bar and outdoor eating area and anyone on observation deck 12 could look right down on us and even into our cabin. It felt like we were hamsters in cages. My husband and I are veranda lovers and on most cruises, spend the majority of our free time on them reading, relaxing and dining. I can count the minutes we spent out there simply to avoid being an exhibit.
Cabin size and quality were average and as expected. The Infinity went into dry dock over the winter and spring for a complete "Solsticizing" renovation. The decor was tasteful and modern but not over the top. As much as they tried to "luxuriate" this ship, they couldn't change the layout. As I mentioned earlier, we were on deck 11 which is the 21 and over stateroom deck. Before dry dock, deck 11 was the children's activity deck. It was never intended to be for customer staterooms. Access to and from the cabin areas to the rest of the ship was awkward and cumbersome. Often, in order to get to the deck you needed to get to, you had to go outside and walk to mid ship to get to the appropriate elevators. Most of the time, this wasn't too much of an issue, but at dinner time and especially on formal nights, walking in the cold Alaska air was not the most fun.
There were many, many kids on this ship. Partially, because of the time of year of the sailing. Not having kids personally, I'm always cautious about booking ships that are too dedicated to kids activities. There didn't seem to initially be an overwhelming focus on kids and families, so I thought we might escape. No such luck. Most of the kids were incredibly well mannered and seemed to be occupied all the time with deck sports or ship board activities. There were several kids whose parents clearly failed in their public behavior teachings as they were rude, disruptive and even to the point of throwing things off the observation deck onto the balconies of our 11th deck verandas. I walked outside to ask them if they could please stop throwing things and be a bit respectful that these are peoples staterooms, and I was told some interesting expletives and spit upon. Very nice representation of the younger generations. I called ship services to see if they could go up there to intervene, but no one ever showed up. I guess they were more worried about collecting sea pass cards to make sure no one was getting by with a free soda if they hadn't already purchased the beverage packages.
Ok, so let's talk about the food. Or maybe we shouldn't. The saving grace for us on this cruise was Blu. The specialty Aqua Class restaurant. The focus here is on clean eating and fresh ingredients. Celebrity got this very right. Great food, great service and great atmosphere. I do believe that the best chefs, waitstaff and maitre d' were specifically put in this restaurant. Excellent, excellent, excellent. That's all the good news about the food. We never ate in the main dining room for several reasons. The menu's never enticed us, they were not very accommodating in our preference of being seated at a table of two, and when trying to plop us at a table of 10, never took any time to think about who they were seating us with. The one time we tried to go, they tried to put us at a table with a family of 8. 6 kids under the age of 13. Ummm, no offense to all the parents out there (you rock), but those of us that don't have children, find it quite overwhelming to be seated with 6 at a time. We asked if there was a table more appropriate to our age group and they tried to move us to a table of all 80 year old and older. No offense again, bottom line, we just felt like fish out of water at both tables. We left and went back to Blu where we sat at a table of two that was an inch away from another table of 2 so it was like seating for 4. We met some amazing people during these dinners. They were much more compatible in age and since no kids were allowed in Blu, it solved that awkward issue. The waiters in the main dining room were also fairly rude and harried. Clear that customer service issues were imposing and bothersome. Blu saved the day! I never really ate breakfast or lunch. Standard yogurt and fruit for breakfast and the buffet was so unappealing to me that I just waited for dinner. Many of our excursions were later in the day and we didn't return to the ship until close to 10 pm. Dining options were limited to stadium quality pizza (;() and room service (:((() Room service quality was bad, bad, bad. How can you botch a turkey sandwich???? It was inedible. Even my hooverlike husband forewent that one. Room service also took an hour to get from time of order placement. My thoughts are, if you are going to do evening docking with evening excursions, try to offer healthier, high quality late night fare on those nights. We also spend $80 to try Qsine one of two pay specialty restaurants. It's a tapas restaurant that uses iPads as menus. Everything is modern and fun and great presentation. Restaurant is colorful and almost like an Alice in Wonderland type of environment. Everything from mini tacos, kobe sliders, chinese food in mini take out containers, greek samplers, to decorate your own cupcakes for dessert. It was fun and presentation and experience get 4 stars but quality of food gets 2 1/2 stars. Most food was cold and tasted like it had been sitting out for a while. $80 is a lot for dinner, but the way Celebrity nickle and dimes you, what's another $80???? Glad we went, but wouldn't be rushing to go back.
Ports were standard Alaska ports. I've been 2 times before. This time, Celebrity docked in Victoria at 6 pm. Excursions didn't begin until almost 7:30 and by the time you got to your destination, lighting was gone for photography and you had to keep an eye on your watch because last tender was 11. Not a lot of time. It was like the NASCAR version of port stopping. Excursions were very expensive, but that's not exclusive to Celebrity. We enjoyed our excursions and they were organized well. Tendering on the other hand???? DISASTER. They made an announcement (if you were in your stateroom or on Decks 10/11/12 outside you couldnt hear), asking one member of each party to go to deck 5 mid ship to get a tender number. We got group 4. By the time we got our ticket and went back upstairs to get our stuff, we heard them calling for tender group #12! What!!! Everyone was panicking because we docked at 2 and many had excursion start times of 2:45. A lot of these people had tender group 30. So if someone in an earlier group wasn't willing to trade with someone in a later group but earlier excursion, too bad for them. They missed the excursion. My husband and I had a later excursion time so we switched tickets with another couple that needed to get on shore early. The cruise staff wasn't very helpful to those passengers that had late tickets and early excursions. I felt bad for the people stressing out about missing their expensive outings.
Ok, so the not so good things are out of the way. On to what was great. Alaska is always the star of this show. My other times sailing, I went through Glacier Bay. Since Celebrity is not allowed to sail Glacier Bay at this time, we went through Tracy Arm Fjord. I thought I was going to be disappointed, but WOW!!!!!! It was beyond gorgeous. So much for the eye to take in. The best part of sailing through Tracy Arm was Brent Nixon. Renown naturalist and wildlife researcher was on board all week giving lectures about the different indigenous wildlife that we would be seeing. Any time we were cruising and Brent spotted something, he immediately got on the loudspeaker and gave us an impromptu lecture. Pointing out seals starboard and humpbacks aft and bald eagles port-side. It was amazing. He helped many of us capture once in a lifetime photos. He was by far, the best thing on the cruise. I didn't miss a lecture. He also narrated the entire cruising of Tracy Arm teaching us about the changes in the ecosystem and habitat for the wildlife. Amazing. Downside, was we woke up at 6am and realized that we were already sailing the fjord so husband and I flew out to our veranda(me in my grizzly bear pajamas and he in his Thurston Howell, III pajamas) with cameras in hand. Took us about 60 seconds to realize that there were about 100 people on deck 10 and 12 that just saw us in all of our natural splendor. Yeahhhhh privacy veranda. Must remember to send thank you email to celebrity cruise Booker for that recommendation. The Captain actually turned the ship completely around in the narrow fjord strait due to ice presence and no one was ever the wiser. It was amazing.
Embarkation was the smoothest, easiest I've ever been through. They allowed passengers to choose their disembarkation time based on travel plans. Our flight left at noon so we chose 10 am disembarkation. They opened Blu an hour early to allow us one last breakfast at our favorite restaurant. We got of the ship in a calm single file line along with our other lavender group 15. It was orderly and drama free. Got through customs quickly, got our bags and within minutes were in a cab on our way to the airport. Overall, this was an amazing vacation because Alaska is just an amazing place to visit. I thought that the ship was ok. Fair warning, I'm a cruise snob and have been on several luxury lines that I love because they are less than 1,000 people. People may read this and say, sure the luxury liners should be that much nicer considering the price difference. Here is what I will tell you, after adding up all the bar charges, excursion fees, automatic gratuities charged to your account, specialty restaurant charges and port taxes, I would say that cost wise, it was fairly comparable to some of the luxury lines that are all inclusive. I remember feeling like I was being nickle and dimed to death a couple of years ago when I sailed the Celebrity Century, good news is that Celebrity is consistent in that they are still upholding that practice. I also want to agree with another reviewer that I read on here. The Infinity promotes their "Save the Waves" campaign about how environmentally aware they are and they strive to save the seas and the environment that is the foundation of their business. I kid you not, we got no less than 7 different paper brochures, notices, confirmations, thank-you, thank-yous for thank-yous, promotions, sales, and other Celebrity paraphernalia EVERY SINGLE DAY. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????????????????????????
I don't think I'll be sailing Celebrity again. It was fun and there were some definite nice parts about the ship, but overall, I thought it was expensive for what it was. It's just my opinion as I know many, many people that sail nothing but Celebrity when they cruise. It's like anything else in life, it is what you make of it. I think the Type B personalities will enjoy Celebrity much more than the OCD Type A's like myself! Hope someone finds this helpful if not humorous!