IMPORTANT: There is no self serve laundry on the Infinity. So either you take all the clothes you need for the trip, or you pay to have it done ($4.00 shorts/shirt, $5.00 pants). There was a rumor that we would be offered a per bag laundry deal...didn't happen, so be prepared. TAKE EXTRA HANGARS.
IMPORTANT: Don't waste room in your suitcase taking irons and heating pads. They will be confiscated when you board the ship. Gentlemen...don't take penknives OF ANY SIZE. They will also be confiscated. My husband took his knife off at a port and it was taken when reboarding. You will be given a receipt to pick up your item(s) at debarkation. Crochet hooks, knitting needles and needlepoint items don't seem to be a problem. I pack my scissors in my checked luggage.
PACKING: suggest you take...extra hangars, clothes pins, small flashlight (for when you drop the earring under the bed), envelopes for extra tips for wait staff, ANY meds you think you might need (cold, aspirins, nasal...expensive on ship), highlighter to mark what you want to do daily on the Celebrity Today so you don't miss anything, alarm clock (no clocks in your room....you can put in for wake up call but we heard they didn't always work).
To start our trip, we flew into Ft. Lauderdale at noon, took a shuttle to the port (Fortlauderdaleshuttle.com - $22.00). We arrived at the port approx. 1:15. Porters took our bags and we were directed to proceed into the terminal.
This was our first Celebrity cruise, we were going on the cheap, so we received no special treatment.
EMBARKATION wasn't that bad...bit of waiting but we're used to that with every cruise (this was our 10th.). We were on the ship approx. 2:30, photo taken ($19.95), greeted with champagne and mimosas, told that our room was ready and lunch was being served in the buffet.
BEWARE: the hallways on the second deck are treacherous. There are dips in the floor deep enough to turn an ankle even when wearing sneakers. We think someone deliberately spilled a coffee over one of the dips so it could be seen. And then there will be a high spot to trip you and then another low. We would take the stairs to the third deck and walk the hallways up there instead of going along deck 2.
PHOTOS: Embarkation photos - $19.95. Port photos - $12.95.
Photos may be accessed at kiosks in the photo area by using your cruise cards. They are also available on the wall displays for the entire trip. Choose wisely at the end of the cruise.
LIBRARY: On deck 8...open 24 hours. Lots of books and keep checking back as people will finish the books they brought with them and leave them on the tables for someone else. Few board games are available. Puzzle sheets are suppose to be available here, but only found them the first few days. Your favorite news is available in front of Guest Relations, deck 3 (USA Times, Kyodo News, and German, Spanish, and British papers as well. You will also find copies of Celebrity Today there as well.)
No CHAPEL but there are Saturday and Sunday services. No art gallery/art auctions.
POOLS: Outside pools/whirlpools are open til 8:00 p.m. Solarium pools/whirlpools (warm therapy pools with salt water) open til 10 p.m. The solarium is usually abandoned in the evening, lights are low, soft music and after a bit you think you're in a funeral home! Chlorine very strong in this pool.
ARTS & CRAFTS: Scrapbooking. We were given very nice "kits" (4) to make, however, before finishing your kit, consider what you are going to do with it. If going into a scrapbook, you might not want to glue everything together til you get home and can add your photos. Watercolor class. Everyone was given a "kit" that included paints, brushes, paper etc. that had to be brought back to additional classes. Cord bracelet. Made from paracord (?). Braiding. Jewelry. Dangle earrings. All of these classes are free.
GAMES /TRIVIAS: Xbox bowling, golf putting, team trivia, music trivia, pictionary and more. You could win one of the coveted pens, a lanyard, a shirt or a medal. Go and join with others to make a team. The activities staff here are excellent. You will have fun.
DRINKS: We didn't buy a drink package on this cruise, however here's what we did do. Coke products are available...$2.00 a can with $.30 gratuity for total of $2.30. Guinness stout...$6.00 + .90 gratuity + .36 tax for total of $7.26. Pot of tea from Cafe al Bacio is $4.00. You can get free coffee, iced tea, juice, lemonade, ice water, and there is a large selection of tea bags in the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) throughout most of the day. I discovered that the water would get hot enough in our bathroom for me to make a cup of tea so I kept a cup, spoon, sugar and asst. teabags in our room. Various packages are available online for wine, drinks and coffees.
INTERNET: deck 9...open 24 hours, staffed at specific hours. We didn't use this as we heard complaints from others that it didn't work very well. In order to "check-in" for our flight home (24 hours early on Southwest), we used our cell phone at Puerto Vallarta to call our son and have him do our check-in. Call cost us $5.12 to leave him a message with all the info he needed. Much cheaper & less hassle. And email can wait til we get home!
FOOD: this is a toss-up. I didn't like the food in Trellis for sit down dinner and my husband didn't like the Oceanview Cafe Buffet. He loved Trellis and I liked the buffet. Here's the gist:
Trellis: we didn't have assigned seating and apparently neither did a lot of others. Deck 4 is for those with an assigned dinner seating...deck 5 for "select" dining, or eat when you want. For deck 5, you will be asked if you mind sitting with other people. Your choice. I guess I just didn't pick the right items on the menu...left side of the menu is available every single night...right side changes every night. Appetizers, soup, salad very good each time. Escargot & french onion soup available most every night. Lobster one night...last formal. Entree a mistake for me most nights...and I'm not a fan of having my mash potatoes, vegetable and fish stacked on top of each other in the center of the plate. You can send your food back and order something else, I didn't...was eatable, but just not over the top like we've had on other cruises. Coq au vin excellent, chateaubriand too bloody for me so I passed it off to hubby who thot it was great. Husband says everything he had in Trellis was excellent...duck a l'orange, quail, steaks. Dress Code: Three formal nights...ladies wore sparkly gowns or long/short summer dresses or slacks & sparkly blouse....men wore tuxes, suits or simply a button shirt and tie. Didn't hear of anyone being turned away. Regular dinner nights...women in capris, long/short summer dresses...men in suits or pants and golf style shirts.
Oceanview Cafe: this is the buffet...lots of seating however, the wait staff wasn't very energetic about clearing tables so we cleared tables ourselves to have somewhere to sit. Often saw "suits" with walkie talkies clearing tables. You get your own drinks here from various locations (a coffee trolley was set up most mornings around the tables but it rarely went to any of the tables and if you grabbed the pot yourself, a wait staff person would chase you, take the pot, pour coffee for you and maybe one other person at your table, skip the rest and return the pot to the trolley! We never did figure that out). I liked the buffet, but it was set up strange....before you get your tray, plate and utensils, the buns, bread and croissants are placed, so you have to backtrack to get your bread/butter which causes a traffic jam at the very beginning of the line. You eventually learn to move around this area without dropping your plate or causing someone else to do so. Most of the food here is dished out to you...you can make your own tossed salad, but hot foods, etc. are put on your plate. We decided there was a shortage of staff in this area, because one staff person is responsible for 3 stations, so if the server is making a Caesar salad for someone, everyone else must wait in line to get the hot food and soup. If you ask the server a question about the food, she/he disappears to find someone to answer the question and everyone waits til the server returns. There are different food stations...salads, hot foods, Asian food, pasta bar, pizza, English breakfast in the morning, and a grill at the back of the ship serving different things at different times. My husband thot the food here was tasteless and he hated waiting in line. Dinner: Dinner here is limited with only part of the area open, however, I loved the pasta bar where you pick what you want for meat, veg., pick your pasta type and your sauce type. The grill on the back of the ship has steak, fish, chicken to grill for you, baked potatoes and grilled veggies. Sushi is set up at 5:30 each evening. MYTH BREAKER: FOOD IS NOT AVAILABLE 24 HOURS. The buffet is completely closed at 11:00 p.m., coffee is in one area only and could be cold. Pizza til 1:00 a.m. Ice cream til 10:00 p.m.
Cafe al Bacio: deck 5 has different finger foods. If you sit and have tea ($) you will get your sandwich, dessert on a plate. Otherwise, they will put it in a paper bag to go...make sure you get a spoon!
High Tea: $25.00 in SS United States dining room. Reservation required. Watch Celebrity Today for day and time. (Didn't do this but know someone who did...she wasn't impressed...go to Low Tea.)
Low Tea: Free...everyday in Oceanview Cafe (buffet). Is listed in Celebrity Today as "Afternoon Snacks" (3:30-4:30). You can get soup, scones, whipped butter, jam, pound cake, small sandwiches. Assorted tea bags available. Will keep you happy if you have an 8:30 dinner seating.
BRUNCH: This was held in Trellis on deck 4 only 1 morning. This is in place of the midnight buffet held on other ships...includes everything you might want for breakfast and lunch and here you will find the ice carvings as well. Take your camera.
We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, but we understand the food/service in SS United States was excellent.
SHOPPING: If you want it, you can buy it and chances are that at some point, it will be on sale. All the shops are on deck 5 and they carry jewelry, souvenirs, jewelry, liquor, jewelry, Apple computer products, clothing. You will be invited to seminars and sales during the cruise. Watch your "door mail".
TOURS: Tours were still available when we boarded the ship and each day, at each port, there was a notice that we could book last minute tours on the dock. If you see online that a tour is full, check with the excursions desk and ask to be put on the wait list as someone may cancel and open a space for you.
SHOWS: The Celebrity dancers were very good but didn't do many shows considering it was a 15 night cruise. Excellent comedian, vocalist, ventriloquist on last part of the cruise. Daily/evening entertainment at various spots around the ship...good but after days and days since the beginning, began to get stale.
There is hand sanitizer all over the ship and a staff person greets you at the Oceanview Cafe with a squirt of the sanitizer (although everyone does not use it). Many of us still had sinus/cold symptons. We began to wonder if it is in the air conditioning. To enjoy your cruise, I suggest you take your cold/sinus medicines with you just in case. They are expensive or non existent on the ship.
CABIN 2000...front of the ship, next to the crew door, however, we hardly ever heard the crew door shut. Had a constant hum (white noise) that didn't bother us at all. Very large round window with a shelf area in front of it. Comfortable bed, 4 pillows, 2 duvets available. Half size loveseat that would unfold into single bed, wall counter and chair, oval table that we had removed from the room to allow more walking space. Hairdryer, robes, umbrellas, safe. Stocked refrig with little room for your own stuff. Closet has about dozen wooden hangars, 6 short narrow drawers and hanging space is limited due to a box that is built into the cupboard...clothes can be hung sideways. Bathroom has clothesline in the shower (bring your own clothespins), soap, shampoo and conditioner and hand lotion provided. Night light in the bathroom. Plenty of hot water. Water hot enough in sink to make a passable cup of tea. Chocolates on pillows each night....no towel animals the entire trip! Our cabin stewards, Frederick and Jacinto were excellent.
DISEMBARKATION: A couple days before the end of the cruise, we were given our instructions and our luggage tags. Luggage to be out in the hall at 11:00 p.m. the night before. We had a 3:00 flight, so the ship assigned us to be in the theatre at 10:10 to wait for our turn. We had plenty of time for breakfast and to finalize packing our carry-ons. An announcement was made that rooms had to be vacated at 9:00 a.m. Problem....about 10:00, we left the theatre to make last trip to restroom before leaving the ship and then started walking toward the gangway (so we could get the confiscated knife) and we didn't hear our debarkation number called. Loud speakers don't work everywhere as we thot. We had no problem retrieving the confiscated knife and were off the ship quickly. Finding luggage is always a problem unless you self carry, but we were quickly out of the area, followed the signs to the taxis, and were in a taxi in no time at all. Taxi to airport was $18.20 plus tip. Shuttle vans were available at taxi stand as well, but don't know the costs.
ALL IN ALL we would probably do the Panama Canal cruise again, but doubt we would go on Celebrity. But then again, we've noticed that other cruise lines have also cut back on food and staff Comment was made that the cruise lines are trying to make cruising available to everyone, so by lowering the price, passengers are probably going to get less than they are used to. When all's said and done, I think we'll stick with Princess.