Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by Lady Jane: Panama Canal Cruise
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Panama Canal Cruise
Sept 18 & 19: We left home around 1:00 pm to drive to Portland, ME. Stayed at the Marriott Sable Oaks, our favorite hotel in Portland. We stayed overnight, and left our car there for the duration of the cruise. At 4:00 a.m. we took their free shuttle to the airport. Check-in was a breeze, so we had time for coffee and a bagel before heading to the gate. Flight went through Chicago, and we arrived in Seattle around 1:30 p.m. We grabbed a wheelchair to help Dick get to baggage claim, where we waited for 30 minutes before the luggage came onto the conveyor. We had to haul our suitcases up one level and across a sky bridge to get to the taxi stand...not the most convenient airport! We stayed at the Silver Cloud -- Broadway hotel. Very nice. They had a free shuttle to Pike Market and a few other tourist sites, which we took advantage of.
Sept. 20: Visited Pike Place Market; ate lunch and dinner at two different Irish pubs. Bought some sweatshirts...was chilly and foggy More in the morning!
Sept 21: Chilly and damp. We breakfasted at IHop (behind the hotel) and left for the pier around 11:00 a.m. Smooth embarkation...we were on board by 11:50 a.m. and headed straight for our favorite spot...the Sunset bar on deck 10 aft. The weather was cloudy and chilly, but lots showed up for our Cruise Critic sailaway gathering at the Sunset bar. A young guitarist played for sailaway. Although scheduled time to leave was 4:00 p.m., we weren't actually under way until 4:30 p.m.
Our stateroom was 1138...an Aqua Class aft balcony cabin. Very nice! Wonderful view. At 6:00 p.m. we went to Blu for dinner. I had the filet mignon, which was very good. The atmosphere in Blu is so nice...much quieter and more serene than the MDR, even when it's full. Got unpacked, and had an early evening.
Sept 22: At sea. Clear and cool. We slept until 7:30 a.m. then Dick went to the gym while I said my Morning Prayer. By 9:30 we were hungry for breakfast! Ate in the Oceanview cafe...love the waffle station and the poached egg station. After wandering around the ship to see what changes were made during Solticizing, we went to Cafe el Bacio for an iced cappuccino. Took our Kindle and IPad and read for a while. The Westside Strings from the Ukraine were playing. They were wonderful, and became my favorite source of music for the entire cruise!
In the afternoon, Dick hung around the Sunset Bar, getting to know the bar crew, while I went to a watercolor class. I'm so happy when they have watercolor classes on board...love them! Then I went to an Improvisation Comedy Workshop...great fun! It was led by Nancy and Marshall...a husband & wife team. They were terrific. I continued to go to both classes during the sea days on the cruise.
This was a formal night, so we dressed up and went to Cellar Masters before dinner. After dinner we stopped in the Rendezvous Lounge for some music. Cellar Masters was destined to become our favorite evening lounge!
Sept 23: We docked in San Francisco in mid-afternoon. But in the morning, we had our CC gathering in Michael's Club. Way too small for over 100 of us! We did a gift exchange...those who participated brought a small gift indicative of their home state/country. I received a gift of black lava sea salt and a tee shirt from Hawaii. I had brought some blueberry jam, chocolate covered blueberries, and some chutney, indicative of Maine.
We disembarked for the night at 3:00 p.m. and got a taxi to the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf. Since we had a free Hyatt night that was soon to expire, we had decided to stay off the ship while it was docked overnight. Toured Pier 39, and went to Alioto's for dinner.
Sept. 24: The next morning, we hired a town car to give us an overview tour of San Francisco. Dick had been their before, but I had not. We had a nice tour of all the highlights of SanFran. Actually got to see the Golden Gate bridge not shrouded in fog!
Set sail at around 3:00 p.m.
Sept 25: at sea. Overcast & chilly. Another mostly indoor day. Looking forward to warmer weather. Went to a watercolor class. Lazy day just doing mostly indoor things. Enjoy the sandwich bar in the Oceanview cafe for lunch. Their chicken salad was yummy!
Sept 26: Overcast, but warming up! Another day at sea. We set the clocks ahead one hour the night before, so we slept a bit late. Watercolor class; gym; lazy day. We saw dolphins frolicking in the surf. Decided to eat on deck 10 aft tonight...Dick loves the stir fry and I love the pasta & salad bar. Also sushi!
Sept 27: Cabo San Lucas. Rain! It rained buckets! Our ship tour on a yacht was canceled (thankfully), so we got a refund. That was nice, since it was an expensive tour. After lunch I left Dick on board and took a tender into town. I brought an umbrella, but still got soaked. I did some souvenir shopping, and was literally wading through ankle-deep water. On the tender ride back, there was thunder & lightening. We were in a local tender that had a roof but no sides...the rain was coming in sideways! We were all soaked...but laughing. We all looked like drowned rats! We heard they received the most single day rain in over 70 years!
Dinner in Blu. Service is so good in Blu, no matter where we sat or who we had as waiter. The sommelier, Kris Rawoo, was great. After a while, I'd just tell him to bring me "a smooth red wine" or a "light white wine" or whatever, and he'd pick out just the right one. He is married to the sommelier at the Cellar Master...Elizma. They were both so nice. She is from South Africa and he is from Mauritius.
Sept 28: Puerto Vallarto. Rain! Another warm and rainy day. We had a tour to an all-inclusive resort. Of course, the rain started as soon as we got there! Some folks swam anyway...why not? It's just water! We had drinks and lunch at a covered outdoor restaurant, overlooking the (deserted) beach. Coming back to the ship, we saw flooded streets and some rock and mud slides, with trees in the road. A monsoon! As we boarded the ship, the A/C felt cold since we were wet, but a crew person placed a warm towel around my wet shoulders. Nice touch!
Dinner in Blu...I had lobster ravioli. Very enjoyable.
Sept 29: at sea. Sunshine! 84 degrees! Took advantage of some ship activities. The sun turned to rain later in the day, but I got in some pool time first. I like the salt water in the pools on the M-Class ships. On the S-Class, it's fresh water. Also, on M-Class, the spa pool is a thalassatherapy pool, with jets and very warm salt water...love it. On the S-Class it's just an "adults only" pool.
Sept 30: Sunny and in the 90's...! Day at sea. Good day to intersperse pool time with indoor activities like my watercolor class. Doing a lot of reading, as usual. Dick and I both love to read while at sea.
Oct 1: Heavy rain in the morning, but partly sunny by noon and in the 80's. Another day at sea before we dock in Costa Rica. There are a lot of birds following the ship...not sure what kind they are.
Oct 2: Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Partly sunny and hot. We had pre-arranged a private tour for 14 of us (through Cruise Critic) with Charlie Soto from OkeyDokey Tours. We used a wheelchair from the ship to help Dick get to the end of the pier where we were meeting Charlie. He was right there, and had a 16 passenger van waiting for us. They put the wheelchair in the back. Our driver, Carlos, and guide, Geovana, were terrific. Carlos was very attentive helping Dick in and out of the van. We had a 7 hour tour...fed Capuchin monkeys, went into the hills for some great vistas, stopped at a hotel with botanical gardens, helped juice sugar cane and had drinks made of sugar cane, ginger & lime, along with fresh papaya, pineapple and mango; had lunch at a restaurant near the Tarcoles River and then took a Crockodile Man Tour...where the boat captain, Jason, got in the water and fed the crockodiles by hand! Saw lots of beautiful birds and flowers. Towards the end of the tour, we stopped at a souvenir factory store and then at a supermarket, where Geovana helped us buy Costa Rican coffee and some salsa/sauces at a much better price than in a souvenir shop. We got back to the ship around 3:45 p.m.
Oct 3: at sea. Another relaxing sea day. Went to watercolor and improv classes. Had a laughing good time in Cellar Masters after dinner with two couples from England. I discovered Prosecco on this cruise...love it!
Oct 4: Through the Panama Canal today. As it always is in Panama, it was hot! Also overcast, which helped. They had someone from the Canal doing a commentary over the loudspeaker system and we traversed the various locks. Very informative and interesting.
During the night we had a loud thunderstorm! Lots of lightening!
Oct 5: Partly sunny. Docked in Cartegena, Colombia. We breakfasted in Blu (great place for breakfast...can eat hearty, or light & healthy.) We went ashore around 10:00 a.m. Didn't have a tour planned, but hooked up with a tour guide as we got off the ship and went with several other couples on a brief tour of the old town. I had been there before and done a walking tour, so this gave Dick a chance to see a bit of it. Since his walking is so bad, we just walked a short distance with the old town area and then stopped at a cafe while the rest of the group walked for about 45 minutes. We were soon surrounded by locals hawking their wares...we laughed...it's rather like the swarms of black flies we get at home in Maine during May! We actually bought a couple of things that looked interesting and were cheap...while dismissing the rest. One fellow had a comedy routine he did with a weird hat...and he was really funny. We didn't buy the hat, but did give him a tip.
Had dinner in Blu. Found a bit too much repetition in the menu selections in Blu this time around. Maybe because it's a 17 day cruise.
Oct 6: sunny and hot. At sea. Classes during the day. Today was Elizma (from Cellar Masters) birthday, so we helped her celebrate! We drank...she poured!
Oct 7: Our last full day. Sunny and hot. Pool time; Sunset bar time; packing (ugh!)
Oct 8: We docked at 7:00 a.m. We went to the United States restaurant to wait for our disembarkation time. We were Green 4 with a time of 8:10 a.m. Plenty of time to make our 11:00 a.m. flight. Or so we thought. There was a huge electrical storm that went on and on, and prevented them from using the fork lifts to offload our luggage. As a result, we never got off the ship until 10:25 a.m.! Needless to say, we missed our flight. Knowing we would, I called our T.A. before we got off the ship and she got us on flights the next day, as well as a room for the night at the Hyatt Pier 66. Our original flights were with United, and I had first called them. They wanted us to pay well over $1000 each for tickets from FLL to Portland, ME. Ridiculous! My TA got us on US Airways for $342 each. Submitted a insurance claim for flights & hotel...waiting to hear.
Oct 9: Flew to Portland and drove home, arriving around 11:00 p.m.
It was an interesting and relaxing cruise. Had a lot of rain, but it didn't really mar the cruise. There were lots of interesting things to do inside or outside on sea days. The Infinity is lovely...and as usual the crew was great. We loved Cellar Masters and Cafe el Bacio, as well as Bistro on Five. The aft Aqua Class balcony was bigger than a standard balcony, and the shower in the bathroom was very nice, with extra jets. They do need to do something about the fact that, even with shower doors, the water leaks onto the floor while you're showering. Must need a tighter door. Not a problem for us, but the room attendant obviously had to replace a soaking wet floor mat every day!
Can't wait for our next Celebrity cruise...April 2013 on the Summit!
Jane Israel Less
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