Good Canal crossing with Celebrity: Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by BlackCat5
Overall Member Rating
Good Canal crossing with Celebrity
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: San Diego
The ship: I have read other reviews that suggested the Infinity was a little less for wear, but though newer ships may have more glitz, I thought Infinity was lovely and generally well-maintained. I saw a few spots in the bathroom that needed repair, and spots of rust on outside areas, but otherwise the ship was clean with elegant decor. I did notice a strange odor in the stairways on several days, but it eventually subsided.
My room: I specifically selected a balcony because I had read this would be essential for getting the full experience of the Canal crossing. I loved having the balcony just for its own sake and would probably recommend one for any cruise (in the More right season), but there was plenty of room on the outside decks to view the Canal at any time during the day. The balcony didn't add extra value for that. It was nice, however, to have a quiet spot to get away to, as this was not always available in the public rooms of the ship. Bedding was extremely comfortable. On occasion, bathroom towels were rather thin.
Concierge class: This seems to consist of tiny hors d'oeuvres delivered to my room around 4 p.m., a welcome bottle of champagne, and a flower in the bathroom. These really didn't add to the experience, just the cost of the cruise.
Cabin service: Bathroom was more than adequate with a roomy shower, nice toiletries and plenty of hot water with a handheld shower. Attendant took good care of the room except for the last day, when breakfast dishes were still in the room at 4 p.m. (Delivered hors d'oeuvres but neglected to remove dirty dishes!) Also, towel animals at bedtime were nowhere to be found.
Food: Trellis restaurant was the main dining venue. Selections were plentiful and food presentation was consistently upscale and nouveau. However, the actual taste of the food was sometimes lacking. For more casual dining I used the Oceanview cafe several times, where chicken, steaks, pizza, sushi, salads and an array of desserts were always excellent. The ice cream bar was always busy and the varied flavors were enticing. But again, some of the more unusual flavors (cardamon, mango, cinnamon) didn't deliver on taste. Strawberry, chocolate and vanilla were always good. Can't comment on the specialty restaurants.
Celebrity Life: This is Celebrity's schedule of activities, and they were varied. There was no way to be bored during the 14 days. There were the typical karaoke, trivia contests, line dancing, watercolor classes, ping pong, but also excellent guest speakers - an archeologist and physicist - for more intellectual entertainment. (Their talks were well-attended.) On two days there were movies - The Hunger Games and Mirror, Mirror - which I thought odd given the demographics of the passengers (see below). A few of the crew hosting the games and events were outstanding entertainers. The "professional" comedian I thought a little lame, but the singers and musicians in general were worth the effort to attend. These weren't Broadway extravaganzas, but nicely put-together hour-long shows (Kuba playing multiple instruments, tango dancers, etc.) Classical musicians played throughout the ship almost every day.
The library: sorely lacking. Old, old books, and not too many of them. Only a few board games. No magazines. And, the cold temperature in room made it unusable for the entire cruise. I reported this to a crew member but the problem was never fixed.
Fitness opportunities: One could walk around level 10 several times, or add to the difficulty level by going up the stairs to 11 and down and around to level 10 again, for outside walking. The gym was fair, equipped with weights and treadmills, and 2 rowing machines. Machines were all packed closely together. There were cycles for spinning classes, priced at $12 per class - way too much - and I never saw them used. Never had to wait to get to a machine.
Service in general: With some exception, very good. I had a problem with the room initially assigned to me. It had a connecting door, thus no solid wall. I could hear the couple in the adjoining room too often, too clearly - her coughing, his belching - and at all hours of the night. My cabin steward tried to fix the problem by putting masking tape around the door and a towel at the foot of the door to block out the sounds. You can imagine what this looked like - a premium-priced cabin decked out in masking tape! I finally asked to have a new room, and I was immediately given another, although no one properly prepared it. It had a musty smell, dead flowers in the bathroom, no turndown service. It took a day or two for the staff to get the room in shape. Also, moving unpacked possessions is a pain, and no one on staff offered any kind of help with this. In another vein, I thought service on decks and in restaurants was good. Tables were always promptly cleared, especially important for trying to get a table at prime eating times.
The itinerary: Ports were OK, but since I had been to those in Mexico and Central America before, I didn't take Celebrity shore excursions, which many said were overpriced and not especially illuminating. There were TV videos prior and during the Canal crossing, and commentary over the broadcast system throughout the crossing. You couldn't escape the history or mechanics of the Canals' operating systems, which is what we were all there to see.
The Hype: Celebrity was constantly selling. A tour behind the scenes in the kitchen - interesting in itself - ended in a hard sell to sign up for a specialty restaurant. A makeup "lesson" in the spa - all of 15 minutes - ended in a big push to buy the product. Celebrity disguised too many of its infomercials as Celebrity Life experiences.
The passengers: For me, this was the most astonishing part of the cruise. Someone put the median age of the group at 70; I would have guessed 75. More than once a line had to form behind someone on a cane walking down a hallway, unable to pass because of the narrow space. This ship was an old-folks home! And a noticeably large number were large, as in morbidly obese. As an American being served by a young international crew, I was embarrassed to see so many really, really fat and out-of-shape people (all lining up for their 2,3 scoops of ice cream).
Embarkation: A breeze in San Diego. Don't get Concierge class with its priority boarding, it's not needed. Everyone in all clases waited for maybe half an hour before actual boarding, were met by waiters serving champagne, then went immediately to lunch. Easy.
Disembarking: Horrific. Getting off the ship was easy, but Ft. Lauderdale doesn't have the facilities to handle 2,000 people at once. It took more than an hour to snake along in a maddening crush until getting to the desk of one bored customs agent who barely looked at you before passing you along - to the dreary and outdated Ft. Lauderdale airport. I would do whatever it takes to avoid Ft. Lauderdale as the cruise endpoint. And this was with one ship disgorging its passengers! Imagine what it's like when 2 or 3 of these large ships pull into port at once. Half a day will be spent getting through customs.
Summary: Celebrity is not too bad on the seas. The Infinity was pleasant; food more than acceptable; crew friendly and engaging and fairly efficient; activities maybe not uniformly superior, but definitely acceptable. Loungers and deck chairs were always available, and for this particular cruise, the weather was perfect. So, overall, it was a good trip. But for me, as an active and fit 66-year-old, in a time when 60 is the new 40, Celebrity's aged and seriously senior clientele will have me looking for a more youthful ship (if that exists!). Less
Panama Canal from aft balcony.
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