Travel on Celebrity Infinity departing December 7th from Fort Lauderdale
Due to infection on board the Celebrity check in times were delayed. An email was sent to passengers, however it was sent on the 7th of December and our plane leaving from LAX left on December 6th. (Note that air arrangements were made by Celebrity). Although we were met at the airport, no assistance with luggage was provided and we were put on buses and taken to the pier where we stood in line for over 2 hours to check-in. No chairs were provided,nor were all the check-in stations manned. At least three of the stations were empty. There were at least 100 chairs in a lounge, but access to the seats were denied. Note that those with suites were give immediate access to the ship even though it was being "sanitized." Rooms were not available until 4:30 PM. The fridge was also locked and some difficulty in finding a key so that I could store my insulin.
It was evident that there had been a major turnover in crew and rumors indicated that 102 new crew members were pressed into a cleaning mode rather than training. Although the dining room staff were excellent, attempting to get drinks throughout the trip in other venue's was difficult at best. Most notable was the Wine Masters and the pool staff. After it became evident that there was a lack of training it became easier to go to the bar for self-service.
Became a joke. The daily paper touted features such as December 16th "Revamp Your Hair" which was as sales pitch for a salon product. Such features about each port were sales pitches about tours, nothing about the area and the culture, markets, etc. If there was to be a shuttle, announcements were not made until the last minute and after tours were fully booked. The presentation of Arnica was particularly poor, as the presenter not only could not get the microphone to work, but had no idea how to operate a power point presentation. Most of the tour staff need to learn about public speaking, how to answer questions from the audience and include some "color" information in their sales pitches. We saw the same "tour" slides in the presentations and on the tv . Everything was read from a script and it seemed as if not one of the tour staff had visited any of the locations. For example letting people know about Mola's in Panama: Mola art was developed when the influences of the modern world caught up with Panama's Kuna culture and the women had access to store bought fabric. Each tribe has a different design and the Mola's you find in the markets of Panama and Ecuador are often from blouses that the women have tired of and cut up for sale. Since the ship has Mola's for sale, letting their passengers know about the art form, where to find them and perhaps a class in the needle-turn applique art would be interesting.
Another example is the LeVian Chocolate Diamond Seminar which was a sales pitch, not information about how diamonds are formed, cut, and/or set. Even information about the diamond market would have been interesting. I did not need information about the LeVian Company. I would have thought about purchasing another diamond had the presentation been something other than a sales pitch.
Three movies were offered on the 15 day cruise, all of them on port days. Most cruise lines offer movies during days at sea. The arts and crafts classes were full and materials not available.
Dr. Rowe's lectures were often interesting; but he needs to get information corrected on tides and engineering. Also some facts about the Chile were in direct contrast to local tour guide information.
It seems hard to believe that we were held up in two ports and confined to ship due to customs. One would think that Celebrity could have confirmed with Peru and Chile to ensure that passengers would not be confined to ship and miss tours. My particular view of the first stop in Peru was the tug tied outside my cabin window. I am probably one of the few passengers that had an excellent shot of the tugboat toilet as the door was left open. I am not sure, but is it the proper procedure to wave while someone shaves or uses the toilet?
As I mentioned before, the staff was excellent. The servings of vegetables were small. Food generally good; diabetic desserts horrible. Would be nice to have sugar free drink other than tea available. The sugar-free ice cream was nice when available. Try adding coffee ice cream to the sugar-free menu. There are more flavors than vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Remember 25% of Americans need sugar-free menu's. The written menu was great at indicating which foods contained, sugar, meat, etc. No local foods were offered. A starter of local foods would have been nice to try.
It should be noted that in Peru it was necessary to move the ship mid-morning. That meant that Princess Star had the prime location. It would seem that Princess Cruise Company had pre-planned and booked the berth. In addition Peruvian dancers and singers did a dock performance on the starboard side of the ship and no announcement of this activity was made so that those on the port side could enjoy the performance. In Chile again Princess had the dock so that we had to use tenders to go to town. The wait was three hours, which limited time ashore. Again, the officer in charge had no comments which would have given the passengers personal information about the town itself. Trying to gain information on how to access buses etc. is difficult when your second language is not Spanish.
When open there was a lack of reading material.
Our intent was to go to the airport via the transfer we purchased through Celebrity air/transfer package. Trying to gain information about baggage location and check-in through guest relations was hopeless. The transfer driver did not speak one word during the two hour trip (other transfers have had someone to talk about the area, etc. I expected more from Celebrity). The driver parked about 2 blocks from the international departure area and had no idea where our luggage was. After many attempts to locate the luggage, it was sitting on the sidewalk without security. Anyone could pick it up. Then after 10 hours of trying to get a wheelchair for my husband (LAN problem), 4 hours sitting and waiting to check our luggage we were able to board the 11 hour flight to LAX to find my luggage missing. Two hours of attempting to file a report at LAX and 2 days later having my luggage returned without the jewelry I had packed, I am at odds with the airline as to when the items were stolen, in Celebrity hands or the airport.
This is not to say I did not enjoy the cruise. I am at odds as to whether or not to try Celebrity again. The disorganization and management from the beginning (Did I mention that Celebrity misspelled my husband's name on our air tickets and would not make changes until our travel agent returned from his vacation?) to end was poor. The lack of training of staff is evident. The distress of fellow passengers was vocalized frequently. One women we spoke with at the airport indicated that she has taken 40 cruises with Celebrity and this was the worst one. The lack of communication and long lines were distressing. It saddens me that I might have to look elsewhere for future cruises and perhaps tell friends and family to do so.