Our first cruise was also with Celebrity, on the Century, last year, and it speaks volumes that little over a year later we were back on a cruise with the same company. It is very difficult to find any faults with our cruise to the Norwegian Fjords on the Celebrity Infinity. Although we're a little younger than the usual cruise population (early thirties), we have so far found that Celebrity fits our needs perfectly; great food and drink, stylish ships, and super-friendly staff on board; to me, it really feels like they do their best to keep up standards and give everyone a great time.
It took around half an hour from parking to get on the ship at Harwich - everything was smooth, well-organised and easy. The champagne greeting is a lovely welcome, and the sun was shining to match my mood as I settled into holiday mode.
We opted for a mid-ship inside cabin, which was very similar to our cabin on the Century. It had everything you needed, and though compact, had enough room to store all our clothes and belongings, and was nicely styled. It was a quiet cabin - the only noise we ever heard was from our cabin attendant greeting our fellow passengers outside the room. Speaking of which, our attendant was great, keeping the cabin clean and tidy; only problem for me, and I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem for most, was that he was slightly too attentive - I don't feel the need for someone to be at my beck and call, and asking after how I am every time I open the cabin door.
We found the food on the ship to be exceptional. We tried every restaurant, including Qsine, SS United States and Bistro on Five, and found both the food and the service to be excellent. The service in SS United States was the best I've received, and Qsine is so inventive, I believe they are both worth the extra cash - you are on holiday, after all. Lunch on the first day was in Bistro on Five - recommended for a peaceful meal while the buffet is busy. In the main dining room, on select dining, most nights we were able to sit at table for 2, which was our preference. The food never disappointed, despite the high numbers of people they cater for. I'd recommend the pool grill for a tasty burger as an alternative lunch, something we didn't get round to trying on our previous cruise. My one point of recommendation for Celebrity with regards to food and drink - it would be nice to have the option to try some foods from the area you are visiting on the cruise - a local goats cheeses, locally caught fish, beer from the local brewery etc., whether this is part if the daily menu, or a one-off special event. It would really enhance the cultural aspect of the cruise, particularly for those who found it too expensive to eat and drink off the ship in Norway. As you may have noticed, I have a 'worry about the cost when you get home' attitude, but others didn't and I felt they missed out a little.
We had the classic drinks package as part of our booking deal, and upgraded to premium on arriving on the ship. I'm glad we did, as we spent many an hour in the Martini bar in the evening; it had the best and friendliest bar staff, and a younger feel, with more up-to-date music than in the other bar areas. We loved the flexibility of the drinks package, and I was able to drink pots of tea to my hearts content in the cafe - at $4.75 a pop I didn't even try one pot on our previous cruise and missed having a proper cuppa (the tea in the MDR/buffet doesn't cut it for me). We enjoyed trying different wines with dinner, having a few beers and cocktails by the pool, picking up a handy bottle of water each time we left the ship. Just helps add to that relaxed, free and easy feeling of being on holiday.
The weather was pretty great on our cruise, as far as Norway goes, and we were able to spend time relaxing in the sunshine on the deck, as well as enjoying our time on land. I used the solarium pool, hot tubs and sauna several times, which was a great way to relax after a busy day. I also used the gym, which had everything to meet my needs - could do with being a little more air conditioned for my personal taste.
We took three excursions through Celebrity, and three independent tours. All were great. Celebrity organises its excursions very well; yes, they are a bit more expensive than DIY, but in my experience they have delivered. I'd recommend getting out and about in the countryside if you are able to - our favourite days were when we spent time hiking in Flam and Geiranger; I feel those who stuck to the train, or bus tours, missed out a little. We loved the Flamsbana train, but the views from above could not beat our 7 mile hike down through the valley after.
Entertainment on the ship was mixed - we found the dancers/singers to be better than our last cruise, but I was less keen on the other choices. There were 2 guitarists/singers, which were both quite good, but there could have done with being a little more variety. The string trio were excellent, the rest of the entertainers, so so. Mostly though, the entertainment is not aimed at our age group, so can't complain too much. The Cruise Director was excellent, and very visible throughout the cruise, and the activities manager did a very good Derren Brown style 'mentalism' act on the final night, which was a cut above the usual cheesy cruise entertainment. On request, the entertainment team arranged for the men's Wimbledon final to be shown in the theatre, which was a nice touch, and fun for the Brits to celebrate Andy Murray's triumph.
I really have very little to complain about on this cruise; I paid for the cheapest cabin, but received fantastic service, and made memories I will never forget. We did spot a few sour faces on our fellow passengers around the ship from time to time, but generally feel that a person's attitude massively impacts on enjoyment - we set out to enjoy this cruise, and Celebrity did nothing to disappoint. Well done, we'll be back.