This was our first cruise with Celebrity and we were both looking forward to the much promoted Celebrity 'Five Star Experience'
We arrived mid/late afternoon having travelled down from the North of England, embarkation was quick as most passengers had already boarded. On boarding we were greeted with a drink but were then left to our own devices, we would have felt more welcomed if there had been members of staff to give information to cabin availability/directions etc. As it was, being very tired after a stressful journey (more of that later!) we decided to find our own way straight to our cabin, in the hope that at this stage in the afternoon it would be ready. Luckily it was... I am always looking forward to my first view of our cabin! What a disappointing first view! as the first thing that caught my eye was the bed with crumpled un-ironed pillow cases & bedding, a duvet that looked too small for the bed and a rather crumpled valance, not the pristine inviting bed that I was expecting. The cabin itself was quite nice but nothing special, I had expected more from a concierge cabin, but we were pleased to find tea and coffee making facilities which we had been told not to expect. There was a bottle of bubbly on ice with fruit set out on the table, I always like a bottle of bubbly to greet you but as to the accompanying fruit...three artfully arranged apples was something I could have done without, much prefer an indulgent box of chocolates! The 'plush Frette bathrobes' had been laundered in the same place as the bedding, creased and compacted rather than soft & fluffy, didn't invite use! Pity there were no slippers though as we could have used them. British cruisers be warned you need to take a two point adapter for hair tongs etc. I hadn't seen that in any of the information, maybe I had missed it. One of the things we did like about the cabin or at least the balcony of the cabin was that unlike most balconies this one had a decent sized high table which proved a real benefit & made having meals on the balcony more enjoyable. This would be a good time to say that we found room service was excellent, efficient, and friendly and the food was delivered on time and hot. A nice touch was that they rang to forewarn you that they were about to deliver, we haven't had that before & really liked it
Having settled ourselves in our cabin and relaxed a bit our first point of call is usually the library to choose ourselves some reading matter for the cruise, as we have always had such good libraries on other ships, both in content and design we were totally dismayed when we saw the library on board Infinity, it is a pokey dark room in the centre of the ship, so no natural light, hopeless for reading in and without the necessary requirement for a library .....a good choice of books! It had the most meagre choice imaginable we just couldn't believe it, it's just a total waste of space and we were sorely disappointed. Be warned and take your own reading matter!
As to the ship itself; it has some nice features but none that we felt were outstanding and certainly no wow factor. The Constellation Lounge, which is Infinities observation lounge, gave a good first impression but we found numerous flaws to our enjoying it during the day, firstly it was rather cold to sit there for any length of time, secondly it was the venue for many of the daily activities such as: choir practice, zumba classes, dance rehearsals, quizzes and loud discussion groups, thirdly we could never order a drink, as we never saw a waiter up there during the day. The other disadvantage is that Celebrity use it as their private functions venue for their Elite guests so other guests were stopped from using it on a number of occasions. Cafe al Bacio we found was a lovely spot for a hot chocolate/speciality coffee & pastries during the day and enjoying a glass of Prosecco while listening to that evening's entertainment. If the weather allows the Sunset bar is a pleasant place to enjoy a snack or a drink and the Rendez Vous Lounge is a nice spot for a cocktail before dinner while listening to the various bands and singers or watching (in our case) your fellow passengers enjoying a dance. The indoor pool area was uninviting but some of the areas outside had a pleasing and relaxed feel.
The buffet restaurant for us was one of the real let downs, the food was repetitive and hot food wasn't hot also we often had difficulty getting drinks there, we ended up just giving it a miss! On the other hand we found both the food and the service, excellent in the main restaurant and we really couldn't fault either, the food was some of the best we have had while cruising. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants which all looked very quiet when we past them. We had one of the inclusive drinks package offers, as we are not big drinkers we had wondered originally if it would be much of a perk for us but actually found it really added to our cruise, as all soft drinks and speciality coffees etc. as well as alcoholic drinks are included.
The theatre was well designed but the main entertainment shows were a very mixed bag, not as good as on other ships we have been on, we felt the entertainment offered around the ship was better. We missed having a dedicated cinema on board although there were some late films on offer in the theatre.
Our Ports of call were; - Torshavn / Reykjavik / Akureyri / Geiranger / Bergen.
Torshavn; The day was mainly fine with a little drizzle, we were told later that this was one of their better days! Torshavn is the world's smallest capital city and it certainly is small but it was prettier than I had expected. It has a small harbour leading onto the old town which is quaint, with grass roofed houses and a cathedral (more a small church) which is beautiful inside and well worth a visit, the newer part of the city has a main street with a few shops leading up to some gardens. We didn't have much time to explore as we were due to go on an excursion in the afternoon, we had booked 'Life as a Faroese'. We hadn't really known what to expect; but about eight of us were greeted on the dock by a young Faroese man who introduced himself and said he and his wife & three children lived on the outskirts of Torshavn and he invited us to visit his home, we all drove off in a small mini bus and as we drove he told us a little about his home city. When we arrived his wife and one of his daughters greeted us and invited us into their home. The home was delightful with a stunning view of the city, after chatting and enjoying homemade cakes & coffee we were treated to a folk song, sung unaccompanied by the young wife, after which we were invited to look around their home. They were delightful hosts and gave us so much insight into their lives & life on the Island, an unusual excursion which we really enjoyed.
Reykjavic; It was cold & raining. We were there for a day & a half, we had booked the 'Golden Circle Tour' for our first day in Reykjavik, although we enjoyed the tour & found it interesting it would have been so much better to see the country side in better weather but I gathered from what the guide said that we had been relatively lucky as the day before it had been foggy with little or no visibility. Our second day there was only half a day and we had decided we would look around Reykjavik on our own, we could have done a whale watching trip or an excursion to the Blue Lagoon, in retrospect we wished we had gone to the Blue lagoon!
Akureyri; We woke up to brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the seventies! The sail in (& out) of the fjord was spectacular, the town & surroundings are prettier than Reykjavik. We were only there for half a day and had booked the 'Nature, Folk & Flora' excursion. Which we enjoyed & could recommend, the only disadvantage was, it was all rather rushed, we felt a full days excursion had been crushed into a half day, we would have preferred to have missed out the visit to the Botanical gardens which was the least interesting part of the tour and stayed longer at the waterfall & museum which was brilliant. If we had been doing our own thing the town looked good to wander around and there seemed to be some lovely walks in the area for those so inclined.
Geiranger; We woke to brilliant sunshine & temperatures in the seventies again! The early morning sail through the fjord was simply stunning and one I'll not forget, the sunshine showing everything off to its best. The captain treat us to a three point turn so we could see each side of the fjord. We had breakfast on our balcony and watched Geiranger slowly come into view....magical. We had expected to use tenders today but we were lucky to be the first cruise ship to use their new 'sea walk' which is like a floating pier which stretches between the ship and landing stage making embarkation a doddle, straight off & on without any hassle. We had sailed in Geiranger fjord before but had not been into Geiranger village so we had decided to spend the day there wandering around. We were glad we did as we had a delightful day, firstly we took a walk; through the village with its plentiful cafes & odd shops, across the bridge and up to look at the waterfall and then through the caravan site along the path by the side of the fjord returning back to the village the same way...wonderful walk on such a lovely day. We could have also taken the path that leads upwards out of the village to the church, this walk apparently gives a magnificent view but on such a hot day we just weren't up to it. In the village itself, there is tiny chocolate factory & cafe worth a visit, the Brasserie Posten is a nice lunch stop it serves good food & has a lovely fjord side terrace, Naustkroa cafe also has a well-placed terrace downstairs right on the fjord side, its an ideal place to enjoy a drink in fine weather, it also serves good food.
Bergen: Another brilliantly sunny day with temperatures in the high seventies, was this really rainy Bergen? We did our own thing here. We've been to Bergen before and love the harbour with its numerous cafes, vibrant fish market and old wooden houses there's a terrific atmosphere to this part of the town which is lacking in the newer part.
All in all we had a lovely cruise just not an exceptional one. There was a wider range of both nationalities & ages compared to other cruises we have been on and a much more casual attitude to dress. All of which we found quite a refreshing change, I only wish I had known beforehand just how casual the dress code was, I could have saved myself a load of packing and I certainly wouldn't have packed my husband's DJ or my evening dresses.
How was our first experience with Celebrity? A bit of a disappointment if I'm honest we were expecting more. The Infinity, if not the newest of ships, is a nice ship but not exceptional, the staff were mostly very efficient & friendly, in fact they were the real plus on board but overall it was not what I would call a five star experience. Too many things that just weren't quite up to scratch and nothing that gave it the 'wow' factor. I think on reflection the disappointment simply came from listening to the hype and expecting too much of Celebrity, we found it on par with P&O and not as good as Cunard or Princess.
Would we sail with them again, maybe if the itinerary was right but with less expectations and probably not from a British port, this is not because of Celebrity but because of the horrendous connecting journeys. As we now find driving down by car to the south coast too much hassle, when we are sailing from a Southern port, we have taken to travelling down by coach, which has always been stress free. Not on this occasion! because Celebritys clientele come from so many parts of the world there weren't enough people travelling from the north of England to warrant a dedicated coach ( only six in fact ) so for the first time ever we had to travel in a mixture of mini buses, taxies & coaches, and feed-in to other coaches, this meant; long waits, badly planned rest stops and multiple changes which was very stressful and made the experience one we wouldn't want to repeat, because of this, I think for cruises sailing from British ports we will stay with cruise lines dedicated to the British market.