We took the Wine Immersion Cruise on September 30. Our package included a free Classic Beverage Package for both of us and free excursions in Vigo and Porto. Most of the cruise passengers seemed to have the beverage package. The cruise had overnight stays in Le Havre, La Rochelle and Bilbao. The overnights are great because you have time for some lengthy shore excursions and don't need to rush back to the ship.
Perhaps it was because so many passengers had the beverage package, but it was very hard to get beverage service in the main dining room or the Oceanview Café. Once a wine steward determined that everyone at the table had a beverage package, it was often difficult to get the steward to return to the table. In the Oceanview Café, my husband went to the service bar and presented our cards to get wine. We were ignored by the wine stewards, even after we asked a waiter for wine. As the cruise progressed, it seemed that the ship might have been running out of wine. It got harder and harder to get more than one glass of wine at dinner. We had Celebrity Select dining and ate at different tables in different parts of the dining room every evening. Many evenings, my husband had a soft drink, and I ordered a mixed drink. These were served by the bar attendants, not the wine stewards, and the service wasn't any better. We are not big drinkers, and I would never purchase the beverage package, because for us it isn't worth it. You can't get a cappuccino in the Oceanview Café anymore. You have to go to Café Al Bacio. The service there was even worse. I stood for 10 minutes by the pastries, waiting to be served. I was ignored, so I walked downstairs to Customer Relations and asked them how I was supposed to get waited on. They got the beverage manager to accompany me back to the Café Al Bacio. The staff also ignore the Beverage Manager, who apologized to me. I never did get a cappuccino. In the main dining room, the service was very slow. We often sat at a table for 6. Often, 3 or 4 of us were served, and then waited 5 minutes for the other 2 guests to get their dinner. There seemed to be a shortage of assistant waiters. Regardless of where we sat in the dining room, our waiter seemed to be doing most of the work. Getting a refill of water took 20 minutes, and you had to ask.
The service on the Infinity has definitely gone downhill since June. We were on the British Isles cruise then. The food in the Oceanview Café was never hot, sometimes only lukewarm. Also, most of the food was highly spiced Mexican or Asian. It was difficult to find anything that was plain, as the serving pans for these items were always empty. The Oceanview Café was very clean. Waiters worked hard to clear the tables. Food was served by the dining staff, rather than self-serve. We were pleased to see this. It's much more sanitary than the self-service Celebrity used to have.
The service at the Elite cocktail hour was great. If you wanted a soft drink or a cocktail, you were waited on quickly and efficiently. The Captain's Club hostess had a few favorites and pretty much ignored everyone else. She is not the same hostess that we had in June. Many ship employees had changed between June and September 30.
We only saw 2 of the shows because we had already seen them on other cruises. Also, dinner took so long due to the slow service that the shows has already started by the time we finished dinner.
Mostly, we took private excursions. We took the Celebrity excursion to Cognac. It consisted of a slow bus ride to Cognac, followed by a tour of the Hennessey Distillery, which was lovely, a short walk around the business district (15 minutes), lunch, which was decent but took 1.5 hours, a drive to Saintes, another short free time (20 minutes), and a drive to the Roman amphitheater where we could look through the fence at the amphitheater for 10 minutes, then a long bus ride back, with a slow ride through La Rochelle. The tour was expensive, and compared to our private tours, over-priced. We spent a long time on the bus and didn't really see very much. Also took the free Celebrity excursion to Santiago de Compostela. Getting a number and getting on the bus was a free-for-all. very hectic. Our tour was lovely. We had a very knowledgeable guide, and we saw a lot of the town. We were one of the first buses to get there, so we did not experience long waits for the restroom. With so many cruise passengers, the square got crowded, but our guide handled it well. Santiago de Compostela is a lovely town and the cathedral is beautiful. This was a great excursion, although it was a 75 minute bus ride each way.
The Infinity is showing it's age. It is due for a major overhaul. The weather stripping on our balcony door was coming apart. The elevators seem to have a mind of their own, often skipping floors. There was a lot of rust on our balcony. The internet service was incredibly slow. It took 5 minutes to download 8 emails. Everyone complained about how slow the internet was.
We are not impressed with the Classic beverage package. Many of the drinks cannot be purchased because they exceed the price limit $9.25 for the package. If you want a $9.50 drink, you have to pay $9.50 for it, not the .25 difference in price. That's just stupid. We were never offered an after-dinner drink in the main dining room. The wine stewards and bar servers were hard to find. Even in the bars, if you ordered a drink with your beverage card, the server never came back to see if you wanted a refill. It was as if they had been told to minimize the amount passengers could charge on the card. Also, if you wanted a bottle of water, they gave you a one liter bottle. If you asked for a smaller bottle, they refused to give it to you unless you paid for it. You could not get a bottle of Perrier with the Classic beverage card, but you could get a Heineken or a Coke. This policy is stupid. It just makes people angry, but it doesn't make them buy the small bottles of water.
We ate in the SS United States. Fabulous food, totally worth the cover charge. In the SS United States, the wine steward was attentive. The service was great. There were lots of empty tables. Sad, because it was the best dining experience we had on the ship. Also ate in the Bistro on Five. The food is pretty good, and so was the service. We had lunch there. Also worth the cover charge.
If Celebrity is going to offer most of the passengers a free beverage package, then they need to stock up on wine, beer and spirits and actually serve them to the clientele. If you do not drink lots of alcohol, the package isn't worth what they charge.