Celebrity picked us up on time at Heathrow and it was a pleasant enough 3 hour bus ride to Harwich, as was the ride back. We'd been on the Infinity the year before and knew what to expect. One of the highlights on this cruise was the excursion from Le Havre to Paris. It was a long day but very well-organized so that we saw a surprisingly large number of the sights. The knowledgeable and friendly guide was a major plus, as was the lunch on one of the Seine bateaux. Elsewhere, the distance of the ports from the major attractions was a bit of a surprise and required using a local bus (or train, in the case of Glasgow). Cruise lines have a conflict of interest here as their profit generally comes from selling excursions, so they don't always provide ready access to local travel information for those going into town on their own. One problem arose in Waterford, where a rogue bus operator mixed in with the local transit authority. A bunch of Infinity passengers waited in vain for the rogue bus to show up on the return trip before giving up and taking a regular local bus back to the ship. Generally, the local transit in Ireland and Scotland was top-notch and gave us a chance to meet some of the townspeople. The bus from the dock outside of Cork city left us off on a dreary stretch of the quay but just on the other side of the bridge was St. Patrick St., the town's lovely main thoroughfare, with banners flying and Celtic music coming from loudspeakers. Another unexpected gem was Inverness, including the 40 minute bus ride from the dock at Invergordon. The views of the Scottish highlands all along the way were stunning. Liverpool was the only port where embarkation was right in the middle of everything. Albert Dock is loaded with restaurants, museums, and local tour operators. We took a short tour and then walked around on our own. Great town, particularly on a soccer game day when the streets were packed with supporters. The anthem of the Liverpool FC is "You'll Never Walk Alone," which was literally the case during our visit there.
On the Infinity, entertainment and food were excellent, including the two specialty restaurants that we tried. The staff of the entire ship works hard and seems to do their jobs well.Disembarkation was long and slow, as usual
It was a ten minute ride from the dock to the bus stop on Kildare St., in front of the National Library. This was a convenient location, just a few minutes walk from some of our favorite sights: Trinity College (with very long lines on this sunny Saturday for the Book of Kells), Grafton St. (packed with international and local visitors, and reminiscent of Fifth Avenue in New York or Michigan Avenue in Chicago), Temple Bar (a cobblestoned nightlife center, quiet by day), Merrion Square (gorgeous town houses), and St. Stephen's Green. The Molly Malone statue near O'Connell bridge is clearly intended as a tourist magnet but on our visit, a family band (mostly kids) were playing traditional Irish music. Speaking of which, there are a few stores in Dublin that still sell CDs, Tower Records on Wicklow St., a half-block from Grafton St., has a good supply of locally produced Celtic music CDs that you'd have to buy on-line anywhere else. Our only problem in Dublin was finding a place to eat lunch, since every restaurant within a few hundred yards of the Liffey was crowded, outrageously expensive, or dealing with health issues (thawing frozen chicken in the same display case with the stuff going into the next sandwich).