Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by iHeartGlaciers: Fun Cruise, Amazing Itinerary, Onboard Activities Lacking
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Fun Cruise, Amazing Itinerary, Onboard Activities Lacking
Had a great time aboard the Infinity. Good size and it amazingly never feels crowded (lot of different lounging areas to hang out). We had a nice mix of 5 ports (Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Iceland (1.5 days); Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Geiranger, Norway; Bergen, Norway) and 4 sea days.
TRANSPORTATION FROM LONDON
We took the train from Liverpool Street Station to Harwich International, but instead of taking the non-stop "cruise train", we took the cheaper train that has one transfer at Manningtree at a significant savings (only $14 per person!) and is only a few minutes longer than the non-stop cruise train. The transfer is technically 5 minutes, but there's no mad dash necessary when you get to Manningtree. The train is waiting there and expecting lots of cruise passengers. You have to go down a set of stairs (24 steps I believe), across a hallway, and back up another set of stairs (24 steps again). We had a big party of 15 (ages from 3-75). Unless you More have trouble with stairs, the transfer was very easy.
CONDITION OF THE SHIP
Can you tell the Infinity is an older ship? Yes, but it's in good condition. I don't remember seeing any excessive dirt, rust, etc. anywhere. I saw the crew constantly cleaning and making repairs throughout the trip.
I went with a large party and we had a mix of rooms (veranda and inside). We were all happy with our rooms except one couple who had a room next to a storage area (one of those rooms next to a blank space on the map). They encountered a lot of noise around 6am, which they couldn't really resolve with Guest Relations (they did attempt to make up for it with chocolate covered strawberries and a 10% off a future cruise coupon).
I was in 7173 (veranda) and loved it. My stateroom was clean and had a good amount of storage space. I shared the storage with three other people (yes, we were all squished in one room!) and there was enough spots for all of our stuff and plenty of hangers (no need for an over the door shoe organizer or anything like that). The wire shelves in the bathroom (in the shower and by the sink) fit a lot of toiletries. The room is right at the elevator bank but we didn't have a problem with noise. While you could hear the elevator ring at times, it was faint and didn't bother us. We never really heard people's voices that much either. Having a "hump" balcony was nice with four people in one room! I thought the main bed was pretty comfortable, the "bunk bed" that comes out of the ceiling was decently comfortable, and the sofa pull out bed wasn't that comfortable.
Nightly chocolates are gone. We got individually wrapped chocolate covered Oreos on our beds for the first formal night. When we asked our stateroom attendant if we could get more, he said only on formal nights, but we didn't get any on the second formal night. Not a big deal (it's not like we were lacking for food!), but a little strange to only get them on 1 of 11 nights.
I really like the assortment of pools (6 hot tubs, wave pool, therapeutic indoor pool). The only things I would change would be to make the outdoor hot tubs hotter (my guess was they were keeping the temperature down because lots of kids were using them because the indoor hot tubs were nice and toasty) and to extend the pool hours by one hour to 11pm. It would be nice to enjoy the hot tub after the evening show.
Everyone we encountered was friendly and hardworking. Special shoutout to our server, Roberto, in the Select Dining area who we had almost every day (we had a standing reservation since our party was so big). He was amazing. Roberto was accommodating and had an excellent memory which he used to be proactive whenever possible. He even had a few magic tricks up his sleeve for the kids :-) Roberto took great care of us!
Shows were a little hit or miss, but generally entertaining. Obviously the production cast isn't going to be Broadway quality, but it was fun to watch the shows at night. There were even two singers from the West End (Philippa Healy was amazing) and a really good string duo. The first comedian/magician wasn't that great, but the second guest comedian was pretty funny.
The buffet was decent (I appreciated that some of the options rotated daily) and the food in the Trellis dining room was good, particularly the chef and server recommendations. Because we left from the UK, there were a lot of British foods included in the buffet (traditional english breakfast foods, fish and chips, etc.). One night in the MDR featured a Top Chef menu (recipes from winning Top Chef entries) and those meals were excellent.
As others have noted, the Grand Buffet is gone. On the last sea day they had two chocolate fountains in the Oceanview Buffet with ice and watermelon carvings.
We're big activity users, and there were some big hits (watercolor class, navigation talk, officers v. guests events, port mini lectures) but some disappointment on the variety and quality of the game activities (trivia, name that tune). I don't have the dailes from when I was on the Infinity two years ago, but we remembered thinking there was always a lot going on at the same time. This trip it seemed like there were definitely less activities that weren't associated with making money (Bingo, spa-related lectures, events associated with the shops or art auctions). This seemed to result in certain events (like trivia and name that tune) getting so crowded you couldn't find a seat in the Constellation Lounge.
The pub trivia night run by the CD (Pete) and the Activities Manager (Micky) was well done, but otherwise there were generally 2-3 trivias/name that tune per day and we felt they weren't well done. They were really going for quantity over quality as they were short and it just felt like they were "checking the box" and not putting together an engaging activity. We participated in almost all of them anyway and made the best of it, but we were a bit disappointed.
Here's more info on the activities we liked a lot:
- Watercolor classes (These were held each sea day morning by an artist from NYC and were a lot of fun)
- Navigation talk (Held by the staff captain and was very interesting)
- Guests v. Officers games (Various activities like Dancing with the Officers, Family Feud, and a Casino Challenge were entertaining and well done)
- Sampling of free fitness classes throughout the trip (there were free classes mixed with the paid classes during the trip)
- Port mini lectures (Called Destination Highlights, these 15-minute presentations usually happened the night before a port and were informative in giving an overview of the destination and the activities available. The Port Lecturer was knowledgeable and also talked a lot about doing the port on your own, without an excursion. She was also kept office hours during the day to consult which was helpful for planning).
On a side note, they could really use more board games available through Guest Services, especially with less activities going on it seems like a cheap way to provide entertainment. They only had maybe 5 games and only 1 had all the pieces.
I would've also liked there to be a lecture/presentation on the history and lore of each port like there was on the Alaska cruise we went on 2 years ago.
TORSHAVN, FAROE ISLANDS
We did the Scenic Faroe and Pancakes tour through Celebrity. I don't usually do bus excursions through the ship, but picked this one for various reasons. I'm not a fan of the big bus style tours, so I'm not sure I would do it again. But we did drive through some pretty landscapes and stopped for some yummy pancakes (although the portion was really small). Unfortunately it was a very cloudy/foggy day so we didn't stop at any of the scenic viewpoints since we wouldn't be able to see anything. The town we visited was underwhelming, but the weather wasn't exactly cooperating so it's hard to give a fair review of this tour. Being an active person, I think I would've preferred to do the hiking tour with the ship to really experience the beautiful landscape. The port lecturer gave some of our friends a suggested hike to do from the dock, but otherwise there didn't seem to be much to do in Torshavn itself. I would recommend getting out of the town on an excursion or rental car if possible.
We did the Golden Circle tour with GeoIceand. Their vans only fit about 15-17 people so the group size is nice and small. Our guide, Gerta, was great and it was fun hearing her stories about growing up on the island. There is also wifi on the van, which was nice (it seems most tour vehicles here have wifi). She even squeegeed our windows during the stops to maintain our great view! The stops on the Golden Circle are touristy, but breathtaking. Gerta would often drop us off at one location and pick us up at a different area so we only had to walk one way, which was convenient. Having a small van allowed us more mobility and flexibility, for instance at the Faxi waterfall we were able to park in a lower lot and get really close to the waterfall (I noticed people in larger tour buses seemed to only look at the waterfall from a higher viewpoint).
On the second day (which was a half day), I did the horseback riding tour with the ship. It was a really nice ride (although you do ride very close together in a big group) and the Icelandic horses are lovely, I just wish the ride was a bit longer. We got to experience their unique tolt gait, which was cool. This ride would definitely be cheaper if you booked on your own, but given the limited time frame of our half day, I went through the ship to make sure we'd be back in time for the departure time.
Because of the excursions I booked, I didn't get a chance to walk around Reykjavik, but friends did recommend the stand with affordable lobster rolls. They were mixed on the famous hot dog stand.
LERWICK, SHETLAND ISLANDS
Did a tour with Shetland Geotours, which was great. The guy who runs it, Allen, uses an 8-person van so the group size is very small. Allen is very knowledgeable and it was a great introduction to the Island. We saw lots of puffins at Samburg Lighthouse (if you have an SLR camera with a zoom lens, bring it!), the Viking ruins, and some other scenic points.
This beautiful port is easy to do on your own. We hiked ourselves up to the waterfall, and then came back to the junction of Westeras farm and went the other way to the first outlook (not all the way to Losta). It was a strenuous hike (especially after a week and a half of inactivity and overeating on the ship), and this came from several experienced hikers. Doing both hikes (from the dock) took about 5 hours for us (with some short breaks and lots of photo taking). If you want to see the waterfall with a less strenuous hike, the ship has a tour that buses you up to Westeras (with a waffle meal) and you hike the rest of the way up to the waterfall (we ran into this group and it was huge, which would definitely detract from the experience). The views were beautiful getting up the mountains and it was worth the trek. The signs and trails are pretty clear, so it's hard to get lost. You can buy a trail map at the tourist information center or print one online in advance for free (http://www.visitalesund-geiranger.com/en/BROCHURESMAPS/Hiking-routes-in-Geiranger/).
Some people in our party did one of the mountain bus tours through the ship instead of hiking and said it was amazing.
Having signed up for this cruise for the natural wonders, I didn't think Bergen would be that interesting to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a cute city and I enjoyed walking around. First we hiked up to the viewpoint (where the funicular drops you off). It was fairly steep and took us over an hour. Then we took the funicular back down. There was nothing really of note to see during that hike, so if I did it again, I'd take the funicular to the top to hike around up there instead (there is a troll park and a bike tour you can buy tickets for up there) and then take the funicular back down to walk around the city. There are also intermediate funicular stops along the mountain (which we tried to abandon our hike and take), but the machines only take chip credits cards (manned ticket booths are only available at the bottom and top).
Walking around the city, you definitely have to stop at the fish market (there are a bunch of free samples to try there too) and the shops in the old part of town. I loved the artist with the wood cut prints down one of the alleyways. The city runs a free shuttle from where the cruise docks to the center of town. The shuttles were very efficient (they run frequently and there are a lot of them) and some have free wifi.
DALIES AND IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Here's a link to the dalies and the In the Spotlight (names/bios of the officers) at the end. Sorry that I'm missing the second page of the daily for July 31, the day we were in Lerwick.
I had a great time on the cruise and am really sad the trip is over! Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Infinity 7173
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