After a superb experience cruising the Mediterranean last year aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, we took our daughters on a cruise around the British Isles this summer on the Celebrity Infinity, hoping for a similar experience. Sadly, our experience aboard the Infinity did not meet our expectations.
The cruise embarked from the port of Harwich, approximately a 2-hour drive from London. We opted for the Celebrity transportation from Heathrow Airport to Harwich and we were immediately disappointed. The company providing the transportation did not make themselves easily visible, although we did locate them. We were told that our bus would be here in 60-90 minutes and we were encouraged to explore Heathrow for coffee and breakfast and told to return in an hour. Ten minutes later, after our grown daughters had gone for shopping and coffee, we were told to get on the bus. This necessitated a mad dash around the airport on my part trying to reassemble our family, made all the more unpleasant by the rudeness of the transportation company which had just precipitated the problem with their misinformation.
Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of the cruise was the inaccurate itinerary advertised by Celebrity. All of the online material, the printed itinerary, and the dining itinerary indicated that on Day 8 (Monday August 11, 2014) and Day 9 (Tuesday August 12, 2014), the ship would be ported at Greenock, Scotland near Glasgow and about 2 hours from Edinburgh. This was very misleading. The ship arrived in port at Greenock at 7 am on 8/11/14 and departed 19 hours later at 2 am on 8/12/14. Thus, Day 9 was a day spent at sea, not in the port of Greenock. Thus, we had one day to see both Glasgow and Edinburgh, not two. I checked with multiple other passengers who had also interpreted the published schedule to mean that we had 2 days in port near Glasgow, not one. No one on the ship could explain why the itinerary did not mention that 8/12/14 was a Sea Day. We had signed up to see The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the evening of 8/11/14, not realizing that taking this excursion through Celebrity precluded us from touring the city of Edinburgh, which was one of the principle goals of the trip. For some reason, Celebrity constructed the excursion to Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo in such a manner that one could not tour the city in the morning and afternoon and see the show in the evening, which I suspect most passengers would have preferred.
The other ports of call on the trip were fine, the highlight being a non-Celebrity tour of Cork, Cobh, Kinsale and the Blarney Castle in Ireland by eCoach tours. The food on the Infinity was good, the crew was pleasant if somewhat unenthusiastic, and the entertainment was superb.
The first port of call was Le Havre, France where we had scheduled a Celebrity tour of Normandy for all four of us. Unfortunately, the tour was one of the worst we have taken anywhere in the world. The tour guide seemed intent on persuading us all that the French were the true heroes of WWII and the British, not so much. We are neither French nor British, but the hostility toward the British seemed inappropriate for the setting. The tour itself was orchestrated poorly. At Utah beach, the guide walked off the front of the bus and briskly toward the beach, never looking back. By the time the passengers in the back of the bus got off, he was 100 yards away and nearly out of sight. The slower moving passengers barely made it to a point where they could see the beach before it was time to return to the bus. This pattern repeated itself at future stops. We spent 10 minutes at Utah Beach and 5 minutes at Omaha Beach. We did have adequate time to see the American Cemetery, but not enough time to see both the Cemetery and the adjacent museum. We then spent an interminable 3 hours at the big Normandy museum where, once again, at least a dozen passengers could not locate the guide as he led us to lunch. When confronted by several very angry patrons who could not locate him for lunch, his response was belligerent rather than apologetic. Overall, the excursion was the worst we have experienced on any cruise.