This was our first cruise with Celebrity. We have cruised Princess a couple of times and Holland America once in addition to three river cruises in Europe. We got an inside cabin on deck two and a senior citizen discount. (This could well be our choice when it comes to assisted living.) We got a really good fare on American from Chicago ($909 each) to Buenos Aires with a return from Santiago, and arrived in BA two days early so we could tour the city. We arranged with friends (ha! Our friend arranged) the tour guide to pick us up at the airport, we checked into our hotel (the Marriott at Plaza San Martin) and had breakfast, then took off on the tour with a special viewing of Evita's Mausoleum, the Boca district where a tango dancer got her picture taken with me while she patted me down trying to find my wallet, a tour of the suburbs, a rail trip and a boat trip on the Rio Plata. We returned for a rest and did some shopping on Calle Florida, especially at the leather shop. My wife bought a very inexpensive full length leather coat and I looked at heavy coats for Chicago winters. They were all too narrow in the shoulders (I'm an old fat white guy.) That evening we went to Taconeando for a superb tango experience. The food was adequate, but the dancing was out of sight. We were the only Americans there and everyone else sang along with the singers. Way double plus cool! No one spoke much English, but I got our group by on my surprisingly fluent 40 year old high school Spanish. And I speak food in any language. The next day we took a taxi to some of the outdoor markets and bought a few trinkets, had lunch at the hotel, and took taxis with our mongo baggage to the ship.
Boarding the Infinity was not a great experience because of the bedlam at the pier. All baggage had to go through customs and screening, but it wasn't well organized. Because we had made internet reservations, we never received baggage tags and had to find someone who could help us with that.
Once aboard, the steward who took us to our stateroom wandered around the deck looking for it until he finally found it, while we trailed him. Our cheap inside room on deck 2 was clean and reasonably sized. The bathroom was larger than on some ships where I could sit on the toilet, shave and shower at the same time. Our room steward was very pleasant and attentive. Our travel buddies had the stateroom next to us, and that worked out great. On the diagram when we chose the room there was a stairway, but it turned out to be the staff stairs, and we were right in the middle between elevators. We were fine with the room, especially since its price allows us to take more trips.
Dining experiences: We ate at the Trellis every evening but one (I like to be waited on and I don't like to carry trays - I'm always afraid of tripping, not that I ever have), and that evening we went to the Argentine rodizio dinner on 10. It takes special reservations which must be made by telephone the morning of the dinner, which is announced in the daily program. There are only three or four during the cruise, so it's very competitive and the reservations fill up within 15 minutes. There is a suggested $2 tip per person for the dinner, which is a light buffet with heavy servings of meat. A "si" or "no" card on your table tells the servers if you want to try yet another kind of meat. We had three kinds of beef including brisket and filet to die for, lamb, pork, ham and chicken offered to us. We couldn't eat them all and by the time the dinner was over I felt as if I had eaten lead, my own fault. We ate breakfast in our room several times, and it was delivered exactly at the earliest time possible noted on the hang-on-the-doorknob card. When we ate in the Trellis, we found they had run out of certain juices. Dinner at the Trellis was fun with our travel buddies and a French couple who were charming (but exhausting to try to understand their accents). [A digression and my own rant here: everyone we met on board spoke English, pretty good English. Most of the native English speakers, however, spoke no other language, and I heard a lot of negative comments about learning a second language. One person even was ranting about people in the street not speaking English when he was off the ship. There is a certain level of xenophobia we need to address in the United States, I'm afraid.] The first three nights there were no escargots, and when my wife ordered a bottle of wine, the first three choices she made were not available. This was at the beginning of the cruise, and it seems reasonable to me that the cellars and larders and pantries would be fully stocked, then especially. By the middle of the cruise Bush Mills Irish Whiskey had run out. The meals, were for the most part very nicely done, I got extra vegetables when I asked for them, and the food was delicious. When the escargots finally were put on the menu, they too were delicious and I had them probably 8 times. The desserts were beautiful, but I usually ordered fruit. My tablemates complained, however that the crème brulee was soggy and the chocolate desserts weren't very chocolate-y. The best desserts were available at tea in the Cova Cafe on Deck 5. The pastries there were wonderful, much better than at dinner. I did not gain any weight while on board.
Activities abounded, but they were not particularly well attended from what I could tell. The first trivia game had a group that had been on the ship earlier, and they knew all the answers, effectively shutting everyone else out. After that, few people seemed to attend. The bingo (which I played in 4th grade and only on a couple of other cruises) seemed flat, and the only audience participation was to boo those who had one square left. There was none of the singing, groaning, etc. that usually accompanies on-board bingo. The point, I think, is that in many ways the staff did not engage the passengers. On a sea day when I asked the guest relations desk if there was a place I could paint (watercolors) without being too public, they gave me the Board Room. It was a great place to work and pretty much out of public view. It was very gracious of them to allow me to use the room Shipboard sales were a problem because they did not seem well planned. When the two-hour sale of Cape Horn tee shirts took place on deck 10, it was again the same bedlam we saw at the pier boarding. The tables were set up in a confined space and suddenly there were people three and four deep. It was like the day after Thanksgiving at Wal-Mart. The staff even threatened to call security. The shoppers were out of control. I have been on cruises where similar sales were handled much better - and in less confined spaces so everyone had a chance to buy.
Entertainment: The Celebrity singers and dancers put on terrific shows and the stage is a hydraulic marvel. There was a heavy bias toward Andrew Lloyd-Weber, but that's all right. There was also a wonderful concert pianist, Avner Arad, who played twice and did encores, and a flautist who was a great show-woman. A juggling act was a hoot, and a musical impersonator was terrific. Excursions: We took only a couple, the wild life-nature ones. Seeing penguins at Puerto Madryn in the hot dry desert next to the Atlantic was amazing. The rookery has thousands and they were very unafraid. Some tourists insisted on petting them despite warnings not to. I also took a catamaran from Ushuaia to see cormorants, sea lions, petrels and albatrosses. Sea life was wonderful and fascinating. The weather was fantastic, literally. It went from blinding horizontal snow, to sleet, rain, fog, bright sun and back again a couple times during the two - three hour excursion. I loved it.
Ports of call: Were fascinating, and we were able to pick up tours that were far less expensive than the ones offered by the cruise. They turned out to be essentially the same as the Celebrity ones, but if they had been late, we would have been liable to get to the ship, not Celebrity. Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, was very interesting and the people were friendly. Ushuaia was beautiful. Puerto Montt and the lake district was also fascinating. Part of it looked like New Mexico and part like the Swiss Alps.
Summary: Would I take this trip again? Probably. I would love to spend more time in Buenos Aires and Santiago. The wildlife. Would I take Celebrity? Maybe. There was no on-board laundry and the staff wasn't particularly engaging when it came to interactive at entertainment. The waiters and servers were wonderful, however, and EVERY staff member spoke every time s/he encountered us. I felt tipped to death. It seemed that every time I turned around there was another charge or tip required.