We are 60 year old boomers on their second cruise. First was with Carnival which we did not enjoy at all, but were encouraged by several people to try again with a more high scale line. I chose Celebrity Infinity 14-day Panama Canal cruise for Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego (where we live).
We had a balcony stateroom on Carnival, but decided to save money by getting an inside guarantee on the Infinity. Worked out well as we were upgraded significantly to deck 8. The only real complaint I had about the inside was that I never could tell what time of day it was or what the weather was like. I also did not appreciate the Celebrity "class" system of Concierge balcony staterooms that we were right in the middle of made us feel like we were sailing steerage.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale a few days early and stayed at a little boutique hotel called the Tropi Rock. Would not recommend this hotel as it is really off the beaten path as far as where shops and restaurants are.
Will try to take you through day-by-day itinerary for this 14-day cruise as follows:
Day One, Sunday: Embarkation was a nightmare. Rumors had it that they couldn't get a passenger off the ship or the food was late of some other excuse. Bottom line is that it took us 2 1/2 hours to board and we had to go through line after line. Once aboard we took some time to familiarize ourselves with the ship layout. Infinity only has one dining room and although we did not get the table configuration we had initially asked for the assistant maitre'd worked it out for us and we were happy. We had late seating and wish we had gone for main as service was good but slow and we often did not finish dinner until 10:30 pm.
Day Two, Monday: Sea day. Weather was really bad rainy and cloudy so laying in the sun was out of the question. We took advantage of the really good activities: water color classes, lectures on various subject including the Panama Canal, trivia games and a great two-story library that was always open. The Emporium area had several fun shops with reasonable prices.
Day Three, Tuesday: Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We were tendered and staff did a good job of disembarking passenger in a timely way. We took a ship excursion called Land and Sea where we visited the Turtle Farm, took the semi submersible Nautilus submarine, and visited a rum factory. This tour was pretty good and probably worth the money just for the submarine. Day Four, Wednesday: At sea doing similar activities as Monday since it was still cloudy and rainy.
Day Five, Thursday: Docked in Cartegena, Columbia. Did the Old Town on our town by catching a taxi with another couple for $15 for all four of us. The weather was still cloudy and it started raining while we were still in town. Be careful here of taxi drivers: we had one take us back to the pier who first said $10 for both of us took us 45 minutes to get to the pier (a 15 minute drive) and then tried to charge us $20. We refused to pay that much and he did accept the $10 but it got a little scary. Back on board we shopped the Emporium shops for some very good deals in t-shirts and did some Beatles trivia.
Day Six, Friday: Cruised the Panama Canal all day. We were pretty well educated about it since we had attended informational talks and seen a movie about the history of the canal. I found that after a while I got bored but others were fascinated from beginning to end. Good vantage points were on Deck 12 Forward or Aft(even better).
Day Seven, Saturday: Sea Day with same types of activities which kept us very busy and not at all bored. Weather still a bit iffy which was depressing since we wanted some sun.
Day Eight, Sunday: Docked at Puntarenas , Costa Rica. Did a very nice Ship excursion, Train, Boat and Train Adventure. The train was 100 years old and took us right into the rain forest. The boat was on the river where we saw several different kinds of birds and crocodiles up close. The ship excursions are pricey but the ease of knowing what you are doing that day ahead of time might make up for the cost.
Day Nine, Monday: Sea Day with more of the same activities except that we finally got some sun and were able to lay around the pool and roast. Lots of burned faces at dinner that night.
Day Ten, Tuesday: Docked at Huatulco (Wa-Tulco), Mexico. This is an unexpectedly beautiful little bay and town that many thought was one of the nicest ports ever. We took a cab ($5 for two) into the little town of Crucecita for some shopping and sightseeing. The population has committed to not overbuidling the beach area with high rise hotels and condos and the view from the ship is quite beautiful.
Day Eleven, Wednesday: Tendered at Acapulco, Mexico. We did the ship excursion, Acapulco by Caravan which was a nightmare. There were ten nice Wrangler jeeps driven by passenger and we thought we were going to caravan off the beaten path. Instead we spent almost 2 hours going through the bumper to bumper traffic of main Acapulco. DO NOT DO THIS TOUR it is not a good one. I complained and asked for my money back, but the tour operator lied about the activities. In spite of this Celebrity did give me a 25% refund which was at least a token gesture.
Day Twelve, Thursday: At Sea business as usual. Weather was great.
Day Thirteen, Friday: Tendered at Cabo San Lucas. We had not been here in years and could not believe how it had changed. Very tourist centered far cry from the sleepy little fishing village of 20 years ago. Anyway, my husband really wanted to see the Hotel California of Eagles fame in the little town of Todos Santos about 45 minutes north of Cabo. This was a nice excursion where we were given a very nice lunch at the Hotel California and visited a museum, church and had time to shop some nice shops. This little village is much like Cabo was many years ago. Did not get back to the ship until almost 3:00 so had very little time for shopping in Cabo itself. Since we are from San Diego and go to northern Baja quite often this wasn't really a problem. Halloween Night festivities were fun onboard.
Day Fourteen, Saturday: Our last Sea Day but unfortunately I got a bad cold and was a little seasick, so spent most of the day in bed.
Day Fifteen, Saturday: San Diego. Disembarkation was not real smooth due to some issues with customs according to ship personnel. We were scheduled to disembark at 9:30 but did not actually get off the ship until 10:30. Good to be back in San Diego.
In summary: the Infinity is a very nice ship but doesn't seem to very stable. I felt movement constantly although I did not get seasick until the last day. It definitely needs a facelift still has the original carpet etc from 2001.
Staterooms: Inside cabins are on the small side but nicely appointed. Regular balcony and ocean view cabins are a bit bigger. Concierge balcony cabins are pretty spacious and these passengers get a lot of special treatment: afternoon snacks, fruit bowls. They also have a different color card just to make the rest of us feel bad :) I was very uncomfortable with this "Class System" especially since our little inside cabin was right in the middle of the Concierge cabins.
Food: Generally good but not excellent. We did enjoy the AquaSpa Cafe that serves light food for breakfast and lunch. We were regulars there and the staff treated us like old friends. The Cova Cafe is another great place. Although you have to pay for specialty coffees here, the pastries are free and very good. The Cova served goodies in the morning, late afternoon and after the shows in the evening. We also went for sushi every afternoon (to tide us over until dinner) in the Ocean View Buffet. We did not try the alternative restaurant, Ocean View Grill although I would have liked to as I liked their menu better than the Trellis menu most of the time. It is free but a $2 per person gratuity is suggested. Did not do the United States Restaurant it is $30 per person and most people I talked to said it was good but not outstanding. The special occasion festivities like the brunch, tea etc, were only fair. Most desserts were not to die for, but main courses were pretty tasty.
Activities: A good variety of activities for everyone. Lots of trivia games, ship building, water color, floral demos, jewelry class, lectures, movies, art auctions and seminars and of course, the casino.
Shore Excursions: Decent but not really worth the money. Definitely convenient and I'm not sorry we did them but if we cruise again we might look at trying to do it on our own a bit more and save some money.
Staff: very friendly and helpful. Unlike Carnival, when you had a concern they actually did something about it. On Carnival, the guest relations desk had a 20-30 minute passenger line every night there was never more the one or two people in line on Infinity. Simply not a whole lot of problems.
I found the dining room service to be a little slow but our waiter and assistant waiter were very nice. Captain Demetrius was very personable and did a 12 noon chat with us everyday. He was the star of the Captain's Picnic poolside and spent a good deal of time talking with passengers and taking pictures with us. I am also Greek and we spent some time talking about where our relatives were from very nice and attractive.
Entertainment: For a 14 day cruise they did the best they could. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were just OK for the first two shows but did an outstanding last show. Two comedians, pianist, violinist, and singer were very good. Passenger talent show and battle of the sexes just so so and one night they only showed a movie.
Emporium: A lot of nice shops with a variety of merchandise at reasonable prices. Had some great sales on jewelry, watches, tshirts. Some high end jewelry shops that were fun to look at for us poor folk. I actually was the only passenger to volunteer for a jewelry fashion show and got to wear about $50K worth of tanzanite jewelry. I also took advantage of the free make over in the cosmetic shop which carries several known lines of cosmetics at good prices and duty free.
Special places on the ship: The 2 story library is really great to sit and relax and read a good book. A cozy little spot just off the midship elevators and the guest relations desk on port side is a good place to kick back, read or just watch the ocean go by. The AquaSpa Cafe area is nice place to have lunch with a view. The aft deck off the Ocean Grill Buffet was a nice place to gather on a good day.
All in all this was a very nice cruise although we are not quite sure if we are really cruisers. The limited time at each port was frustrating and not the way we usually travel. However, if we do cruise again, Celebrity Cruise line would definitely be one we would consider.