Once we were on board we would have a wonderful time.
Initial Embarkation - basically painless. They did take my credit card info at the beginning of the trip, but due to terminal malfunctions at the check-in, they required me to go and give them my information again during the middle of the cruise. Tip: every single person is required to have a cc backing their sea pass card, so hang on to your children's passes tightly.
The Food - SOOOOOO much to choose from. That really doesn't even describe it, but there is something for everyone at the buffet on deck 10. Even my husband and picky children found a way to fill about 3 plates full of delectable choices each time we went. - Fine Dining at the Trellis Restaurant on Deck 4 (and 5): This is the part I really enjoyed because it was a chance to try foods that I've seen prepared often on shows on the Food Network (and Hell's Kitchen, if I'm being honest lol) and would probably never have had the opportunity to experience. I came away having finally tried Beef Wellington, bravely shared a plate of frogs legs (they DO taste just like chicken!) and escargot (surprisingly yummers!) and I believe our table will be forever known as "the ones who ordered 2 entrees each and then finished by trying every dessert...twice". We enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. Do yourself a favor and look at the menu before you go. They will post it outside the elevators on decks 4 & 5 sometime prior to your main dining meal. For the first couple of days I panic ordered because they are so efficient they take your orders right away and I had only made it down through the chef choice selection and appetizers and soups and salads selections. Looking at the menu helped me know what to expect and what to order BEFORE sitting down. Everyone was on their very best behavior dress code wise for the first few days, but after the first formal night, we began seeing some jeans and tshirts at dinner. We were worried about the strictness of the dress code when we packed, so we OVERpacked, but now that we know better, we will probably forego the sport coat next time for my husband. We were told by Celebrity (on the phone prior to leaving) that he would have to wear his coat through dinner. Not the case. Some people didn't even show up with coats at all...or ties. The funny part to this is that in the elevators you would find fully decked out sequined ladies standing next to someone that just got out of the pool and was currently wearing a bathrobe. :) We chose not to partake of the S.S. United States, which is the specialty dining room on board the Infinity, so I cannot speak to the types of food they had there.
Because of the room service hours (til 11 p.m.) we tended to order food to the room prior to going to dinner so that we would have a little snack after we were done seeing the shows or hanging out and having a drink. We realized one night at 1 a.m. that we were starving. Ordering some pizza and fruit and yogurt to have later is a smart idea.
Rooms - We had an inside stateroom, so we definitely expected it to be small, but I suppose not much can prepare you for a tiny room with no windows unless you have had to live in your minivan and had all the windows painted black. HOWEVER...I can tend to get claustrophobic and they did a really decent job of trying to make the best of the space. There was surprisingly a huge amount of storage in every nook and cranny. The difficult part was having our son in the fold out couch bed because it blocked our way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Some of our family had a balcony room and we would probably go for that next time if we could. Our room attendant was very attentive and because I am not used to people waiting on me, I felt awkward asking for things at first, so he had to continue approaching me and ask if I needed anything. I think we finally bonded when I came down to the room during dinner to get something and I had a blister on my foot. I asked for a bandaid and he pulled one out of his own wallet. I had run out of bandaids on a previous night's shoe fiasco. (another tip - just wear the same shoes, that way your bandaids will be in the right place already).
Entertainment - There was way too much to choose from and we didn't get to do everything we wanted because there were so many enjoyable activities planned at the same time or overlapping each other.
The Nature Lecturer Brent Nixon... O.M.G. I read so many reviews on how entertaining he was and how interesting his lectures were, but in my mind LECTURE=BORING so I figured it couldn't be THAT interesting. Holy crud I was so wrong and have been converted! We were disappointed that we missed one of the lectures because we were so tired and just completely let it blow by.
Celebrity Dancers & Singers - we saw the Best of Broadway show and the Let's Rock and Roll. Broadway was our favorite because we are musical and theater people and it was great. They did a few numbers each from Les Mis, Phantom, & West Side...they did one number each from 42nd street and A Chorus Line. We wanted more from those 2 shows, but understood time was the factor. We enjoyed the Rock & Roll one, but it was just good toe tapping fun, not an edge of the seat show like the Broadway one.
Karaoke...just want to apologize to those on board with me that had to hear me sing. I was supposed to sing with my friend, but she threw me under the bus because she thought I needed to stop being so shy LOL. SHE is the singer so I tend to hide behind her. But very happy there WAS karaoke because it was something we had been wanting to do for awhile.
Constellation Club - we didn't go to many dance parties, but they had them in spades! We attended a wonderful dessert buffet one night that they had there and had some very potent chocolate martinis. Fun atmosphere!
Misc - Bingo was fun, we played one paid game, and one free game. We won nothing LOL. But it was fun to BOO people when they would come close to having bingo. We played Harry Potter Scene It (and WON - go team Mischief Managed!) in the Rendevouz Lounge and though it was slightly disorganized at first, we had a blast.
Shopping & Stuff: - They have a Coach store, the only one at sea... I don't think I need say more if you are a Coach fan lol
- when they say "unveiling" on the schedule for jewelry, it doesn't really mean they are going to show you some collection of rare items, which is what we thought, they are really just putting things out for sale in a pretty way. Gets crowded - the only reason to go to these is to enter the drawings. One of our party won a Larimar necklace!
- photos - my biggest tip, do not knee-jerk purchase your photos when you see them. Leave them on the wall (they will rearrange them often to new walls, so probably shouldn't bother with putting them in a certain spot to remind yourself where they are). There are 2 days where they have specials of buy 2 photos get 1 free or BOGO - wait for those days and purchase your photos.
- Sundries - small selection, but it is INSIDE the liquor shop. We were told it was next to the liquor store and we couldn't find it til we asked someone.
- Casino - my husband left a deposit here, but we did watch a woman win quite a bit. Just all in fun :) Wish we could have won big, but that's why they call it gambling!
- HUBBARD GLACIER: Nothing will prepare you for this magnificent piece of nature. We had seen jewelry called 'glacier ice' in Ketchikan, but we just gasped to see that that color blue truly existed in nature. It is a sight to behold. I was standing at the front most part of deck 11 on the railing and got some beautiful shots...however if you don't want to freeze, you will see just as amazing a view from a chair or further back on the railing. I couldn't feel my face for awhile, but I was stuck there because of the crowd of people taking pics and enjoying the view. Recommend the hot chocolate lol.
- Children: they have a small video arcade & the fun factory is great. It allowed us to have some grown up time and let the kids have fun. Surprisingly our children were mostly with us and only used the Fun Factory about 3 times (because they asked, not because we wanted them to go lol) for a couple hours each time.
Overall: We were made to feel like we were special despite having the smaller rooms and not being the big spenders at art auctions or anything - it was a beautiful and wonderful experience. There were a few snags in communication regarding customs paperwork and some other things, but we worked them out eventually. 99% of the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful and we hope to see them again on our next cruise.
After seeing Hubbard Glacier, Mendenhall Glacier sort of paled because we weren't as close (walking on the glacier tour would have taken care of that), but it was still a beautiful sight to see. At this nature reserve we were also really lucky to see a baby bear sleeping in a tree and my brother-in-law got a photo of the momma bear a little way down the path. We also saw a porcupine in another tree.
The whale quest was pretty awesome...although it did remind me why I wanted a much bigger camera lens before we left. Through binoculars (which were provided on our tour, but most people had their own) we saw 2 sets of mom & calf traveling together and a few more whales flipped us the fluke later in the tour. It was amazing being part of their world for a little while.
This port offered more shopping for us ladies and the Red Dog Saloon for my husband and brother-in-law. I think we all walked away pretty darn happy :)
We walked and took some photos before getting showered on. We all had packed the night before this stop and because it was forecast as clear skies, we all felt confident enough to leave our umbrellas and windbreakers, etc. on board. Boy were we ever sorry we did that! We dumped the boys off at yet another bar lol and walked around. We didn't have anything planned for this port of call except to take photos, but the rain kind of ruined that, so we stopped off at Rogers and had some tea, ice cream and coffee and did a little last minute shopping.
We were going to take a shuttle back, but it was 6 bucks a person (x 10 people), so we stuffed ourselves into 2 cabs and for about 9 bucks each cab.
We were not going to attend dinner as all of our clothing was packed (and we had put our bags out before getting off the ship at Victoria, so ours were gone), but we called Trellis and they said they often turn a blind eye the last night because of just this situation. We had a delicious dinner in the formal dining room after 6 p.m. in jeans and sneakers.