Celebrity Infinity, a good place for friends to get together
C,.My Friend, Carol and I are now over 55, but have been friends since the age of 3 and 4. Carol lost her husband this past year, and wanted to go on a cruise with a group of friends from a group she belongs to, but had no one to share a cabin with, so asked me to go with her, my husband encouraged me to go, so I did.
We boarded the ship in Seattle around 1:00pm. We were able to go to our room as soon as we were aboard. We found our room, an outside on plaza deck, to be an excellent location, only a few feet away from the main offices, and the grand staircase. The room was clean, and had lots of storage room for our suitcases, with enough room under the bed to stow them after unpacking. We went up to the buffet for Lunch. The Cruise Critics group had decided ahead of time to meet at the Aft bar for sail-a-way, after checking out the ship a little, we headed for the aft bar. We sailed out of Seattle while meeting some of the people that had been posting on the CC boards. We headed down to our cabin to get ready for dinner.
Our dining reservations were for a table for 8, another couple of girls I had been talking to by email, but had never met had arranged to be at our table also. One other couple, a man and his wife were seated at the table, we ordered what we wanted for that meal. Our waiter, Jesus Henrique, from Cartegena, Colombia, was very personable and efficient. The dinner was ordered, I ordered the lobster bisque, it was not especially good, I had had fabulous lobster bisque in Las Vegas, and was expecting the same, it wasn't.
After dinner we went to the theatre for the show, It was the shipboard singers and dancers, it was a pretty good show, we enjoyed it. After the show we went to the casino to check it out. Lots of noise in the casino, the casino slots were old, and boring, and did not pay off very well, in fact why I bothered to play them is still a question I ask myself! We decided to turn in and went to our cabin. I had a problem sleeping the first night, my bed seemed "lumpy" to me.We left the curtains open so we could enjoy the water views and fell asleep.
The next day was a sea day,and the Cruise Critic Party, that Celebrity gives was at 10:15 in the morning!! The CC group had asked for it to be in the afternoon. A lot of the people did not receive their invitations, the ship did not have the name tags for the party available, we supplied our own, knowing that they may not have them,however on of the CC people had talked with someone on board ahead of time, and the person she talked to offered to print out the names on our supplied stickers. there was no microphone available, and it was hard to "connect" at the connections party. some thought it not a very good experience. Dinner, that night found us once again only 6 at our table for 8. I ordered the french onion soup, it was delicious! and was the only soup I ordered from that night on.
Our first port was San Diego. We had decided to go on the hop-on, hop-off trolley. I had bought our tickets for the "San Diego trolley tour",on line,one could buy them on shore, or from the ship. ordering on line saved us about $10.00. We got off the ship around 8am, and walked out the pier where we found the trolley kiosk. There were 4 of us in our group, the others purchased their tickets and we boarded the trolley, we rode through the town, having lived there many years ago, there was not much that I recognized, except the plaza where the cinema is, and the Greyhound bus station, other than that, SD had grown so much it was unrecognizable. We went over the Coronado bridge to the Del Coronado Hotel. At the hotel we had a drink on their verandah and took some pictures. We walked around the hotel grounds, and into the hotel lobby. We walked a block or two back to the trolley stop and waited just a few minutes for the trolley. We boarded the trolley and continued on our tour, the next stop we opted for was "Old Town". We enjoyed seeing the city as we passed by, the trolley driver gave some information over a speaker as we drove. Old Town was very commercialized. We were ready for lunch so we decided to eat in Old Town at a Mexican restaurant, thinking it would be authentic. Carol and I ordered tortilla soup, the other two ladies split a lunch. The tortilla soup was not good, it tasted as if it were made with tomatoe soup, and I don't know if there was any chicken in it or not, very few tortillas, and a couple of avocado pieces, I wouldn't eat there again! We looked around the town a little, peeking into windows of "old" buildings to see what the people of that era lived like. We went to the trolley stop and boarded the trolley for the ride back to the ship. We went through Balboa Park, past many museum buildings, past the Italian part of SD, and back to the ship. We had a good time on the trolley and feel that we got to see a lot of the city in only a few hours.
The next day was a sea day, as we headed for Cabo San Lucas. We were very disappointed when we got to Cabo, we were told to go to the theatre where we would get a number for disembarking the ship. We ate breakfast and knowing that the tours would go first, we didn't hurry. We got to the theatre around 10:30 and received our number, 33. Numbers 6 and 7 were called, we sat and waited. At around 1:00 there was a call for anyone else going on a tour to come to the front, they left. I, being a diabetic had to get something to eat, so I hurried down to the "healthy" restaurant by the indoor pool and picked me up a banana and a piece of brown roll, and went back to the theatre, just in time to hear that there would be no more allowed to go ashore, because of the deteriorating weather! We went down to deck 1 where the tenders were taking people to and from shore, and encountered the hotel director Leonie, who informed us that we could not go ashore, the Captain had made the decision to not let any more go ashore, because the water was too rough. I mentioned that I was a cruise critic member, and she asked for my cabin number, which I gave her.The next day we had an invitation to the bridge to tour and meet the captain. We accepted the invitation and the next am we went to tour the bridge, the captain asked to talk to me personally, and explained why we were not able to go to Cabo San Lucas. He said the seas were very rough, and by the time we were to go ashore, he had the problem of getting the 1000 passengers that had gone ashore back to the ship. We were all very disappointed, Carol and some of the others had wanted to go to Diamond International and get their free charm bracelet to start their charm collection. Leonie invited us to the Rendezvous Lounge for a drink before dinner that night. Carol explained to her about wanting to get her bracelet, and Leonie made a few calls, and someone came up to the lounge and had 2 bracelets in hand. We were very pleased to get the bracelets. The hotel director, Leonie went out of her way, to make us happy, she really went above and beyond what we would have expected, because of her, we were treated royally, and felt that we WERE the star of Celebrity.
The best meal in the dining room was the beef wellington!! The lobster dinner would ve been better if they had just served it plain with drawn butter!! I ordered a sugar-free dessert each evening, they were delicious!! I ordered broccoli many nights, and it was always fresh and cooked to just the right doneness.
During the cruise there were 2 brunches, these were very nice and had a lot to choose from. There were 2 afternoon teas, with finger sandwiches and scones, I ordered coffee instead of tea. There were 3 formal nights, and the last formal night was my birthday, where we had a Baked Alaska parade with all the waiters carrying baked alaskas with candles on them, always one of my favorite nights. Celebrity gave our Cruise Critics group another "connections" party, with a microphone! The second party was much better than the first, it was at 5 in the afternoon, and we were able to say what our posting names were, and what we liked about being on the cruise critic boards. Many of us voiced how much richer our cruise experience was because of the boards and the friends we came to know even before we met in person.
We went to Acapulco, Mexico and there were 7 in our party. We went out on the pier and just hired a van for $10.00 an hour per person. we hired for 2 hours and told them where we wanted to go. We went to the Chapel of Peace, the cliff divers, and the hotel where Tarzan and John Wayne used to go. there were beautiful view from the hotel. In Hualtulco,Mexico, we just walked around and looked at the shops, toured a church, walked through the plaza, and lastly swam in the ocean at the beautiful beach just off the pier where the ship was moored.
In Puntarenas, Costa Rica, we had a really nice tour, put together by one of the CC girls, with Okey dokey tours, our guide was Charlie Soto. This tour was VERY exciting and we were very pleased with the variety that we had on this tour, we fed monkeys, went on a river and saw crocodiles, went up to the high country, went to Jaco Beach and swam in the ocean, had lunch in a streetside restaurant. saw a lot of the country as were were driven around in a very comfortable air conditioned bus.
In the Canal, Carol and I went on a Celebrity tour of Panama City. The tickets said the bus was not air conditioned, but it was. We tendered to a port and boarded a nice large bus. the ride to Panama City was about 45 minutes, we saw a lot of the countryside. Our first stop was at Mira Flora Locks, we were able to see container ships go through the locks, and the way the locks worked. then we went to a place that we were able to do some shopping for souvenirs, after shopping we boarded 2 smaller busses, because the large busses were to big for the narrow streets of the french quarters of Panama. We went through the poorest and roughest part of the french quarters and then we went to a square where we disembarked the bus and walked a ways past a part of the city that had a seawall, we walked and took pictures, we were able to see Panama City, the new Panama from this vantagepoint. after walking for a little bit, we boarded the small busses again and went to a place where we were to meet the big bus again. We had soft drinks and a sandwich served, and then boarded the bus for the ship. We rode quite a while and it seemed we were going back the way we came, we went by the New Panama City and onto a "freeway" type of rode. We ended up on a pier and the ship was there waiting for us, we were the last tour to arrive at the ship, the shops on the pier were closed, and we boarded the ship too late for our dinner, but the buffet was still open to us. It was an interesting tour, and a long day.
The next 2 days were sea days, there is lots to do on board on sea days, we went to a water coloring class, a dance class, a family feud game, a couple of teas, and spent a lot of time in the pools. The indoor thalassotherapy pool is a wonderful pool, very warm, and there is a "healthy" buffet in this area. the outdoor pools are a lot of fun when the ship is underway, especially the lap pool! It was difficult to find a lounge around the pools, mostly because people would put their books and towels and stuff on them and sometimes not use them most of the day, they were just saving them, just in case? The restaurant on the pool deck had hamburgers, hot dogs, and natchos, yummy!
Our last stop was in Cartegena, Columbia. We had another tour set up by a Cruise Critic person. The tour guide was waiting for us on the pier, and we all gathered there to board the air conditioned bus. We felt very safe with Dora as our guide, she had a microphone to speak through so we could all hear her, it was very professional. We went to the highest point in Cartegena, La poppa. we toured a church, we went into the old city, and the dungeons, for shopping. we went through the walled city, it was pretty with lots of flowers hanging from french-like balconys. We drove around the city, we saw both the old and the new. We stopped in the new city to shop for emeralds, which were very expensive, we went around the corner from the store the guide wanted us to shop in and found a good place for a coffee frappe, and it was only $2.00! Carol and I stepped into a little shop called Mr Emerald, and we ended up buying a little gold colored coffee bean with a tiny emerald for $20.00 for our charm bracelets, we left that little shop very happy with our purchase.
We arrived the next day in Ft Lauderdale, where we were to disembartk around 8 oclock, and go to the everglades. We had signed up for valet service so after putting our luggage out the night before, we didn't have to do anything with our luggage until we got to our final destination. We FINALLY got off the ship around 10 o'clock, got on our bus for the everglades, were rushed through that tour and off to the airport for our flight at 2:55. We arrived back in Seattle at 8:50 and waited for our luggage, we waited a long time for Carol's suitcase, it never came, she checked with the airlines and was told that they would send it to her when they find it. My husband picked us up and we headed home. We dropped Carol off at her house and headed for the Kingston Ferry. We were extremely lucky to get to the ferry landing just as the ferry was about to leave, we had 5 minutes, we made it!!! The next day I got a call at 8:30 in the morning from RCCL that Carols luggage had not left the ship and would be sent to us. As of this date, friday, we have not recieved the luggage. I expect it will show up someday soon. All in all, I believe that this was a cruise made more exciting because of my joining Cruise Critics, and after the cruise, the boards go on. Linda