We are a couple in our 60's. We went on this long planned cruise to Antartica so I could complete one of my bucket list items even after having endured major back surgery a few months ago. We were apprehensive because of some of the negative reviews of the Infinity but although I tend to look for things to complain about, I couldn't find anything!!!! All I can say is WOW!!!! The service was par excellent, the food was par excellent.
We departed from Atlanta on a non-stop to Buenos Aires 2 days early and thank goodness we did because we missed the snow storm the next day that shut the Atlanta airport. Many passengers missed the cruise and many others had to divert, take several more flights etc to reach BA in time for the cruise on Sunday. We stayed at the Hilton for free courtesy of Hilton Honors points. We used Manuel Tiendes car service to get from the airport to the hotel-- it cost $55US for a private car or $40 for a van-- we opted for the private car and were promptly whisked to the hotel. We took a cab to the pier and it was less than $10 US. You don't need pesos== everyone takes $$US.
During embarkation in Buenos Aires there was some initial confusion about where to drop luggage. We arrived at 12:30, got to the line at about 12:45 to check in but for some reason, the agent told us "to be back by 4:30". I was exhausted and panicked thinking we had to wait 4 hours to embark but luckily my DH said-- "can we get on the ship now?" and she said "of course" so I'm not sure why she told us to come back at 4:30 when we just wanted to board. In Buenos Aires the ship docks at an industrial pier so the arrival terminal is several blocks from the pier so you first have to take the free shuttle bus to the pier to get on the ship.We were greeted on the ship by champagne and the photographer and directed to the 10th floor buffet. Cabins were available by 1:30. The attendant immediately greeted us and my husband requested 2 copies of the daily activities letter which we always got and our luggage arrived by 2:30.
This was a very international sailing and there were passengers from all over the world. Announcements were made in 5 languages. There were some culture clashes but in general, everyone got along.
There was no smoking allowed anywhere except a few designated places on deck. Even the casino is smoke free!!! Hallelujah!!!!
We elected for main dining and a table for 8. We had a fabulous table on the upper level on deck 5 right by the rear window and were treated to beautiful sunsets.@ people never showed so we only had 6. Our tablemates were 2 wonderful coulples from the UK traveling together. The food was so good and varied, we never went to the specialy restaurant.If you wanted to make changes to the menu items, it was greeted with approval; if you didn't like something, it was quickly switched for something else. Double desserts were cheerfully brought and the waiters showed us the desserts in advance so we could pick by seeing them not just reading the menu. One of our tablemates was lactose intolerant and every evening the maitre d came to show her the next days menu and plan her meanls.!! This is the first time on 16 cruises that the waiter actually asked our name on the first night and called us by name thereafter. The Asst waiter remembered my request for ice tea and it was waiting for us each night.The Sommolier was funny and attentive but never pushy.You could buy wine by the glass as well as a bottle. We never felt pushed to buy anything.
The crew, including the Captain, circulated among the guests everyday and always stopped to say hello and smiled to everyone. The waiters in the buffet promptly cleared tables and helped you if you needed assistance. Our normal dining room waiter recognized us and helped us find a table when we couldn't. The guest relations staff was attentive and solved all our questions; In the middle of the cruise, my back gave out and I needed a wheelchair which was promptly delivered. It was for my personal use for the duration and was free. The ship's staff helped us maneuver through the dining room and to get off/on the gangways and tenders. The Cruise Director Allan King was outstanding.
There were 2 renowned naturalists on board to give lectures about Antartica, the expeditions, glaciers, animals etc. They were phenomenal and kept us alerted as we sailed through antartica when they spotted whales,sea lions etc.
You could purchase shore excusions either before departing or on the shio either over the interactive TV menu or in person. EXcellent descriptions were given and expliciit warnings about dusty buses, bumpy roads, lack of facilities etc. Despite the warnings, we heard many passengers grumbling about the very conditions they were warned about!!! the shore excursion staff refunded a ticket I was unable to use for the last port because of my back even though the policy said no refunds on the day of the excursion and we were very appreciative.
Our tablemates from the UK did not receive some onboard credit from their travel agent and Guest Relations gladly called their TA in London 2X for them to get it straightened out. This was while were sailing in Antartica!!!
Celebrity was much better organized than RCCL and actually knew the ports even though they only visit them 2X a year. Disembarkation/embarkation both at the start, end and during port visits were well organized and efficient. Celebrity has a guest/crew ratio of 2:1 vs 3:1 for RCCL and it really made a difference but the attitude of the staff was just so different on Celebrity. The staff made it clear they were there to help, serve and assist and keep us happy. I can't say that about RCCL of late.
The scenery was magnificent and the weather cooperated and we were able to make all our destinations which the sailing prior to ours could not.
OK- here are some less enthusiastic comments--- the balcony cabin we had was really far forward and was the smallest we ever had. Celebrity did not make the clever use of space that RCCL does of every nook and cranny. Shelf space was limited although the closet was adequate. The bed was too low so our large suticase could not fit underneath and had to take up precious space in the cabin. The TV was old and because of the remoteness of our locations, we had to listen to the same loop of taped programs and movies over and over. We thought we would go crazy if we had to watch the same episode of 2 1/1 men one more time!!! It would help if they could at least add new tapes and rotate them better, The hair dryer is build into the bathroom wall which is a nuisance for women like me that like to style their hair in front of the desk mirror;the balcony could only hold 2 chairs and a small table and was smaller than most; because of the remoteness and distance between ports, the entertainment was lacking-- the ship's performers were excellent and 1 professional musician-- the others were bland and disappointing. This was a 14 night cruise and we were at sea 10 nights-- there were not enough activities to do and you had to find your own fun. Because we were in the south atlantic, it was called so the outdoor pool was closed and it was too cold to sit outside so everyone was relegated to finding fun indoors.Most of the seminars other than the 2 naturalists on board for nature talks about antartica were just veiled sales pitches and not really informative. After buying 2 photos and spending $23 on the internet, specials were offered the last day that would have saved us a lot money especially for the photos which we could have waited to buy. The carpeting could use some shampooing but otherwise, the ship was well maintained.
The buffet was still the old style cafeteria line and it was divided into 2 sections and each section had some different foods so you had to go all around the room to find what you wanted and then wait on line while people got what they wanted. RCCL, HAL have the newer style "pods" or stations where there a 6 or more round stations in the middle each having the same selections. Also guests tended to hoard the tables and just sit and watch the scenery so it was often difficult to find a table. The daily activities letter politely asked guests not to do this but---------
my daughter ordered a valentine's package for us of champagne, chocolates and flowers which we never got despite my daughter being told it was delivered. She did get a refund when we told her we never received it.
I rate this as our best cruise ever and highly recommend both Celebrity and the Infinity. She is a great ship.