Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by Herb44: Cruise of a Lifetime!
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Cruise of a Lifetime!
Destination: South America
Embarkation: Buenos Aires
We left Rockville after a series of blizzards, hopeful that our non-stop plane from Dulles to Buenos Aires could also depart. It did, on time. Thus, we left town with the temperatures in the low 20's and blowing snow to arrive the next morning in 80 degree temperature and beautiful sun. Stayed at the Marriott: lovely centrally located hotel.
[This was our fifth cruise in a bit more than a year: Western Med (NCL); circum Britain (NCL); Norwegian North Cape & Fjords (NCL); Eastern Med (Celebrity). It was by far our happiest cruise and a ship made for cruising in colder weather. his means that there is lots of room for breakfest in an enclosed space. Also, the trip still has trays! That means that you can sit down to eat with all of your food at one time and the food is still hot when you sit.! WOW!!]
Walking was fine, but be careful of the 'mustard bandits.' While you are walking, they spray you with a foul, yellow substance. They then claim it was from birds, More and try to help you clean up. In the process they then try to pick your pockets. (We were warned of them, but we were still targeted & sprayed.) If this happens, just be loud, and keep them away from your body. This was successful for us, and foul goo did wash out.
Ship is large, but 'right size' for amenities and 'comfort level.' We never got used to the hugeness of the Equinox or its poor design. Infinity has drawers for clothes than are easily accessible; Equinox only has shelf space located above the bed. Equinox lacks trays in the buffet. Formal nights on Equinox are more intrusive, though the Equinox also has the the Asian fusion restaurant that provided the finest dining experience we've experienced at sea.
We stayed in the concierge class on the Infinity (and Aqua Class on the Equinox) neither are worth the extra cost. We didn't experience any meaningful amenities, other than priority boarding. (We converted the champagne to white wine, the shared it with our tablemates. The canapes were minimal. Since we didn't use the pool, the bathrobes were never used.) The concierge class didn't help us get any special treatment when trying to book a tour in the Falklands. The cabins are identical to those on lower decks.
Service was generally excellent on every cruise we were on, regardless of line.
ACTIVITIES: on NCL and Equinox, the lecturers were oriented to shore excursions, hence the sale of the tours and shopping. On Infinity, there were 2 lecturers, both university professors: a biologist and a geologist. We went to every lecture, and every one was magnificent. Their lectures gave us a better idea of which tours we wanted, sometimes confirming our prior research, and sometimes causing us to change our minds. These two guys also acted as our guides as the ship cruised Antarctica. Our understanding and appreciation skyrocketed due to their presence, for they added so much content to the scenery.
Smoking is extremely limited on the ship (GREAT!), consequently, one could walk through the casino without a gas mask or even the open deck. Since we don't gamble and rarely drink (outside wine or beer with dinner or lunch), we can't comment on the casino or bars.
ENTERTAINMENT: Our group (Music at Sea) featured Brooks Aehron, a fantastic pianist who also performed for the ship. While his style is clearly towards the classical era, he also performed some Gershwin & Andrew Lloyd Webber. We also enjoyed the strings quartet who also did a joint concert with Brooks: amazing is the only qualitative word that truly fits.
We went to a couple of the theatre productions, and found the entertainment in those shows to be far superior to the Equinox which featured more circus acts. The music on the Infinity, even if was a style that we rarely enjoy, was uniformly superb.
STATEROOM: functional, with no problems. That may sound 'adequate,' but compared to our trip on the Equinox, it was wonderful. Clothing storage was important because we were in 3 seasons: winter, summer, spring. We didn't carry any formal wear or even suits/dresses; our cruise style is to enjoy the destination. After dressing for work for 40+years in suit & tie, its a pleasure not to have to do it anymore. (However: see dining for more). We rather tramp around the deck when the wind was blowing or the pampas and hills than wear formal wear.
Besides the space for storage, everything in the room worked on the Infinity. The bugs (and smell) were still being worked out when we sailed on the Equinox, with myriad small problems about every other day. The layout of the room helped maximize our cruising experience due to the balcony and outside window wall.
DINING: The main dining room (MDR) was probably adequate, service was slow, and we really didn't enjoy it very much. We didn't eat there on formal nights, and the ship was just about to convert to a partial open dining plan in the MDR. Honestly, I don't enjoy French cooking, and would have preferred the choices in the buffet to the MDR.
We ate as a group in the specialty restaurant (SS United States) twice, and they required me to wear or drape a suit coat over the back of my chair. I understand their logic, and tried to comply, in spite of the fact that we didn't bring such clothing with us. The food was nice, but again, that's not our style.
BUFFET & BISTRO: Hot Food was always hot, and choices were always excellent. Quality was better than 'adequate" and we should have eaten dinner there more often. Trays made every meal there better because each individual was responsible for assuring that hot food was hot by the time you got to a table, not the inefficiency of staff or the layout of the facility. In comparison, hot food that was warm was the best that could be expected on the Equinox. The room was never over-crowded during breakfast, as it always was on the Equinox and the NCL ships.
BISTRO was a gem! During dinner hours, it was an area of the buffet with table service and a different cuisine, with a nominal $2 service charge. It's an area where new assistant waiters were trained. The nights we ate there were dining experiences to be treasured. Salads were buffet style. Vegetables were family style (several options on a serving plate to be shared by those at the table). Five kinds of meat were served straight from the barbecue skewer (pork, chicken, lamb, flank steak, & fillet Mignon). The food was superb, and the service impeccable. If we weren't with a tight-knit group we would have eaten other dinners there that featured locale cuisine. Embarkation & Disembarkation: Buenos Aires is a cumbersome port for the Infinity. We needed to be shuttled from the terminal to the ship by a bus. Not the best arrangement, but the rest of the cruise was wonderful.
OTHER: the photo people weren't as pushy as they were on some ships. Given the remoteness of the destination, we looked at the DVD prepared and sold by the photo people. It is superb, we bought it, and aren't disappointed. We've been a bit disappointed in the past by some of the photographers on-board other ships, so we didn't buy some of their other packages or stock photos. We wish we had. The packages, like the video, were excellent.
CHILDREN'S CLUBS: not applicable to us, but we did see young kids having a great deal of fun.
PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED ACCESSIBILITY: On board the ship, it was as expected: excellent. Off ship, there were problems for the physically challenged on this itinerary.
OVERALL: Not quite the expedition ship experience, but wonderful combination of exploring a rarely seen part of the world while at ease. We choose not to make it a luxury cruise, a feature for those who like it on Celebrity. Other than MDR food, this was a superb cruise in every way. Less
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Cabin review: 8086
Concierge class is a waste of money, and too high on the ship when seas are rough and the ship is cruising at speed). Closet is fine, but shelves are superb (esp. as compared to the Equinox). Views were lovely, location very quiet and smooth (except for rough seas).
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