This is our first cruise review on my first Panama Canal cruise on my first Infinity cruise. We met our ship in Fort Lauderdale Florida, so that entailed a plane trip from Ontario California to Florida. We left our home at 6:00 P.M. on March 26th to meet an airport shuttle at our parents' home. Like clockwork the airport shuttle showed up on time and took us to the airport where we waited for our 11:00 PM flight. All our flights and connections went perfect and we arrived in Fort Lauderdale airport at 9:10 AM on March 27th. We quickly made contact with the Celebrity transfer personnel, added our names to the pickup list and began to wait for our promised 10:30 AM shuttle ride to the ship. At approximately 3:30 PM the shuttle arrived to take us to the ship. This was the worst thing that occurred in this vacation. When I booked the cruise and the flight and the airport transfer I was promised to be picked up at the airport at 10:30 AM and told we would have an early boarding as early as 11:00 AM. After a six and one-half hour wait in the airport lobby without food or drinks given to us and sitting on concrete we were very certain that the rest of our Celebrity trip would be terrible. We fin ally arrived at the cruise terminal and spent the next 1.5 hours going through the check-in process and eventually got on the ship at 5:00 PM, we were almost the very last people to get on the ship.
We went directly to our room and found our luggage in the hallway the bags were there except for two bags which held our nice dining and evening clothes. So that first evening we went to dinner in jeans and tee shirts, our bags did not arrive to our room until the next day. Our room was a balcony room located on deck seven and yes, all four of us, two adults, a 12 year old female and an autistic 8 year old male all shared this room for two weeks. Normally this would have been a recipe for disaster but it wasn't. There were so many things for us all to do and so many places to go to on the ship that all there was in the room was harmony and interesting conversation and of course the ever present television. The room was a nice room, a slight bit run down, but in all it was nice. The room had plenty of storage (it reeked of old cigarette smoke), and we had room to store our suitcases.
We ate most of our dinners in the main dining room and enjoyed the high quality of the food, the over and above service from all of our servers Alexander, Olena, and Pedro. I must state at this point that our youngest son is Autistic and prior to the voyage we emailed Celebrity and stated our concerns for our sons' needs. I also must tell you that we never did get a reply from our email, but the service and attention that our son received was beyond anything that we would have expected from the crew. The table we had for dining was in a quiet corner and close to the exit it was perfect for our son. The waiter Alexander and his assistant Olena worked extremely hard and diligently at making our son happy and content. Each night when we sat down to dinner, he had a bowl of cereal with milk waiting for him; I believe we had the best three waiters on the ship. All of the breakfast and lunch offerings were of high quality and like a cruise they were available in massive quantities.
We all liked the entertainment on the ship and were involved in several of the classes, activities, movies, and lectures. Our two children loved going to the "Fun Factory" and pushed us often to go and spend most of their time there. The staff at the kids' area was great and worked well with both of our kids whether they were there together or by themselves (which is a big deal for an autistic child).
We had pre-purchased all our land excursions through Celebrity it may have been a bit expensive but in hind sight it was the best decision for us. There were no worries on the excursions, all was taken care of and they all had a safe feeling to them.
Our first stop was supposed to be the Grand Caymans, but shortly after leaving Fort Lauderdale a fellow passenger took ill and had to be taken back to the United States for care. The ship turned around and headed back to Florida where we meet the U.S. Coast Guard and they took the patient from the ship while we were sailing. This delivering of a person back to the U.S. caused a large enough time usage to not allow us to go to the Caymans, so we spent an additional day at sea. I would like to applaud the Infinity Captain for this decision; his decision proved that the safety and health of the passengers was important. As an after thought the extra day at sea made us all relax earlier in our vacation and was to us a plus.
Our second stop was Cartagena, Columbia. This stop scared us little prior to going on this cruise but once we got there and went on the Deluxe Cartagena & Fortress tour we felt safe and really enjoyed ourselves, we also got to hold a three toed sloth, which cost us $2.00 for each picture - no big deal, were on vacation and the kids really enjoyed it. The Fort of San Felipe de Barajas was very interesting and we wanted to spend more time looking around the fort but this entire Columbia tour was at a rather quick pace and did not allow for much time anywhere not even in the shopping areas.
Two days after leaving Columbia we went through the Panama Canal. We purchased a balcony room and it worked out great, we could see everything from our room and once you turn-on the television you can hear all of the gate by gate explanation and history of the Panama Canal. We found out later that the decks and railings were elbow to elbow packed people for the passage; we had made the right decision on the balcony room. We got to see the canal, hear the guides' narrative of the crossing all from the comfort and lack of human congestion. Please don't get me wrong about the other passengers on the cruise; everyone I meet was nice, talkative but not annoying. And like it has been said by other review writers, the mean age of the passengers was 68, which was wonderful. Out of over 2,000 passengers only 25 were 18 years of age or younger. It was great to always see happy faces that were not intoxicated.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica was our next port following the Panama Canal passage. This place is great and we all wished we could have spent more time looking around the country side and the city. We went on the Costa Rica's Favorites tour, our tour guide was wonderful and the fruit snacks were delicious and were a welcome sight. The Tarcoles River tour proved to be boring but the tour guides were interesting, easy to understand and they attempted to fill our time with facts of the area and were always able to answer any questions. Pacific Rain Forest Aerial Tram was fun and the tour guide was informative and very friendly. The only thing that all of these tours lacked were the visible presence of animals due to the lateness of the afternoon.
Following a day of free sailing our third stop was Huatulco, Mexico. We had the Ancient Huatulco and La Crucecita Tour. The Copalita Point Eco-Archaeological Centre, Mixtec native tour was an interesting and great history lesson; our tour director was extremely knowledgeable about the subject and was able to explain everything in great detail and in plain language. If you are into seeing and learning about history I would not miss this easy paced informative tour. The shopping in La Crucesita was an enjoyable comfortable experience. I would certainly return to this Mexico Port for another visit, it was clean, beautiful and we all felt very safe.
The next day was a stop in the port of Acapulco Mexico. Prior to arriving at this destination I had preconceived ideas of how exciting, beautiful and glamorous Acapulco would be, I was completely wrong! The port and the city is run-down, dirty and tired looking. The city omitted a strong feeling of foreboding danger with its multiple numbers of fully armed military personnel, most of which rode around in the back of troop trucks all armed and all wearing jungle fatigues and masks. We did not care for the Turtle release tour, it appeared to be a backyard function of a local family and the tour guide was full of himself and was extremely hard to hear and understand. All of us agreed on the fact that none of us ever wanted to go back to this port.
After one more day sailing the ocean and then we visited the port of Cabo San Lucas on the next day. We had another tour scheduled for this day and that was the Cabo Semi Sub Underwater Adventure. It was easy to get to the tour, being it was located on the same pier that the Infinity shuttles dropped off and picked up at. This tour turned out to be a waste of time and money. The boat/semi sub was overcrowded and filled with rude, pushy, tourist. We did not see any undersea wildlife and we got beat up on the boat by the ocean surf. I would not recommend this tour to anyone. The city of Cabo was a quaint quiet secure feeling town and I would have liked to have spent more time exploring this vista.
I would definitely recommend this ship and its crew to anyone. The entire experience of our Panama Canal cruise was wonderful and most of it was due to the crew and amenities offered by Celebrity Infinity. At each port we were greeted by ship personnel giving out cold water, juice, and towels when returning to the ship. No other ship group were given these offerings while waiting to board, not even the expensive Disney Line.