Buenos Aires to Valpariso January 2, 2012: food, service, activities, and communications between Cruise Director, staff and guests falls short for a 5 star cruise.
The Celebrity Infinity was nicely remodeled and had the same layout as the Solstice. It was clean and the stateroom service was good - although others on the trip had problems getting towels. My complaints were
- Celebrity representatives that I called prior to leaving the U.S. told us boarding time was 4 pm with the ship leaving at 7 pm. So we arrived at 4:30 pm only to discover that 4:45 pm was last call and when we got on board, they were conducting their safety drill - so we not only didn't know where to go in case of an emergency, we had to stand still on the gangway until they finished the safety test. We were upset about the incorrect boarding time as we would have liked to have boarded earlier, enjoyed lunch and attended many of the state room and ship tours they provided on that day only. Instead, we were rushed on board and then had to wait for luggage. Oh, and the boarding pass we printed out didn't show the boarding time or the Pier Terminal number and taxi drivers had difficulty finding the correct terminal - it is a confusing commercial pier in Buenos Aires.
- Celebrity also treated each stateroom's guests as a couple - so when I checked in many hours after my friend, Celebrity didn't have a key for me and I had to go to guest services (after the safety drill) and wait in line to get a key made for me. Each night they also only provided one schedule of events and one survey, and one dis-embarcation form, one agriculture form etc. so we had to go get extras each time since we aren't a married couple. This was annoying.
- My other biggest complaint was their scheduling of events. They often had popular events scheduled at the same time and only once during the 13 night cruise. For example, a lecture on Patagonia animals at the same time as the Galley Tour. Each of these would be held once in 13 days - so you had to choose. This was frustrating when there was ample time to schedule one in the morning and one in the afternoon when less popular activities were planned such as line dancing or Trivia. This happened several times including the scheduling of the Roll Call Connections Party. Some times I discovered that the lectures were on TV but there wasn't a schedule nor was it mentioned by the Cruise Director. The replays appeared randomly.
When cruising through the Fjords, there was no mention of what we were seeing in terms of pointing out or announcing the glaciers etc. We had to ask for the dining room window covers to be raised so we could see the fjords - especially since the sun didn't set until 10 pm. Everyone applauded when covers were lifted.
They also only had 2 tango dance classes which was shocking since most of the cruise was in Argentina - the home of tango dancing. Over 300 people showed up for class - so there was demand...yet they had line dancing and watercolor class almost daily with attendance of around 20 people. They also only had one Professional Tango show with the Gauchos and Devils an incredible show - yet they had magic and juggling twice. I don't understand the logic behind this.
They had singles mixers from 7:45-8:45 pm so no one could attend since this was either dining hour or during the first show.
The other thing is that they played disco music every evening, yet over half of the guests spoke Spanish and would have preferred Latin Music such as Salsa and Meringe, Cha Cha and Tango - a big mistake...guests were annoyed....at times the dance floor was empty when disco was played night after night. Upon request, when they played Salsa, the dance floor was packed.
Finally, the food in the main dining room was only satisfactory. I ordered different fish dishes on 4 different nights and the food was not edible. I had to send it back and get something else. It was over cooked or had no flavor - even the lobster was over cooked and tough. The service was also poor. We waited over 30 minutes one night for appetizers and even though we sat down for dinner by 6:45 pm, we had to rush dessert to make the 9:15 pm show. Since gratuities were pre-paid for Select Dining, I asked about adjusting them for the dining room and was told I couldn't do it - it was all or nothing and I had to choose before the trip.
The itinerary was good but I would have preferred more time in Puerto Mont where there is more to do than Montivideo or Punta Arenas where there is little to do.