Overall Rating: Outstanding ship and crew, great food, great scenery, weather was mostly cold
Preparation: Thing to bring that you might not think of:
· Color copies of you passports - they take your passport at check in and give you some crummy black and white copies of your passport 3 days later. If you get delayed and miss the ship leaving port, you are screwed without some good identification. Your driver's license and a good copy of your passport might get you on a flight to the next port where you can re-board the ship.
· Trail Mix - you'll need it on excursions when lunch is served 6 hours after you had breakfast on the ship. Mix walnuts, almonds, dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds and other stuff you like, stay away from chocolate that might melt and make your hands messy.
· Water bottles - a couple of leak proof plastic water bottles that you can use on the plane and on shore excursions, its there when you need it and you know the source of the water. · Power strip if you bring a laptop or small music system like an Ipod with external speakers - we played the system every day while we were dressing or getting ready for bed, there is nothing like having your own music. The power strip was handy and many of the plugs on these chargers are quite large, so the power strip is needed.
· Wire Hangers - the closets on Infinity have ample room for 2 people clothes for 2 weeks, but not enough hangers. There are fold down hangers allowing you to make a lower rack of hanging short clothes. I've seen people recommend bringing plastic hangers, but they are bulkier and you will likely take them home with you at the end of the trip, where as the wire hangers will be left behind.
· Workout clothes - great gym, free, you want to look like you belong in a gym. Gym gloves help with some of the equipment and the free weights. I brought a 32 oz water bottle for cold water while working out. This bottle was also used to store many little items in the suitcase.
· Small clothespins - wash and hang workout clothes rather than on the clothesline provided in the shower, the clothespins allow the clothes to get twice as much air as just hanging the shirts over the line.
· Parka with hood, knit hat and gloves, you'll need them for several of the excursions and for going out onto the deck early and late in the day when the temp is in 30's and 40's and the wind is 25 to 40 mph.
· Meds: If I had another chance I would have packed some Imodium and some Pepto-Bismol - more on that later. · Packing Bags - we packed our parkas and sweaters in these bags that you can squeeze the air out of, saved a huge amount of luggage space.
Don't Bother Bringing
· Umbrella - the wind is generally so strong that the umbrella is useless; a raincoat with a rain hood is your best bet. I found one day to use it, and even then a raincoat would have worked better.
· Lots of walking shorts - the ship doesn't want you wearing them except in the gym and the ship cautions tourists not to bear their knees or shoulders if you going to public places like cathedrals. Bring one pair of walking shorts for a shore excursion where you won't be out of place and a couple pairs of shorts for the gym and pool.
· Duct tape and bungee cords - several cruise reviews mentioned that these were great things to bring, but we never used them.
· Foreign Money - virtually everyone takes the American dollar Shoes - (for men) they take up so much space, here's what you really need:
*One pair of casual shoes that can be used for walking shoes on shore excursions, in the gym, and at casual dinners - a good looking pairs of tennis shoes will do, or a nice pair of walking shoes, Sketchers makes some great slip-ons that fill these requirements
*One pair of dressy black shiny shoes for informal and formal nights
*One pair of sandals for the pool deck Tipping - If you agree to tip the standard amount, you can just have the ship charge that amount to your credit card that you registered when you boarded. This way you get the airlines miles and you don't have to try to get change that is close to the recommended tip amounts and you have to bring all that extra cash. The service was so good that I gave each of the persons an additional amount.
Maps - Its nice to have good maps of South America before you leave home, especially of the fjords. Try getting them at home (from the auto club or on-line). Good maps in English were very hard to find, and they were usually encased in plastic so you couldn't see if the map met your needs. In Buenos Aires, there is a good downtown map free at the Port Terminal building, which is where you catch cabs to go into town. The Port Terminal Building in Valpo had some good maps and photo CDs, but we thought we would have similar shopping opportunities wherever we went (wrong), buy them in Valpo.
Tuxedo Rental - I arranged to rent a Tux jacket and shoes from the company that works with Celebrity. This worked great, it saved me from having a wrinkled tux jacket to deal with. The shows were a little wide, I should have brought thicker black socks and that would have solved that fitting problem. I brought my own tux pants, shirts and cumber buns. There are 3 formal nights. Many men wore dark suits instead. Embarkation: All passengers that we talked to were told a few days before departure, that no one could board until 3:00 pm. Since we arrived in Valpo at 9:30 am, we really tried to figure out how to spend our day productively.
Celebrity opened the check in lines at 11:15 am; the check in process took about 10 minutes. We received our ship credit card, Seat assignment card for the dining room and surrendered our passport. Bring a photocopy of your passport in case you need some ID during your shore excursions and sometimes to get back on the ship. We were then put on a bus and were transported to the ship, which was at the other end of the harbor. We walked right up the gangway and presented our cards, they took our security pictures and that was it. We were on the ship at 11:30. No bands were playing, but they were passing out Mimosas, champagne and juice. A buffet lunch was served from noon on Level 10.
First Day To Do's - The computer team offers 4 free one-hour hands on classes. Sign up as soon as you get on board; they are gone by the end of the first day. We took the class on down loading and managing digital pictures in XP. The class was very good. The free class on windows and e-mailing was worth what you paid, so many true beginners in the room that anyone who regularly uses e-mail and was looking for some tips got no useful info.
Healthy Dining – The main restaurant, Trellis (Deck 4), has one menu item in each category that they consider to be relatively healthy. The Ocean view Café, Deck 10, is where many people have breakfast and lunch, buffet style. They do make eggbeater omelets, the eggs to order station is way in the back of the restaurant and most people miss it the first day or two and just take the scrambled eggs in the main section of the buffet. They also have some great oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. For lunch you can find healthy items in their buffet. The best bet for a healthy lunch or breakfast or snack until 8:00 pm is the Aqua Spa Café, also on Deck 10 (forward). Seating is around the enclosed deck swimming pool and spas. Service is self serve buffet style. The food is fantastic and very healthy. Overall Food Quality – No matter where you ate the food was wonderful, never had anything that wasn’t at least good. Most of the time the food was very good to excellent. The lobster was disappointing (from the Caribbean).
Wine with Dinner – Rather than ordering wine by the glass, where your choices are much more limited than if you buy bottles, you can ask you wine steward to save the rest of the bottle for the next night, which they will gladly do.
Aqua Spa Health Club – First class facility! No charge to use the workout facilities, which are excellent. They do charge $10 for certain classes like Yoga and Pilates. Yoga is really hard to do on a rolling ship, so skip that one. Pilates was excellent and is a good way to try out this way of working on your core. The weight machines are Nautilus and they have very tricky devices to adjust the seats. Look for a bicycle brake like handle, squeeze it and adjust the seat. Worked out there once at 9:30 pm, and saw most of the singers and dancers that had the night off. When the weather is decent, deck 11 has a running/walking track where you can get your cardio, and the breeze will keep you cool.
On Board Sicknesses – There is no way to know how many people got sick on the cruise, towards the end of the cruise I got hit with diarrhea and nausea. Same thing happened to a friend of our. We heard about many passengers being confined to their cabins while they were fighting whatever virus they picked up. If you go to the infirmary and the think you could be risk to your fellow passengers, Infinity quarantines the sick person to their cabin for 3 days and their travel mate for 24 hours. The ship’s crew was constantly disinfecting everything that people touch, but still get sick.
Cabins – We had 4 suitcases full of stuff and the cabin absorbed it all, lots of places to store stuff. The brochure says there is a refrigerator, but it is the typical overpriced MiniBar, with very little room for your stuff. It also mentions a VCR in the room, ours didn’t have one, Videotapes are too bulky to carry and there was no place on the ship to check out tapes, so I guess the brochure is out of date on that item. The beds were very firm, which we liked. Our dinner tablemates didn’t like the hard mattress and their cabin steward put a foam pad on the top of their mattress and they slept great after that. You could get CNN International and ESPN International via satellite, which worked about 60% of the time. They had music channels and internal shows as well. We had a balcony, which was wonderful. The cabin stewards were great, they serviced the room 3 times per day. We tipped them above the recommended amounts.