Celebrity Infinity Dining
The striking Trellis Restaurant, Celebrity Infinity's main dining room, offers formal breakfast, lunch (select days only) and dinner. It also offers brunch on one of the sea days. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are set for combinations of six, eight and 10. (Two-tops and four-tops are available in limited quantities.)
There are two options for dinner in the Trellis Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional, set seating (at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to dine any time between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other cruisers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat.
The effects of adding cabins and carving Blu out of the Trellis Restaurant during Infinity's revitalization are most felt in the ship's Celebrity Select dining experience. It's the one place where Infinity gets too crowded, especially when the ship is near full capacity and on nights (like formal night) when more people, AquaClass passengers included, choose to eat there. Nearly everyone shows up during the peak dining hours of 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; passengers with reservations will likely wait 10 or 15 minutes to get through the line, while passengers without reservations can wait a half hour or more for a table. Celebrity is working on getting buzzers for waiting passengers, but with limited dining space, there's just no way to add more tables to the already squashed second floor of Trellis to accommodate flexible diners.
Cuisine at The Trellis is generally well received; the menu features a mix of traditional and imaginative fare with vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, no-sugar-added and SPE (healthy yet tasty, as validated by SPE Certified consultants) items noted on the menu. Anytime menu items include escargot and shrimp cocktail starters, French onion soup and Caesar salad, broiled salmon and New York sirloin entrees, sides of roast potatoes and steamed vegetables, and chocolate cake, apple pie and cheesecake for dessert. Our only service complaints were that they could bring bread more quickly to the table (given that many diners had just waited for a table and were hungry) and that the waiters could respect our choice not to eat dessert, and not try to wheedle us into trying the cherries jubilee.
The Oceanview Cafe is the ship's buffet restaurant, located aft on the pool deck. Coffee, tea and juices are available 24/7, and food is served from 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. The buffet is set up in one long U, but three stations are hidden way at the back, separate from the main buffet and easy to miss, which is unfortunate; these sections have different offerings from the regular buffet.
Breakfast, served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (with early and late options on either side), features made-to-order omelets, American and English hot breakfasts, fruit, yogurt, bread, cheese and cereal, as well as stations for Asian specialties, a poached egg bar and a waffle/pancake station in the back. The main lunch service runs from noon to 2:30 p.m. with half the stations remaining open well into the afternoon and evening. You'll find hot fare, a salad bar, a pasta bar and a carving station, with pizza, Asian and Panini/fish and chips in the back. Tea sandwiches and scones are served from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., offers more hot fare and a carving station, plus a curry station, made-to-order stir-fry, sushi and miso soup and more pasta, pizza and salad. Don't miss Celebrity's homemade ice cream near the entrance to the Oceanview Cafe; it's available until 10 p.m. and quite tasty.
The Pool Grille, just forward of the buffet, offers hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers with fries from noon to 6 p.m. In the Solarium, the AquaSpa Cafe is a small buffet, serving light meals by the thalassotherapy pool. Breakfast (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.) includes healthy muffins, fruit and oatmeal for free and smoothies, fresh juices and yogurt parfaits for an extra fee. Lunch, from noon to 2 p.m., centers on veggies and salads.
The SS United States, Celebrity Infinity's $45-per-head alternative restaurant on Deck 3, excels in appetizers and desserts, but main courses can be hit or miss. For a sure win, choose the lobster, prepared (and set afire) tableside. Pace yourself, as you'll be offered a cheese course, dessert and complimentary truffles to finish off your meal. In addition to the regular menu, you can opt instead for the Five Senses menu, which presents six courses paired with wines, for a higher surcharge of $89 per person. The setting is delightful, with large porthole windows, white tables and walls with blue and red accents. A special wine room can also host a large private group for a special dinner. Celebrity's Champagne High Tea, which takes place once or twice a cruise, is also offered in the SS United States. While a string quartet plays, premium tea and coffee, savory sandwiches and desserts are served on fine china for a $25-per-person charge. It was not well advertised on our cruise, so look out for it if you're keen.
Qsine (pronounce "cuisine") is Infinity's for-fee "creative comfort food" venue, at which patrons order whimsically presented dishes off of iPads. Instead of waiters, you get culinary tour guides, and presentation -- think sushi lollipops or spring rolls served in actual springs -- is the focus. It's $45 per person to eat there. The food is more fun than gourmet, and the best way to dine there is to get together a large group and sample a variety of items. Duos will quickly fill up and are likely to leave disappointed. Excellent choices include M's Favorites, a selection of Mediterranean mezze, and Painter's Mignon, filet mignon with an array of accompaniments. For dessert, the decorate-your-own cupcakes and the trio of gelatos are scrumptious. Qsine, on Deck 11, can be hard to find; take the central glass elevators or the stairs by the entrance of the Oceanview Cafe.
Carved out of a portion of the main dining room on Deck 5 is Blu, Celebrity's spa dining venue, exclusively for AquaClass passengers. Those booked in Royal and Penthouse suites are allowed to dine there, space permitting, for $5 per person. Fee-free for AquaClass residents, the restaurant is open for breakfast (7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.), serving light meals like smoothies and muesli. Dinner (6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) offers a changing menu of clean and simple cuisine, such as a roasted chicken breast or blackened ahi tuna. The venue is gorgeous, done in white with bright blue accents and a row of large porthole windows along one side. Note that Blu is intended to be AquaClass passengers' main dining venue for breakfast and dinner (though they can opt for Select dining whenever they wish), and no guests are allowed. So if you're booked in AquaClass and wish to eat with friends in other cabin categories, you must go to another venue.
A for-fee yet casual venue is Bistro on Five, hidden in an easy-to-miss area behind the Cellar Masters bar on Deck 5. Bistro's main fare is crepes, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert crepes. It also features panini sandwiches (steak, chicken or vegetable), soups and salads. Popular choices include the sweet banana, nutella and pistachio crepes and the savory Cowboy crepe, featuring marinated flank steak. Bistro on Five is open from 8 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. and requires no reservations, though there is a $10-per-person service charge (which covers as many crepes and paninis as you can eat). We found the crepes to be mediocre and oversauced, but others were fans. Bistro on Five is the busiest during lunch and early afternoon; it's very quiet at breakfast and dinner. Tapas and antipasti are served next door at Cellar Masters from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Also on Deck 5, Cafe al Bacio serves free breakfast pastries and desserts from morning 'til night, but the specialty coffee and tea drinks cost extra. (The general consensus is that the coffee there is the only coffee worth drinking onboard.) Across the atrium, the gelateria offers several flavors of gelato from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and it's definitely worth the extra fee.
Many passengers on our cruise partook in Celebrity's drink packages, but we never noticed the drinking getting out of hand (perhaps because many got them free in a booking promotion and had no incentive to get their money's worth). You can choose Premium or Classic beverage, wine, soda and bottled water packages and purchase them pre-cruise or onboard.
Room service is available 24/7. Breakfast door cards allow you to check off both cold (cereal, fruit) and hot (eggs, pancakes) choices and choose a window for delivery times. Throughout the day, passengers can order from a menu of soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches, pizza and dessert, with additional hot items like vegetable lasagna, New York strip steak and avocado-tomato quesadillas. Order via the phone or the interactive TV. Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., there's a $3.95 charge for passengers in interior, oceanview and balcony staterooms. Tipping for room service is customary other times.