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Sail Date: October 2003
Celebrity Millennium October-November 2003 Transatlantic Crossing This was our fourth cruise with Celebrity. Overall rating was fair. - Approximately 70 passenger bags never boarded. Some came on days later and three bags came on 10 ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium October-November 2003 Transatlantic Crossing This was our fourth cruise with Celebrity. Overall rating was fair. - Approximately 70 passenger bags never boarded. Some came on days later and three bags came on 10 days later. - The ship had food shortages. Milk, bananas, prunes, berries. - The ship docked in Ft. Lauderdale at 10pm, the evening before our Sunday 7am scheduled arrival due to replacement of transformers. The work was commenced immediately upon docking and the noise level was unbearable. - One guest the second night got a shard of glass in his soup and was given an apology and 6 chocolate covered strawberries as satisfaction. - Captain's club members were not given priority debarkation at all times and on the final day some were forced to stay on board until other "baggage colors " called. - Food was average. The buffet was poor. The morning and luncheon in the Metropolitan restaurant was spotty. It seemed like 1/2 of the waiters were not at all attentive. Many passengers noted this and said the crew looked and acted tired. - Entertainment was also fair with one exception Scott Record, a comedian. - Casino was the worst I have ever experienced. The slots were so tight with any payment far and few. Most people avoided this venue. - Guest activities at best a hodge podge. Meaning there were few events and they often conflicted. Given a 5-day crossing they need to provide many more activities. Highlites were Bingo, Cartwrites series on ships, the computer classes, the investment banking seminar (however it was way too basic). - Olympic restaurant ($25.00) per person additional charge was well worth it. - The outdoor pool water was not heated. - Cabin pricing: Celebrity's pricing is similar to the airlines. Depends upon who you call and time of day. Many people seem to know the angles and book a "low-cost" room and then complain and get upgraded. This practice is very unfair. - Shore excursions were very good and generally well run. The only complaint is that a certain tour guide took the right front seat making the paying guest sit behind, even though space was provided on the steps for the guide. - Spa services were very good.  We were in a Concierge cabin. The service by our room attendant was good although he offered no additional services as we received on a previous cruise in a non- concierge cabin. The only exception was Hor'D at 5pm which were tasteless and poorly presented. I will say that our embarkation was very good. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This was our third Celebrity Cruise; our second two weeker. We were on the Zenith in late November/early December. While I love Celebrity and especially its marvelous staff, I can't say this was one of out better cruises. It started ... Read More
This was our third Celebrity Cruise; our second two weeker. We were on the Zenith in late November/early December. While I love Celebrity and especially its marvelous staff, I can't say this was one of out better cruises. It started badly with food poisoning in the hotel in Santiago we were put in, and it got even worse when the good ship's Doctor, an overweight, chain smoking Italian, decided that a mild case of diarrhea was deserving of a three day confinement to my stateroom. I had no other symptoms: no fever, no vomiting, nothing. But he arbitrarily committed me to confinement, and my wife to twenty four hours. I will admit they are making an attempt to make it up by offering a future cruise credit but of course, that means I need to make another cruise. Upon embarkation we were all handed a letter advising of engine problems and the fact that the ship was operating at about 80% of speed, necessitating the removal of one of the port calls. We were also issued a $150 credit for the loss. The one excursion I was able to make, Arrica, was probably the most depressing shore experience I've ever had. It's like the old joke. First prize is a day in Arrica; second prize is a week in Arrica, and the last place prize is a golf course lot at the Arrica Country Club. What a hell hole. I couldn't do the Lima excursion due to the "confinement". Finally, the entertainment was very mediocre. And that was disappointing since I had told everyone about what a great group the Zenith had, including a world class Broadway singer, Jordan Bennett, whose CD's I play all the time, incredible comedians, and some of the best dancers I've ever seen. They can't get something comparable for a Millennium class ship? I also wasn't real pleased the with the former Brazilian Ambassador and his liberal politics either. The other speakers were pretty good. The food was the usual quality; the staff as always, brilliantly trained and motivated. Where does Celebrity find such nice people? Whoever is doing the hiring should be promoted, given a raise and put on the Board of Directors. They are all such marvelous representatives of their countries and their cultures that you can't help but admire the consistency of their work. How they put up with some of the passengers, especially the rude French and Germans, is a mystery to me. The special restaurant was well done but the wine by the glass prices are obscene. Service was outstanding. Food was not 5 star. During disembarkation, at a point when things had slowed to a crawl, whoever the young man was in charge of the theatre disembarking group, totally defused some growing tempers, by taking off his jacket and walking on his hands across the stage. The crowd applauded, quieted down and had a good laugh. You can't teach that type of public relations. I wish I'd gotten his name. He also needs a promotion and a spot bonus. A lot of stores on board. Called the Emporium. Not employees of Celebrity and very spotty in terms of attitude and customer relations. The H. Stern staff was excellent. Some of the others, especially some of the gals manning the islands, were snippy at best. Two or three I would have fired on the spot. I took two other couples with us. First time Celebrity cruisers, but very, very experienced cruisers nevertheless. In fact, far more so than we are. They pretty much concur with what I'm writing. I don't know that they'll go back to Celebrity. But we will. But I won't do South America. It was underwhelming. I wrote a critique of my Zenith cruise. It has never appeared. But I can tell you that on a scale of one to ten, it was a nine. This was a five. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
We had a nice cruise. Room attendant asked if we'd like him to separate the beds and then did so (other than on other cruises). Otherwise he did a great job too. Food was excellent. Not only the choice - which is excellent but the ... Read More
We had a nice cruise. Room attendant asked if we'd like him to separate the beds and then did so (other than on other cruises). Otherwise he did a great job too. Food was excellent. Not only the choice - which is excellent but the same on any Celebrity cruise we have been on - but this chef knew how to prepare the food and it was done accordingly. The shows were comparable to the shows on other Celebrity cruises we have been on, which is good. Weak points: While in Hawaii, weather was nice but because of port days we got little out of the pool. Once we had left Hawaii the wind was rather strong and the temperature of the outside pool soon became too cold for me. The outside whirlpools were much too hot for me. The wine tasting for Captain's club members I saw in the program was not for classic members. A good number of the menu cards in the dining room looked disgusting. Movies were not always well scheduled. Summarizing: as far as the ship and matters under its control are concerned this was probably our best cruise - so far. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2004
This is my husband and my first Celebrity Cruise on the Infinity. What a beautiful ship with a lot of class. We have sailed on the Norweigian and the Princess lines before this cruise. Now to critique our cruise: Embarkation - our plane ... Read More
This is my husband and my first Celebrity Cruise on the Infinity. What a beautiful ship with a lot of class. We have sailed on the Norweigian and the Princess lines before this cruise. Now to critique our cruise: Embarkation - our plane was delayed in Chicago and we arrived around 3PM on the day of the cruise. We had no lines to check in and were immediately led to our cabin in the CC Class cabin 9133, Sky Deck. CC Class Cabin 9133 - The cabin was nice with a queen bed and a love seat and ample storage for clothes for 11 days. The mattress was very comfortable with no notice of merging two twins together. The balcony was lovely with two nice padded chairs and a table. The bathroom was roomy and the shower stall seemed to be bigger than on the Golden Princess. My only complaint about the room was that there was no room between the mirrored wall and the bed for two people to get around unless the couple went single file. The fresh flowers in the room were a nice touch along with the deluxe robes and pastel towels. The overhang on the balcony was not an issue with us. Priority Tendering was well worth the CC class, especially if you had shore excursions booked. Elevators: If there were a rating on elevator service this would be a A+. If we were anywhere on the ship the wait time was less than a minute. By far better service than any ship we have ever been on. Dining - Late Seating - We ate in the Dining Room every evening, but one night, which we ate in the Specialty restaurant. First let me tell you that the main dining was magnificent. The service was wonderful and the food and the desserts were superior. Our waitress and waiter were concerned that each one of us were happy with the overall dining experience each evening. At our table we had 2 couples that I met on the Cruise Critic roll call and another couple from California. We looked forward to dining with them every evening and recapped about our activities that we did for that day. Specialty Restaurant: Wonderful experience, well worth the $30 per person charge. The goat cheese souffle was incredible!! Service, Service, Service. Go there if you want to be treated like one of the "Rich and Famous". Buffet Dining: I give this a mixed rating. The following ratings: General Food: C; Pasta Bar: A; Omelet Bar: A; Pastry Bar: A; Waffle Bar: A; Service: A+. Compared to the Princess I was disappointed in the general food buffet. The specialty bars were great along with the service. Pool Cafe: Hamburgers and Hot dogs (how can you screw up) Pizza OK, but to compare to the Princess Pizza, Celebrity can't come close. They need some help in the pizza department. Pools and Spa Pool: Pools were warm with salt water. Princess had fresh water pools, but were much cooler. I prefer myself the warmer water. The Spa Pool is a must, again it was warm and very relaxing. The "Chair Hogs" are on every cruise and are just rude and inconsiderate people. There were at least 70% of the the lounge chairs with towels and books on them and only 10 people in the hot tubs and pools. This is a great disappointment. I would think that the cruise lines would be able to remedy this problem. My husband and I only wanted a few hours around the pool on a few days, but had to yield to these rude obnoxious people. Bars: Martini Bar is a must!!! Service was excellent and the Martini's were the best. Martini Tastings should not be missed. It was $5.00 and you got to sample 6 different martinis. My suggestion is that they should have a different sampling for at least 5 nights on an 11 night cruise. I give this bar and the servers an A+++ with 5 stars. Casino: Good Casino, didn't win except for the last night. General Overall Comments: Beautiful ship with my kind of taste, eloquent but yet not gaudy. Service was A+ with not anything lacking in that department. Cabins were nice, but layout a little cramped, rating would be a B-. Cabin layout on Golden Princess rating would be a B+. Food in dining room - Celebrity has Princess beat, Food in Buffet - Princess has Celebrity beat, Service - Celebrity, Celebrity. I would cruise either Princess or Celebrity again depending on the itinerary and price. This was a great cruise and one to remember. Weather in late September and early October was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
This was our third Celebrity cruise and we also have done Princess and Carnival in the past for an overall 10 cruises. embarkation: Celebrity always does this the best! They let us on the ship at 11:30 even though they tell you after ... Read More
This was our third Celebrity cruise and we also have done Princess and Carnival in the past for an overall 10 cruises. embarkation: Celebrity always does this the best! They let us on the ship at 11:30 even though they tell you after 1:00. They don't let you in your room so they need to develop a plan for carry on luggage. We went to our room and tried to drop off our carry on and the stewart was stressed (of course he let us do it anyway). They have common rooms open. Ship: The ship is beautiful, but we were on the Summit in November which is similar so we expected as much. Martini bar was our favorite spot and the staff there from the bartender to waiters to bar manager never let us feel ordinary! Even if you don't like martinis this is the place to be before dinner. Covo the coffee bar is another great spot to go in the afternoon for that caffeine pick me up. We find they put the most interesting people there as it takes awhile to make the coffees so they need to make conversation. The dining room on all these class ships is breathtaking. The bar on deck 10 aft offers a relaxing place to have lunch, breakfast, or just sit and watch where we've been. The pool was the only disappointment, they had a big tile issue where they were falling off frequently, which created sharp spots on the floor of the pool. Cabin: We had a 1A balcony and the room was nice. Celebrity has found a way to keep you from feeling like you have two mattresses which is very nice. I like the mini bar for snacks or a drink and the prices are not bad. The balcony was a waste of money for this cruise, we always get balconies but for this cruise you are so active the first 6 days and then the last 4 days are windy as hell it was a waste. We used it the first 6 days for our morning coffee and that was it. Save your money and get an inside cabin. Shore Excursions: I have always thought that this was Celebrity's main weakness. On this cruise we did the "Adventure to Hana", Haleakala Crater", "Napali Explorer", "Waterfall Hiking Adventure", "Lava Viewing". I have to say they were all outstanding tours with good companies and outstanding people. Caution on the Adventure to Hana, it a brutal 287 mile ride (11 hours) of bumpy winding roads, you need to be able to endure this or pick something else. Dining: Celebrity does this very well usually. We had an ok waiter, with a poor assistant waiter, and a very poor sommelier so the experience was ok. We always get a big table and had a great group to share the experience with. Food is ok,we have so much fine dining in New England that we always expect a lot. The buffets were always pretty good, but we always find Carnival has better options and quality here. Check out the waffle station though, very good! We did casual dining one night (first time) and it was outstanding! The best food we had on the ship was at our casual dining. Entertainment: Celebrity does this the best! Don't miss a show. We had gotten to the point on other cruise lines where we skip shows and we never missed one here. The dancers, singers, and all entertainers were outstanding! Fitness & Recreation: We always plan on working out but never do, but the gym was world class! The entertainment was very weak. We were on the Summit and they did the same things but had better flow, timing, and locations. Having a deck party when you are overnight in Maui for example, no one showed! Inside events on the warm days and outside events on the cooler days. The cruise director was weak and we thought he didn't pay much attention to detail. Daily mistakes in the daily newspaper. Overall, we loved this cruise. The islands are some of the most beautiful places we've ever been. Celebrity is still our favorite and we love this class of ship. Be prepared for the ugly flight there (long) and the bus trip back but other than that it was GREAT! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
This was our 5th cruise with Celebrity. The weather and ports were beautiful but the cruise left us wanting more...more attention to detail, better quality and more variety in food choices, better air arrangements, more variety in ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise with Celebrity. The weather and ports were beautiful but the cruise left us wanting more...more attention to detail, better quality and more variety in food choices, better air arrangements, more variety in activities, especially on sea days. Simple activities like movies during the day or live music other than while we are eating supper (main seating) would have been better. Also, it would be nice for the activities staff to have alternate plans for days when it is too cool and too rainy to play pool games. Many shows were only offered once a night which made it appear that they were trying to save money by paying the entertainers less. We notice a lot more extra fees for activities that really shouldn't cost anything extra, a lot more recorded music rather than live, and little notes announcing extra fees for water, towels, etc. all over our cabin. We booked with the cruise line through their 800 number in Miami. We found the agent to be very helpful and easy to contact until we made our final payment. We're still waiting for him to return calls made after that. We were able to have some questions answered by calling Captain's Club, but we tended to get different answers, depending on who we asked. We made our air arrangements through custom air, months in advance but when we received our final papers, the arrangements had been changed and when I called, we were told we didn't have custom air after all even tho the person I had spoken to said we did. We did not arrive at the ship until almost 7:00 pst and were told that we would have to wait for the 8:30 seating for supper. Since we had traveled all day from the east coast per Celebrity's arrangements, this would have been 11:30 est so we declined and ate pizza on the pool deck, just pizza...no salad, nor anything else along with many others. This is the first cruise we've been on where they didn't take open seating on the arrival night. Our return flights from Honolulu were even less well planned. I would suggest that if you choose this route it would be worth it to go through your own travel agent and make your own flight arrangements. Ours were poor. We see lots of changes in the little things that make cruising enjoyable and wonder if this is the result of the RCI takeover. They seem to be adding extras for extra fees that used to be part of the package. The special restaurant, S.S. United States was wonderful and more like what the main dining experience used to be. The ship's appearance, overall, seemed like it needed some cleaning and polishing and picking up. Although the face to face staff seemed helpful, the folks in the white uniforms did not seem to care if we were there or not. Several times I was left standing in line behind them as they got their lunch or their beverages without so much as an"excuse me"or friendly nod. I also think Celebrity should consider embarking from San Diego and then making a visit to Ensenada as that bus trip is the pits. We were rushed to the bus, with a bottle of water and a small granola bar with no one from Celebrity to escort us or tell us what we were to do next. It was a long, dark and uncomfortable ride. I think Celebrity may be looking for new passengers but not worrying about keeping the ones they have had in the past. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
Infinity to Hawaii We flew in a few days early in order to enjoy all that San Diego has to offer. Unfortunately, it was quite cool (by Florida standards) and rained most of the time. Regardless, we took the trolley tour and toured the ... Read More
Infinity to Hawaii We flew in a few days early in order to enjoy all that San Diego has to offer. Unfortunately, it was quite cool (by Florida standards) and rained most of the time. Regardless, we took the trolley tour and toured the aircraft carrier, the Midway. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, but if you want the Holiday Inn across the street from the terminal, you want the Holiday Inn on the Bay. This hotel was full a year in advance of our cruise because of an international physician conference, so you might want to make reservations early if you want to stay there. There is a trolley stop in front of the ship terminal which is very convenient for seeing the sights of San Diego. Departure day it was still raining. We had to wait for the ship to come up from the Baja coast where the previous passengers were disembarked earlier in the morning. We arrived at the terminal about 11 a.m. On checking in we were given a boarding number, so there were advantages to getting there early. However, the terminal is quite stark with metal chairs, so not the most comfortable place to wait. The ship arrived around 1 p.m. and we were allowed to board shortly thereafter. The ship is beautiful. Our cabin (7166) was a standard balcony cabin, but was on the curve to the bump so the balcony was a bit bigger and accommodated two chairs, a small table and a padded lounger (which we had to request but was promptly brought). The bathroom is also standard with a nice sized shower. The shampoo and lotion that is provided is in a dispenser. There were also cotton balls, Q-tips, and two shower caps. The hair dryer is in the bathroom, not very strong and the hose broke on it twice during our 15 day cruise. They finally brought me a handheld blow-dryer to use. There are extra blankets and pillows in the closet (or try under your bed).While we received our luggage fairly timely, several others stated it was very late before they got theirs. Luggage fits nicely under the bed. The ice bucket they fill morning and evening, but we always found the ice all melted in the afternoon so asked to have our ice filled just before the cabin steward went off duty. That request resulted in us being given a small Igloo cooler, which was kept full throughout the cruise. We emptied the refrigerator of all the drinks on the shelf (put them in the drawer above the refrigerator and the steward removed them the first day) and filled the refrigerator with soda that we brought onboard with us in our luggage (we bought in San Diego). There is a safe, and closet space was limited for this long of a cruise. We sent several items out to be pressed and got them back two days later. The cost was $24 which was well worth it as my husband's formal shirts are impossible to keep from wrinkling. The room had a small loveseat and vanity which had poor lighting. There were 3 or 4 plugs next to the vanity, but none in the bathroom except the standard electric razor plug. The lifeboat drill was held at 5 p.m. Since the ship did not leave until 9, there was a lot of speculation on whether the drill would be late at night or even the next day. Even though the meeting places are inside, they do make you go outside to your lifeboat station. The weather did not improve until we got to our first port in Hawaii. It was very windy, overcast and cool with very rough seas. Many people were seasick the first day and one elderly woman fell on the marble staircase, breaking several ribs and her shoulder. In Hawaii the weather was warm and sunny, but the seas remained high allowing us to see some great surfing. We rented a car in every port except Maui (we were there only until 3 p.m.). I think this was the way to go as it was much less expensive then shore excursions. The only down side was having to shuttle to the airport (in most cases). Since this seemed to be a popular thing to do there was a lot of pushing and shoving to get on the shuttle rather than wait for the next one. We also experienced this once going back to the ship. In Maui we did a whale watching tour (whale season starts in December), and just walked around town. Every port has a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's and some had shuttles to other places such as Wal-Mart and in Maui to Whalers Village. You tender in Hilo and Maui - the rest of the islands we docked. When the ship moved from Hilo to Kona we passed the lava flow to the sea, which was awesome. It was 10 at night. If possible, I would recommend a room on the right side of the ship if you are facing forward. Not only was this the side of the lava flow, but it is also the side the sun is on coming back from Hawaii (which was sunny coming home). Many thought the ship would circle around so that the lava flow could be seen by both sides, but this did not happen. Also, in Hilo (I think) there were room flower arrangements for sale for $10 at the pier. There was also a good selection of fresh flower lei's for around $8. I got both and our room smelled wonderful for the rest of the trip. Formal nights were the first sea day, the sea day in Hawaii and the second to the last sea day coming home. The Cruise Critic party was the first sea day at 11 a.m., and because they had so many signed up on this cruise; they also had a party the last day at sea. I did not use the spa, but the indoor pool on this ship is wonderful and is free. It is heated saltwater with jets and bubbles to sooth aching muscles. A little hint, on the right side of the ship before you go into the spa there is a woman's dressing room that has showers, bathrooms, a sauna, hairdryer, towels and lotion. Because it was cold outside, I would use the pool then go into the sauna to get hot and somewhat dry before I went out on deck. In this area they also serve spa food (lower calories) from morning until 8 p.m. A lot of it is good, so I usually ate lunch there to cut the food intake somewhat! Speaking of food, here goes. The buffet is open for breakfast and lunch at 7:30 a.m. on sea days and 6:30 a.m. on port days. You can also eat dinner there, but have to make reservations. We ate there twice, which was just OK (the menu varies but got a really tough steak there), for a suggested tip of $2 per person. This area appeared to be the training area for future waiters and assistant waiters, so service was somewhat confusing. There is also a sushi bar open every evening at the aft of the ship, just before you go outside. The dining room was just OK. We are in our 50's and were seated with two older couples. One man had a stroke and could not speak and the other couple was shacking up - he being 86 and she 79. She talked about sex a lot - which was like your parents talking about sex - YUCK! We were going to change tables but never got around to it. Our waiter was very slow and dinners that started at 6 always ended after 8. Late dinner starts at 8:30, so we ended dinner with a lot of clanking from setting up the surrounding tables for the next group. We had one anniversary at our table (19 months for the live-together couple?) which was interesting as they sang to them with the traditional cake and then took the cake away, never to be seen again. They did not even get a piece of it! Food went from excellent to fair, but that is always subjective anyway. They always had 4 appetizers, 3 soups (one cold), 2 salads, a fish, pasta, and beef entrEe as well as two others (chicken, pork, veal). All the veal dishes were great. Several desserts, sherbet, ice cream. We went to the specialty restaurant (United States) and it was wonderful. However, the price has gone up to $30 a person, so nothing you would do too often unless you have a lot of spare money. Entertainment was the usual. The cruise director was new to the ship and I did not care for him, but again this is subjective. I thought he worked too hard to get applause. Sometimes shows were 8:45 for first seating and other times 9 p.m. For second seating it went between 10:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. There were 2-3 deck parties while in the islands. Celebrity is my favorite cruise line and I was not disappointed. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
My wife and I looked forward to a great cruise with Celebrity on the Infinity since we previously cruised on the Mercury and thoroughly enjoyed it. We weren't disappointed. Check in at San Diego went very smooth and we boarded ... Read More
My wife and I looked forward to a great cruise with Celebrity on the Infinity since we previously cruised on the Mercury and thoroughly enjoyed it. We weren't disappointed. Check in at San Diego went very smooth and we boarded quickly. This was a cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and we were accompanied by my wife's two sisters and their husbands (a Three Sisters Cruise). To no fault of the cruise line, the waters of the Pacific were rough the first full day at sea and my wife got seasick as well as her younger sister. The medical staff quickly remedied the situation and all were fine for the rest of the trip. My wife and I love to dance but the Infinity was not really suited for dancers. Only the Rendevous Lounge and the Constellation Club had dance floors. The Rendevous had a postage stamp size floor and the Constellation wasn't much larger with a patchwork metal floor. Our accommodations in our oceanview stateroom were just fine, very clean and roomy enough for two of us. We had a very attentive steward (Jose) and assistant steward (Clifford) taking good care of our stateroom. Dining in the Trellis dining room was always a treat. Our waiter (Dewa) and assistant waiter (Anwar) made every meal special. The food was always served as ordered and the presentations were fitting for fine dining. For fast dining of breakfast and some lunches, we ate in the Oceanview Cafe on deck 10. The food was very good and plentiful. I most enjoyed the light pastries at breakfast every morning. For finer dining, there is the S.S. United States Restaurant deck 3 midship. The activity staff had so many things going that it was hard to keep up with them. What a lively and charged group of people. There is always something going on to keep one's interest. Entertainment was certainly a highlight of our trip with some of the greatest dancers we've seen in a while. One of the dancers, Jen, put on some very basic dance classes that everyone seemed to enjoy. The best were the shows and the performers. We particularly enjoyed a group from Argentina called the Pampas Devils who put on a variety of Argentinean routines not often seen including an Argentine tango dance. Visits to each island were unique in that each has it's own special attraction. If you've been there before, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't visited Hawaii before, you've got to see it for yourself. It is truly a paradise. The weather was perfect for the entire six days we were there. We even got to go in the water at the beach above Kona on the Big Island and it was nice. As we sat on the beach, we watched the whales playing in the water off shore. What a treat. One night, the Captain took us close to an active volcano and about 11 p.m., we saw the lava coming out of a lava tube spilling into the ocean and giving us a sight not to be forgotten. As we set sail for home from Maui on the last day, we again saw whales frolicking in their Hawaiian wintering playground. As we left Hawaii, the waters were again very rough but as we got closer to the mainland of the U.S., the waters were much smoother with a high dominating the weather pattern. It was hard to believe that our 15 day cruise was coming to and end. Disembarkation was well planned and fairly smooth. The only hang up was that it was delayed due to customs and clearing the ship which caused a little later departure. Once we departed, finding our luggage and hailing a cab was fairly quick and before we knew it, we were at the airport and back to reality. All in all, the service on board the Infinity was first rate and the food was great. If you like to cruise, you wont be disappointed with Celebrity and the crew of the Infinity. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. Being great fans of Royal Caribbean (RCI), we were a little concerned about taking such a long first cruise with a new line, but from all we had heard, we expected as good a cruise - if not better ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. Being great fans of Royal Caribbean (RCI), we were a little concerned about taking such a long first cruise with a new line, but from all we had heard, we expected as good a cruise - if not better - than we had experienced on Brilliance of the Seas (our favorite ship) or Adventure of the Seas. We followed our standard practice of flying into the departure city a day early. We flew from Philadelphia to San Diego with a connection in Salt Lake City on Delta. Delta no longer serves anything free other than non-alcoholic beverages and small bags of pretzels, regardless of the time of day. We ate breakfast at 3:30 a.m. but were starving during the first leg of the flight, so we purchased a bagel onboard, which tided us over until we landed in San Diego and had lunch. The flights were stress free and our luggage made it to California with us (unlike on the return, when we made the connection in Atlanta but our luggage did not). We rented a car from Hertz because we got a rate of $17.99/day for a compact car. Since we are not Gold Club members, I waited in line for about 25 minutes. At that time, we upgraded to a larger car so we could fit most of our luggage in the trunk, raising the cost to $23.99/day. Getting out of the airport and to our hotel (The Fairfield Inn, San Diego) was easy. We used Marriott points for a free stay, and although the rooms were clean, this was a motel, not a hotel as other Fairfield Inns are. After checking in, confirming the hotel offered free high-speed Internet access, and dragging all our luggage up to the third floor, we went for lunch. Upon returning and settling in, I attempted to log onto the web through the hotel's Internet provider only to find it wasn't working. The front desk informed us that we needed to call the ISP. After two calls lasting more than 45 minutes, we determined there was a problem with the wiring in the room, and we went to the front desk to pick up a key for another room. We found occupants in the first room we tried, and the clerk spent another 20 minutes trying to find a non-smoking room, but we finally settled in a smoking room with a connection that worked. Unfortunately, it was in another building, which necessitated gathering our luggage on a cart, wheeling it down the hall, trying to get the cart into the small elevator, wheeling it across the parking lot, over a speed bump, into another elevator and down another long hall. We finally settled in around 8 p.m. local time, having been up since 3 a.m. East Coast time. Over Continental breakfast the next morning, we met three couples who were to board Infinity with us, and we now count one of those couples as friends. We made a quick dash to Ralph's for wine and water, then packed up the car and took it back to Hertz. We had been informed that we would be taken to the pier in a van, but when we inquired about it on the return line, it was decided that we would be taken to the pier in our car, so we wouldn't have to transfer the luggage. Three minutes later, we were unloading our luggage at the terminal in the pouring rain and then we headed to the check in area. We walked directly up to the counter for Concierge Class cabins, spent about five minutes getting our keys, and were informed that we would be in the first group to be called. With that, they announced that group 1 could board, so we went through security, had to lug our overloaded carry-ons up a flight of stairs (why no escalators?), and walked onto the ship. We were immediately offered champagne, but no one offered to show us to our cabin, so we asked for directions and headed on our way. Our cabin was ready when we arrived and when we met our cabin steward, Fides, several hours later, she emptied the minibar for us and took our clothes for the first formal night to be pressed. We headed up to the buffet for our first meal and let the adventure begin. Ship Design, DEcor and Layout: Overall, we found the dEcor of the ship subdued and a bit boring. We prefer the Centrum layout and the artwork found on Brilliance to the small atrium and abundance of silk flower arrangements and silk trees found throughout Infinity. The Christmas trees and poinsettias were a lovely holiday touch, and the ship is in excellent shape, but we thought Infinity deserved a teak Promenade and a bit less eclectic artwork (this is personal preference, of course). The three elevator banks reduced crowding a great deal, and passenger flow was excellent, except in the lounges outside the main dining room beginning at 5:50 p.m. The main dining room was a bit noisy, with the tables very close together. There were plenty of lounges and places to sit and relax throughout the ship. We sat out by the pool only one day at sea because there were no wind baffles on the upper decks, and it was almost impossible to walk on deck 11 while the ship was moving. The gym didn't officially open until 7 a.m., which the early risers thought was quite late. The theater was large, with small glass tables for drinks every two seats, but the sightlines for shorter people were partially blocked on deck 5, with the railings behind each row of seats placed almost at eye level. Celebrity prides itself on its lack of announcements, but we thought that policy was taken to the extreme. On the way to Hawaii, there was one announcement each day around noon by Simon Weir describing our location, travel speed, wind speed and notable activities for the day, but only one such announcement on the return. When we arrived at Kauai, we heard an announcement that we would be able to leave the ship within 15 minutes. We heard no announcement for Honolulu, none for Hilo, one for Kona, and none at Maui. When the ship was rocking and pitching in high seas at the beginning of the trip, it would have been nice to hear from someone about the conditions and what we could expect during the upcoming ocean crossing days, but our only information was provided on the GPS channel, which showed the ship's position, the expected high and low temperatures for the day and the wind speed and direction. Cabin 9133 - Concierge Class: This cabin was similar in size but different in layout to Brilliance category D cabins, and there seemed to be less storage space in the main cabin. However, the bathroom took first prize for shower-only bathrooms: plenty of storage, attractive, a comfortable shower with massaging showerhead (we didn't have to get out to pick up dropped soap, but shaving my legs was impossible in the shower as usual), and we especially liked the upgraded towels, amenities and bathrobes. The vase with a single rose or a stem of miniature roses was a lovely touch. We were able to fit all of our suitcases under the bed by nesting them, but it was tough finding a place for our shoes. Closet space was at a premium, but we got everything in. There were large shelves on each side of the desk, which helped, and some slim storage space next to the mirror. It was inconvenient that the telephone/modem was located next to the bed, while the laptop was plugged in across the room on the desk, which meant we needed to be extra careful not to trip over the cord while we were connected to the Internet. I tried three pillows before I made my final selection, and the pillow top eliminated the dreaded abyss between the mattresses. We only had breakfast on the balcony twice, as it was either too cool or too rocky to be out there on sea days, although we did enjoy cocktails with a cheese platter during sail away on several evenings. The large table and padded chairs were convenient, but they didn't leave much room to move around. The overhang shows up in almost every photo we took looking out toward land or the sunset/sunrise, and it blocked the sun, and mainly for those reasons, we would not choose a cabin on deck 9 in the future. As far as noise, we usually heard what we termed "the elephants" around 6:15 a.m. and 11 p.m. We assume they were rolling carts used by the crew in setting up or cleaning up the buffet above us. Other than that, it was relatively quiet. Staff service: The service on Infinity was the best we have experienced thus far. The staff was friendly and helpful, although some offered incorrect information, which is typical. (Some crew members would rather make up an answer than tell you they don't know.) Our cabin steward, Fides, and her assistant were hard-working, always smiling, and always ready to fulfill a request or offer assistance. Our cabin was cleaned every morning while we were at breakfast, and everything was taken care of to our complete satisfaction. Our waiter, Renato, and assistant waiter, Carlos, were also friendly and hard working, and it only took one night for Carlos to learn I was the only person at the table who drank coffee with dessert and preferred milk to cream. Renato learned almost as quickly that Ed is not a fan of most vegetables and would remove the offending ones before serving him. Carrots, potatoes and peas passed muster, but everything else was gone before it hit the table. Service was quick but unobtrusive, and we never felt rushed. Our assistant maitre 'd, Donatu, was fabulous, and even had crème brulees with extra crunchy crusts prepared for our table on the final formal night when we noted the night before that the sugar crust was very thin. Ed played ping pong every day we were at sea and noted that Sandy, who ran practically all of the sports onboard, did a fabulous job. Sandy was even kind enough to send Ed a note thanking him for his participation in the tournaments. Ed was sure to tip him to show our appreciation for his hard work. The photography staff was competent, although the prices for the photos seemed a bit higher than they were on RCI. The guest relations staff was helpful but not warm, the Captain's Club hostess, Elizabeth, was friendly, warm and patient, and the future cruise saleswoman was competent and efficient. Simon Weir, the cruise director, had a great sense of humor, and Peter Maclaren, the bartender in Michael's (now in the Martini Bar), made us feel as if we were old friends from the first night we sat down after dinner. Room service was relatively quick, although they had a tendency to deliver our meals almost 15 minutes early, which is almost as frustrating as having it delivered 15 minutes late. Nevertheless, other than the first morning, our food was warm, if not hot, and we received everything we ordered. Food: The food was really good. There were only two nights in the main dining room that I wasn't pleased with my entrEe (one was an overcooked pork chop and the other an unappetizing spaghetti carbonara), and both times Renato inquired within minutes if I would prefer something else. Ed had the chilled soups almost every night and enjoyed all of them, the meat was always served at our desired level of doneness, the soups were so hot I burned my tongue one night, the vegetables were crisp, and the presentation was lovely. The desserts didn't sound very exciting on the menu, but when Renato would bring around the dessert tray and describe the ingredients, there was always at least one item was I interested in. Ed usually had a dessert served with a scoop of ice cream on the side. On our other six cruises, we ate breakfast and lunch in the main dining room 95% of the time. On Infinity, we ate lunch in the buffet every sea day but one. We ate breakfast every morning in the buffet or through room service. The main reason for this was Celebrity has servers dishing the food and large sneeze guards to protect it (unlike the buffet set up on RCI). These guards didn't stop some passengers from poking their fingers at the food or touching food they subsequently didn't take, but it stopped most. The offerings were varied, the food was warm, and there were two ways to approach the main buffet on each side, reducing crowding during peak times. The waffle and omelet stations at breakfast were a big hit, as were the pasta and sandwich stations at lunch. I never made it to the sushi bar at dinner time, and we never ate upstairs at dinner, so I can't comment on service or food quality at that time. We also never ate at the Aqua Spa cafe, although our tablemates did almost every day for lunch and greatly enjoyed it. The pizza and hamburgers from the grill by the pool were tasty and hot. We ate in the SS United States four times. The first time was a disaster, as we waited 30 minutes between our appetizer and entrEe, 45 minutes between the entrEe and cheese course, and another 30 minutes for dessert. We had to request our bill three times before we could leave, and after two hours and 45 minutes in a half-empty restaurant, we vowed we would not return on our own. We had already agreed to have dinner with a couple who were celebrating their anniversary and decided we would not skip that. However, we cancelled our final reservation, after which we were contacted by the maitre 'd, Dominque. He actually sat down with us, apologized for the problems we experienced, explained how he was rectifying the situation, and asked us to give them another chance. We agreed to reinstate our reservation and said we would see how things went at the anniversary dinner. Obviously, everything went fabulously. The service was 100% better and the time between courses was reduced to 20-30 minutes. Subsequently, we invited our tablemates to join us at our second reservation and shared dinner with the anniversary couple once again on our last night onboard. The food was delicious, especially the goat cheese soufflE, the chilled soup, the rack of lamb and the veal. The chocolate soufflE was a little too runny the night I had it, but the Grand Marnier soufflE we were offered on our last night was perfect. On the nights we dined, the restaurant was far from full, although we heard there were nights when they were at capacity. In our opinion, the service and food in the United States are excellent, but they are in direct competition with the main dining room, something we have not found in previous experiences. On other ships, the food and service were so much better in the specialty restaurants that we were tempted to eat there every night. In this case, we simply enjoyed the quieter atmosphere and the opportunity to dine alone or with a different couple. In the future, we will likely limit our specialty dining on Celebrity to one or two nights. Entertainment: We never heard the pool band, as it was too windy, too cool, too rocky or we were too busy to sit out there. Hunani, the Hawaiian entertainer, was very good, playing Hawaiian music throughout the ship, teaching the hula, and leading the lei making class. We missed or skipped most of the shows, either because of the movement of the ship (the theater is at the bow), lack of interest or lack of desire to leave Michael's. We saw the two comedians and the illusionist. We heard the pianist was excellent and the production shows were good but didn't see them. We missed all the lectures, although I tried to attend one on a sea day that was held in the theater, but I had to leave after 10 minutes. We enjoyed the piano player in Michael's and the duo in the Rendez-vous lounge playing dance music before dinner. In fact, we would often go down to the lounge at 5:15 and watch passengers dance before going in for dinner. The Cruise Critic party was held on the first day at sea on deck 11 at the bow, and consequently fewer than the 250+ registered members attended. Some arrived only to leave moments later (we were among them). Another party was held on the last full day onboard, but we missed it. We heard it was the largest Cruise Critic gathering thus far. Internet access: We are among what seems to be a growing group of passengers who do some work online while they travel. Therefore, Internet access is important to us. We were vaguely aware of the Internet access cost on Infinity before we boarded, but the reality was startling: $25 per 24 hours with 50 minutes of Internet access included. Overage was billed at $0.75 per minute. With top speeds of 49.2 Kbps, we spent an inordinate amount of time watching the clock and trying to determine how to get our work done in the shorter possible time. We voiced our concerns to the representative of High Seas Computing, the company that runs the computer services for Celebrity, and while he was sympathetic, he suggested we take our complaint directly to Celebrity. It was our only complaint on our comment form, and we intend to follow up with a letter to RCI. Our experience on Brilliance and Adventure was $100 for a 7-night cruise and $125 for a 10-night cruise with unlimited Internet access. Granted, the speeds ranged from 24 Kbps to about 48 Kbps, but we had 24 hours each day to get done what we had to do. We understand that Internet access is an income generator for Celebrity, but it is difficult to justify these costs to our businesses, and if we can't do one to two hours of business each day while we cruise at a reasonable cost, we have to factor that into our choice of cruise line. We hope Celebrity will consider making its Internet access costs more reasonable and encourage anyone who finds these charges excessive to share that opinion with RCI. The Hawaiian Islands: There is so much to see and do on these beautiful islands that it would take a separate review to do this trip justice. Suffice it to say that we rented a car at every port except Maui, and only managed to see about half of what we hoped to see. Highlights included Waimea Canyon, the Arizona Memorial, the North Shore of Oahu, Volcano National Park and coffee tasting/shopping on the Kona Coast. We enjoyed Hawaii much more than the Caribbean islands and look forward to going back. One note: it seemed that 90% of the passengers renting cars rented from Alamo, so be prepared for long waits for shuttles and long lines at the check-in counter, especially on Kauai. Hertz, Alamo, National and Thrifty had shuttles at every port, but Avis did not. We noticed Budget and Dollar shuttles at a few of the ports. Embarkation/Disembarkation: As previously mentioned, embarkation was a breeze and took a total of 10 minutes. When our color (purple 1, the second group) was called (announced using a microphone in the Rendez-Vous lounge, not over the loudspeakers) for disembarkation, we faced a 10-minute wait on deck 3 to leave the ship and then moved very quickly through customs. We found our luggage easily, waited five minutes for a taxi and then stood online outside at the airport for 45 minutes to check in for Delta. (We heard the lines inside were worse.) We thought we would be sitting around the airport for hours having departed the ship at 9 a.m. for a noon flight, but we didn't get to the gate until 11:00 - and the airport is only five minutes from the ship. I recommend allowing at least three hours for this process and am glad we didn't schedule a flight before 11 a.m. Overall, Celebrity moves into the number one spot on our short list of cruise companies (RCI and Princess are the other two we've sailed). The Internet costs may turn out to be a deal breaker for us, but we've booked a cruise on Summit for 2006 and will lobby to get those fees reduced in the meantime. If RCI moved Brilliance to the Celebrity fleet and upgraded its service and food to Infinity's level while maintaining the dEcor, entertainment and Internet access fees, we would sail her exclusively (well, almost). We are still looking forward to our Mediterranean cruise on Brilliance in June 2005, but we'll miss the extra special touches that Celebrity offers. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
There is something magical about a cruise vacation, especially when you are looking forward to meeting over 250 people you have been corresponding with for over a year on Cruise Critic. Therefore, when Gerald and I (ages 52 and 50) saw ... Read More
There is something magical about a cruise vacation, especially when you are looking forward to meeting over 250 people you have been corresponding with for over a year on Cruise Critic. Therefore, when Gerald and I (ages 52 and 50) saw Infinity cruising slowly up to the pier in San Diego on a rainy Sunday, December 5 for our 15 day round-trip cruise to Hawaii, we knew we were in for a special trip. Having just returned, I can only say that we were not disappointed! Embarkation and Disembarkation Embarkation was pretty much a painless experience. Although we were not scheduled to board the ship until 3 p.m., we arrived around 1 p.m. and were able to check in quickly and efficiently. Since a number of people had arrived at the port even earlier, and the ship had just pulled into port, we did have to wait for about 20 minutes before we were allowed to board. Somewhat unusually for those of us accustomed to boarding a bit early, our staterooms were ready immediately and there were plenty of people available to escort us to our staterooms (along with lots of champagne). In this case, however, we had something of an unusual itinerary. Celebrity had been running one-way cruises from Ensenada, Mexico (70 miles south of San Diego) to Hawaii and back. Therefore, the prior cruise had terminated in Ensenada the morning of our cruise and, during the two to three hour trip to San Diego to pick us up, the staff had plenty of chance to prepare everything and was available for early embarkation. This was a nice treat. It was also nice to be able to avoid what I understand is a rather nasty bus trip between Ensenada and San Diego that was required on the one-way cruises to and from Hawaii (required by the Jones act since none of the Celebrity ships are US flagged). Apparently, they were able to do the round trip out of San Diego on our cruise due to a technicality. One of the officers indicated that, on paper, our cruise started in Ensenada, even though we were not picked up until San Diego. As a result, on the way back, we had to spend one hour in Ensenada doing Mexican paperwork (about 10 o'clock at night), something called a "technical Port call." Whatever the reason, both the embarkation and disembarkation were in San Diego, particularly convenient since the airport is less than 10 minutes away from the cruise terminal. Disembarkation was a little bit more problematic since there was a bit of a delay getting off of the ship (I am not sure of the reason). Our color was scheduled to meet in the Martini Bar at 8:30 a.m., to be directed off of the ship from there. We did not actually leave until almost 9:45 a.m. Still, it was a much more relaxing experience than on other cruises, if only because there were not constant loud announcements. Also, because of the nature of our cruise, we did not have much problem clearing customs. We simply handed our customs declaration to the officer who met us as we disembarked. Our luggage was easily available, we flagged down a porter who took us right to a taxi. And there was no wait for a cab! This is similar to our last experience disembarking in San Diego. This has to be one of the best cruise venues anywhere. Stateroom We were lucky enough to have one of the coveted aft cabins with the extra large balcony. This was a Concierge Class stateroom on the Sky Deck (deck nine) #9162. This is one of my all-time favorite cabins, despite the fact that, when sitting out on the balcony, you could sometimes hear the noise of scraping chairs from the outside dining above and, once in a while, when it was very windy, a few small scraps of paper would be blown down onto that deck. The annoyances were, however, extremely minor compared to the advantages. First of all, the aft Concierge Class cabins on Celebrity's Millennium class ships all have oversized balconies, large enough to accommodate a large table with two padded chairs as well as two padded lounge chairs, each with its own small table (with plenty of room left over). Although the deck nine aft cabins are completely covered, making opportunities to "sun" on the balcony limited to early in the day or late in the day (depending on the direction of travel), we did not find this to be a problem since there are plenty of other places on the ship to find sun if desired. We also found the view from the aft cabins of the ship's wake to be very relaxing. Additionally, we loved the amenities of Concierge Class. It was wonderful to be greeted by a bottle of champagne and fresh flowers in both the bathroom and the main cabin. There are upgraded toiletries and (one of my favorite amenities) a real handheld hair dryer in addition to the wall-mounted version that I have always found to be pretty much useless. We also had a very nice down filled duvet on the bad, a padded, comfortable mattress and a choice of various types of pillows (including a body pillow—heaven!). The room service menu for breakfast is also upgraded. Even though you can order anything that you want in the regular cabins simply by writing and on the room service menu, it is nice to simply be able to check off your selections (especially when you are filling out the form after an evening of Martinis). Besides, the granola berry parfait is absolutely wonderful as are the smoothies that are also available on the menu, items that I never would have thought of requesting had they not been written down. Bottom line, no significant complaints at all about the cabin. Well, maybe one. We had fairly heavy seas for most of the cruise and the sliding doors to the balcony did not want to stay open. We found this out the hard way. On the first sea day, we left the balcony door open and went outside to sit. Next thing we knew, it had closed with such a crash that it triggered the locking mechanism, effectively and literally locking us out on our balcony. Fortunately, the people next door were in their cabin and after leaning around the balcony, waving and screaming their name, they took our room key and, after quite a bit of jostling, were finally able to free us. After that, we used one of the lounge chairs to make sure the doors stayed open. Later on, one of the officers told us that this was not that uncommon an occurrence. A couple of cruises prior, there was a young lady sunbathing topless on her deck when something very similar occurred. Very embarrassing for all concerned, I am sure. Cruise Critic It is my understanding that we had the largest Cruise Critic group ever assembled on the Celebrity ships with over 250 people signed up for the party! Considering the fact that we had over 3000 posts on our thread before we left (not including the postings on the original thread on the old Cruise Critic board), this does not surprise me. Some of us had already met before the cruise, including a number of us here in San Diego, so this cruise felt more like a reunion than a group of strangers meeting for the first time. Our first party was not the "official" Cruise Critic party of the first day of the cruise, however. We had all arranged to meet in the Constellation Lounge at 5 p.m. on the date of departure, thinking that there would be no conflict with the muster drill since embarkation continued until 8:30 p.m. Surprisingly, however, the muster drill was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., so that first party was rather brief. However, all was not lost! Donald and Cynthia, who were in one of the penthouse suites, kindly issued an invitation to those of us who posted on the thread to a sailaway party that first night at 8 p.m. Not only was it a wonderful chance to sneak a peak at the beautiful penthouse suite, it was a chance to meet a lot of the fellow Cruise Critics we would party with for the next 15 days. Our incredibly gracious hosts provided us with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and the ship's photographer even took a picture of all of us that could squeeze onto the balcony (apparently, he talked his way into one of the balcony cabins on the deck above, giving him an ideal vantage point for the photograph). And all of this was before dinner! We had more Cruise Critic parties onboard, including a couple of informal get-togethers. As I mentioned, the first "official" party was on our first sea day, Monday. This was attended by the cruise director, Simon Weir, as well as other staff members. A lot of people were rather surprised that Simon did make a formal presentation at this first party. However, when we talked to him afterward, it turns out that he had literally gotten on Infinity right before sailaway after a 23-hour flight and was seriously jetlagged and tired. He more than made up for it, however, when he set up a second "official" party on our last day at sea that included yet another portrait. Because there were so many people, we had to line up on two decks, both on the pool deck and above, with the ship's photographer standing clear to the other side of the deck! Quite a sight, I am sure, to those few diehards who were out in bathing suits sunning themselves in our 65-degree windy weather. Overall, Celebrity did a very nice job of accommodating all of us and making sure that our large group was recognized and pampered. Staff members For us, we found the service to be uniformly good to excellent. Our cabin attendant, Caetano, and his assistant did a superb job of keeping our cabin tidy and making certain that we always had fresh flowers and fresh fruit. In the dining room, our waiter, Ace Malabar, and his assistant, Carlos, were terrific. This was the first time that I had a waiter who performed a card tricks, napkin folding and other jokes for our amusement, and it was a lot of fun. It was also a nice counterpoint to the SS United States, the specialty restaurant where we dined on five nights out of the 15 nights of the cruise, where the service is very European and more reserved (more about that below). We also enjoyed the activities staff, especially Adriana, who conducted several sessions of trivia and Karaoke with a very dry sense of humor. Of course, everyone's favorite was the cruise director, Simon. He had just come over from Summit and he is truly one of the finest (and funniest) cruise directors I have seen. We had the chance to have coffee with him one day and he gave us some idea of the true scope of his job. I had never realized how much of the management the cruise director has to do behind the scenes in addition to having a public presence and make everyone feel as though they are being personally welcomed. He seemed to be open, accessible and always around somewhere, unlike many cruises I have taken where the cruise director seemed to be invisible except at shows. Infinity is lucky to have him. Entertainment We did not really take advantage of the production shows, so I cannot venture an opinion. The party band, Vibz, was splendid with tons of energy. The Analog Quartet played classical music many afternoons in the Cova Cafe. They were very good. My only complaint is that their regular listeners seemed to consider their performances to be akin to a recital and, on one occasion, got very huffy with four of us having cocktails together and laughing because we were "interfering" with music that was supposed to be in accompaniment to our cocktails. Go figure. We just moved away from them and continued to talk and laugh. We did see one of the comedians, Clinton Jackson, who was funny, but a bit nervous since he had never even been on a cruise ship before and had gotten the gig only two days before he boarded in Hawaii. I think he will improve with time although a lot of people either left or seemed to be falling asleep. Our favorite entertainer was Haunani, a beautiful Hawaiian lady who sang regularly, either on the pool deck, in the Cova Cafe, or aft in the Oceanview Cafe at sunset. She had a lovely voice, a warm sense of humor and probably the nicest smile I have seen anywhere. She also gave lectures on Hawaiian culture, taught hula dancing (which, to my regret, I missed), lei making, the Hawaiian language, etc. She seemed to be one of the hardest working people on the boat, but was always stopping to greet people, chatting, telling stories, etc. Aloha, Haunai, wherever you are! May our paths cross again. The only truly bad entertainment was the "Mr. Jones and Me" duo who played in the Rendezvous Lounge many evenings for dancing and listening. To give you an idea, when we first heard them, my husband turned to me and said something to the effect of "I did not know they were having Karaoke tonight." He was completely serious. In fact, some of the Karaoke performers sounded better. They were one of the few unexceptional parts of our cruise. Food Good to excellent. The fish in the dining room was uniformly moist and nicely flavored (although it tended to be a bit on the bland side one occasion). We stuck either to fish or to the vegetarian menu, but the beef eaters at the table seemed to really like their selections and commented that it was prepared the way they asked. The portions were small, but seconds were available upon request. The chicken was variable. It was good on some nights and tough other nights. I cannot remember what the table mate next to me ordered one night, but it was really, really tough (it might have been lamb). That was the only thing that I saw anyone send back. As for the vegetarian menu, some of the selections were absolutely wonderful and some were kind of icky. It seemed to have more variation in quality than the regular menu, but overall was not bad. Most of the appetizers were excellent (especially the mushroom concoction they served on the first night and the spinach and cheese turnover). Salads were indifferent, but the Celebrity dressing was absolutely terrific as were some of the other dressings. Desserts were pretty good although nothing struck me as particularly outstanding. As for the other dining options, the sushi bar was very good. On prior cruises, the rice has sometimes been a bit dried out. This was not the case this time. Also, I really loved the teatime selections of sandwiches and sweets, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Although my husband thought I was insane, two of my favorite tea sandwiches were the cheddar cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches and the sardine salad sandwiches. They always had a wide assortment, so do not worry if my taste seems a little odd. In the main part of the buffet, pasta was often available outside of regular dining hours, cooked to order and excellent. For some reason, we never seemed to eat at the usual hours, so we only patronized the buffet at lunchtime on one occasion. It was OK, nothing outstanding. The room service menu other than for breakfast is pretty meager with a very few unimaginative selections (tuna salad, roast beef sandwiches and a few other things). One night, however, we ordered pizza to the room and that was not bad at all (although it is kind of strange to receive a little four inch individual pizza in a big eight inch box -- we took a picture because it was so funny looking). Gerald and I dined on five occasions in the SS United States, the specialty restaurant, which has a surcharge of $30 per person (most of that was paid by our on board credit for being RCI shareholders). This was not because we did not like our table mates, but we like to eat by ourselves on occasion since we do not get too much chance for "alone time" during most of the year. This was an incredible experience. The maitre 'd, Dominique Gamboa, along with the head chef, Milos, went out of their way to accommodate our dining preferences (we do not eat shellfish or meat). After our first night, they started making special fish dishes for us, including one memorable evening when they prepared fish tableside, including a very complicated sauce made at the table from scratch that was absolutely divine. Probably some of the best food I have had anywhere. Dominique told us that he was willing to accommodate just about any request with a little bit of notice so that he could prepare. I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant, the food quality and the service! Shore excursions and the islands Our first stop was at Nawiliwili on the island of Kauai. We had booked the Na Pali Coast Raft Adventure through the ship, but were advised that, in light of 20 to 30 foot swells on that side of the island, they were going to need to head to the other side of the island. They offered an immediate refund to anyone who wished it and a 20 percent discount to those of us who decided to go along on the revised tour (the 20 percent was credited to our account by the time we got back to the ship). Most people chose to take the tour and it was absolutely splendid. The guide was extremely familiar with the wildlife in the area and, even though we did not see the spectacular scenery of the Na Pali Coast, she pointed out quite a number of interesting features and managed to find a pod of spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins and at least one other variety of dolphin. They remained alongside the boat playing for at least 10 minutes. She also found large numbers of sea turtles, most of them very close to the boat and the snorkeling was wonderful. We did try to go whale watching, but as the afternoon wore on, the sea was getting very rough. The pontoons on the boat were definitely up to the job and most of us enjoyed bouncing through the waves, but there were a few people who were looking a little green by the time we got back to shore. All in all, a really gorgeous day. The next day was Honolulu. Nothing really sounded exciting in terms of shore excursions, so Gerald and I decided to stay on the ship until after lunch. We took some pictures from the Aloha Tower and walked over to the statute of King Kamehameha, across from the Iolani Palace. On the way, I found an older building that had some incredibly beautiful tile work and we spent a while just poking around the streets. We had a late lunch at a brewery next to the ship and listened to music for a couple of hours. When we returned to the boat, it was getting late and we decided to have pizza on our balcony ordered from room service. Just by chance, it turned out that the Christmas boat parade was in the bay behind us that evening, giving us ringside seats for the show. Just wonderful! My favorite port was Hilo. I had arranged a helicopter tour through Safari Aviation and they promptly picked us up at the agreed upon time (about $30 per person less than the same excursion arranged through the ship, with no real danger of missing the boat since the airport is only about 10 minutes from the ship). The sightseeing on Hilo is mostly of the volcano, Kilauea, which is actively erupting. The power of nature is awe-inspiring! The helicopter ride was also billed as a waterfall tour, but if you are interested in waterfalls, do the helicopter ride on Kauai, since these were beautiful but not terribly impressive. The volcano was definitely the star of this show, along with the beautiful view of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, both of which were visible that day, a very unusual occurrence in this often rainy city. The town of Hilo itself was what made this port my favorite. It is by no means a tourist town. We had a wonderful lunch of incredibly fresh fish, purchased across the street at the fish market just that morning. There were some lovely little art galleries where we purchased a couple of pieces of art for our "cruise wall" (we pick up one or two small pieces of art for one of the walls in our bedroom every time we cruise) and were able to purchase a beautiful arrangement of fresh flowers at the farmer's market for only five dollars. The woman who sold them to us had picked them out of her backyard that morning. Pretty amazing since the same arrangement back on the mainland would have cost well over $50. One thing to note -- when you get off the boat, there is a market in the cruise terminal where you can buy an arrangement of Hawaiian flowers for $10. This looks like an amazing deal (especially if you are familiar with the stateside prices) and the arrangements really are beautiful. However, keep in mind that you can buy an arrangement twice the size for half the price at the farmer's market in town. Either way, the arrangements stayed fresh and beautiful for the rest of the cruise. The bus to town was only one dollar, quite a bargain. On our next stop, Kona, we also chose to book a tour through the ship. This was a raft excursion and snorkeling adventure. This was one of our favorite excursions. There was a 45 minute ride on an inflatable out to the site where we went snorkeling. On the way, we saw the first and only whales of the trip (it was a bit early in the season). Our Captain identified them as a mother and her calf that had been in the area all day. Beautiful! The snorkeling site itself was the site where Captain Cook was killed and had a huge number of fish, some of which were quite large. We literally saw just about every fish on the fish identification card that the Captain had on the boat. After snorkeling, we were served fresh fruit including some of the best pineapple I have ever had and, since the water was calm, we were able to use the inflatable to explore some of the caves close to shore. Again, a terrific day. The only disappointing port was Maui. Most of the disappointment had to do with the fact that we were only there until 3:00 p.m., so there was not much time to do any real exploring. Gerald and I decided to just take a late tender into Lahaina for lunch and shopping. It was a pretty city, but very commercial. Having been to Maui before, I know that there are a lot of things to do on the island and that there are some beautiful areas, but you need a little more time than we had. Also, either get back to the tender dock before about 1 p.m. or so or plan on a LONG tender line. We got back at 2:30 and could not even SEE the end of the line. All is not lost, though. There is a very convenient bar across from the dock from which you can watch the progress of the line. It was about a 3-beer line, I estimate. By the time it got to a reasonable length, it was after 3:30 and we were feeling VERY relaxed. Miscellaneous notes and conclusion While neither of us purchased any alcohol on shore, I did not see anyone have a problem bringing it back with one exception. Apparently, someone decided to "sneak" vodka or some other clear liquor back on to the boat in a water bottle. They were told that this was not permissible. When the passenger questioned how they could tell without even opening the bottle, the security guard gave a demonstration, shaking the bottle with liquor and another bottle that contained only water. They looked very different after shaking! Keep this in mind if you decide to try this little trick (I have seen people on the boards recommend this). Remember to take a photo ID on shore in addition to your cruise card. You will need both to get on and off the ship. Security was fairly stringent but everyone was very polite. We did not rent a car or plan to rent a car at any of the ports, but those who did indicated that it was something of a hassle in many cases. One couple indicated that they had to wait quite some time for a shuttle to take them to the car rental location. They would usually allow just the driver in the shuttle, meaning that the passengers had to wait for an hour or more until the driver had finished the paperwork, been given the car and come back to get them. It was only worth it when the ship was in port for a relatively long day. OK, this review is now more than long enough. I am running out of superlatives. Bottom line, this was one of the best cruises we have ever taken, not just because of the ship, not just because of the ports, but also (and mostly) because of the wonderful people we met on the ship, including our Cruise Critic friends. We still miss everyone and would cruise with the same group again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
INFINITY Hawaii Round Trip from San Diego December 5 to December 20 By Shari Our Background: We are a married couple, retired early, and we were traveling with my sister-in-law and her husband. This was cruise number 8 for us and ... Read More
INFINITY Hawaii Round Trip from San Diego December 5 to December 20 By Shari Our Background: We are a married couple, retired early, and we were traveling with my sister-in-law and her husband. This was cruise number 8 for us and number 2 for our friends. This was our 3rd cruise on Celebrity and our friends 2nd. Our ages range from the 40s to the 60s. Flight to San Diego: Our flight was arranged by Celebrity, and we had no problem with the flight to San Diego. We flew on Delta. We changed planes in Salt Lake City, Utah. San Diego Stay: We stayed at the Sheraton Marina Hotel. We have stayed there before, and we were happy with the arrangements. We did think, though, that the rooms we had last time in the West tower were newer and nicer. The hotel was decorated for Christmas with a beautiful large tree and many other decorations. It was beautiful! When we arrived in San Diego on Friday evening, December 3rd, it was in the low 60s, and sunny. The very next day it turned chilly and it rained off and on all day. Saturday, we took the Trolly tour and rode theTrolly most of the day to places like, Old Town, the Gaslight district, Balboa Park and the Zoo area, Coronado hotel and beach area, etc. The Trolly is a great way to see San Diego. You can get on and off wherever you want and pick up the next one to continue the tour. We bought our tickets ($20 pp for all day) at the hotel and got a ride to Seaport Village where we started our tour. My brother-in-law wanted to get off and shop at the last minute in the Gaslight district, and I felt bad because of the quick decision, I didn't have time to tip the Trolley tour guide, but we did have her again at the end of the day, and we had a chance to talk to her. She was great, as were most of the others. Embarkation: We had a transfer by bus from our hotel to the pier, and all went smoothly. They handled our luggage, and we got to the pier around 1:30 or 2 pm. The ship didn't sail till 9 pm, but we were onboard within around a half-hour. Embarkation went very smooth. They had snacks available in the terminal, but embarkation went so fast that we didn't have a chance to grab anything. Once onboard, we were given the choice of champagne or orange juice and led to our room by a white-gloved steward. Nice touch Celebrity! There was a nice luncheon buffet available for all. In the evening we sat at our assigned tables. The Ship: We had been on the Infinity once before, so we already knew our way around. The Infinity is a beautiful, very clean, well kept, and very classy ship. It carries around 2000 passengers, but it never really seems crowded. The ship has the usual night-clubs, bars, and theaters. The main show room, the Celebrity Theater, is two-story and has good site lines. Infinity has a wonderful Aqua Spa, sauna, and a Thalassotherapy pool. I did not use any of these great amenities, but others said they were wonderful. There is no charge for the Thalassotherapy pool on the Infinity. There is also a very large gymnasium with a sea view for those who wish to work off the calories from all the good food. There is a very good size pool and whirlpool on resort deck. My husband says that there is a walking track, too, but there's plenty of walking just from forward to aft on a ship this size. The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays! Sail-Away Party: There were around 250 members of Cruise Critic on this cruise, and we were invited to a sail-away party in the Penthouse Suite. Our hosts were wonderful people, and it was a great start to the cruise. We met many wonderful people on this cruise which helped to make it so special. Our Room: We had a balcony guarantee which turned out to be room 8011 which was forward of the ship. There were only two other passenger rooms ahead of us. The room has plenty of drawer space and a good amount of closet space, but for me, on a 15 night cruise, I could have used a bit more closet space. There was room under the bed to store the suitcases. There was a glass table and a loveseat (which made into a bed) next to the balcony, and there was a dresser with mirror, also. The balcony had a small table and two chairs. We were happy with our room. Room Steward: Our room steward, Wilbert, was excellent. We asked for extra washcloths and to raise the head of my bed a bit, and he did both. He always had the extra washcloths, and the room was kept spotless even though I liked to sleep in on sea days. Our ice bucket was always full and our water pitcher was always full. We were very pleased with our room steward. Room Service: I only ordered room service once, but I had a nice chef salad brought to me by my own room steward. The salad actually had more meat and cheese on it than I needed. You can order the same dinner they are serving in the dining room in the evenings, I have heard, but we always ate in the dining room in the evenings. The Weather: The first few days out of San Diego were a bit chilly, and we had some rough seas. The captain said we had the tail end of a storm. Marc, my husband, thought it was the typhoon from the Philippines. Not sure about that, but, many were a bit seasick the first few days, including me. The weather stayed a bit chilly till we got close to Hawaii, and then you saw everyone out on pool deck soaking up the much awaited sun. Kauai was our first port, and it was very windy that day. Other than that, we had excellent weather in Hawaii. It was in the low 80s with sunshine for the other ports. It stayed warm for the first two days leaving Hawaii, and then it got chilly again. It was too chilly to stay out on deck the last two days returning to San Diego. The Food: The food in the Trellis dining room was for the most part, excellent, in my opinion. All the beef dishes I had were of the best quality and well prepared. I did have a problem at first in getting my steaks medium rare, but after I asked my waiter to be sure to bring it medium rare, I always got it medium rare. The fish dishes I had were excellent. I had a scallop dish that was wonderful. The scallops were so fresh and lightly done. I had a seafood brochette one evening that consisted of, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and cod (I think) and it was great. The lamb that I had was excellent. We did have lobster on the last formal night. It was good, but I wasn't as impressed with it. I could have ordered another one or even two, but didn't need to. The deserts were wonderful. My favorite is still the crème brulee and Celebrity's own home-made pistachio ice cream. The soups were, as always, excellent. I never made it to breakfast or lunch in the dining room. I usually ate at the buffet. I was not as impressed with the buffets as I used to be. On my first Celebrity cruise on the Zenith in 1992, the buffets had food almost as good as the dining room and better than food in the dining room on other ships that I have been on. The food on the buffets was good, but I did notice some cutbacks. There doesn't seem to be as many choices as usual for one. The food was still very good, just not as good as on past cruises on the buffet. They offered hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and pizza from 12 noon till 6 PM on pool deck. From 6 PM till 1AM they had pizza and pasta bar. They also had a sushi bar. Every afternoon at 4 PM they had afternoon tea with wonderful little sandwiches and pastries. It was hard to go hungry on this ship. They also have a healthy dining buffet in the Aqua Spa area, which is now open from noon till 8 PM. I almost forgot, they have a waffle station in the very aft of the ship which makes wonderful homemade Belgian-type waffles in the morning. They also have an omelet station for made-to-order omelets in the morning. From 12 to 3 PM they offered soup, salad, and sandwiches besides the regular buffet lunch. They have a nice area called the Cova Cafe which offers coffees and coffee drinks and pastries. The gourmet coffees have a charge, but the pastries were complimentary. Celebrity brings around hors d'oeuvres (Gourmet Bites) at around 11:30 PM for people to enjoy in the lounges. They did have a few themed midnight buffets, like Hawaiian, chocolate, deserts and crepes, and fruits. On the last formal night, they had the Grand Buffet which was amazing. We didn't eat, because we had late seating, but we did take some photos. The SS United States is a specialty restaurant that you might want to try. The experience is wonderful, and the food is excellent. Some suggestions to order... for appetizers: Goat Cheese SoufflE, and the Caesar Salad which is tossed at your table. Entrees: Rack of Lamb, and the Steak Dianne which is flamed at your table. For dessert, try the Chocolate SoufflE. There is a $30 pp cover charge for this restaurant, but the $30 is for the tip. I, personally, thought our food and service in the Trellis restaurant was almost as good, so we only went once to the specialty restaurant. Again, it's very hard to go hungry on this ship. Great food! Cocktails: I usually just have one or two here or there, but I have to mention a great drink that I happened upon one day in the Martini Bar. It's called a Crème Brulee Martini. It's great! It's not cheap, but it's worth it! I think the only other drink I had was an occasional Pina Colada topped with Meyer's rum, and a White Russian. Oops, I forgot about the BBC. That was good! Once or twice, I had a glass of Chardonnay with dinner, and it was great. There is an automatic 15% tip added to all drinks. Waiters and Assistant Waiters: Our waiter in the Trellis restaurant was Sasa(sp?), and our assistant waiter was Eduardo. They were both excellent! Everything was served on time and the way it should be served. We always had our water filled and anything we asked for was eagerly brought to us. We had a great time with them. We had great tablemates! We had a husband and wife from a small town in England, and we had two ladies, friends, who were cruising together and who were members of Cruise Critic. We had a wonderful time with them, and it made the whole experience very special and memorable. Maitre d': I have to mention the maitre d' because, she was amazing! She was at our table, and everyone else's it seemed, every evening. She was so concerned that we would have everything that we wanted and the way that we wanted it. She was the best! She took time to talk to us all, and to make sure we were happy with everything. She also told us of things that we shouldn't miss that would be happening on the ship. I think her name was Dominique. Casino: There is a good size casino, and my husband did pretty well with the slots. He came out $1200 ahead. I didn't do so well, but, I still came out ahead, because he shared a little of his winnings with me. This made me able to give a little extra to my room steward and my waiters who helped to make this trip so great. On Board Activities: I was pleased to see that Celebrity has added more activities for the sea days. There were many things to do to occupy your time. They had lecturers, and culinary demonstrations, tango lessons, wine tasting, computer classes, golf lessons, hair care seminars, face-lift seminars, skin-care classes, line-dance class, photo seminar, ice carving, much, more, and the usual trivia games, pool games, karaoke, bingo, and shuffleboard, etc. Entertainment: I thought the entertainment ranged from very good to excellent. The big production shows that I saw were excellent. The singers and dancers were very good, and the costumes were very colorful. The two comedians, I thought, were good, but not great. I did appreciate that they kept it clean. I missed the illusion and magic show which I heard was very good. One person that I have to mention was an international pianist named Brooks Aehron. His first show was a mixture of comedy(Victor Borge style)jazz, rock, and classical. The next day he put on a classical concert. He was fabulous, and he received a standing ovation. He was so popular that Celebrity found some time for him to put on another classical concert. He was just excellent. He was more serious with the classical concerts, but one thing that he did that I liked was that he told us a bit of the story behind the composer and the piece that he was playing. He had some CDs for sale after the concert, and the line was quite long. He signed the CDs for us, and he was just the nicest man. He was great! One thing I have to mention about the entertainment schedule that I don't care for is that some of the shows for the late diners are put on early at 7 PM. I had to miss a few shows because of this. I book late seating for dining for many reasons. Some of them being not wanting to miss sail-aways and not wanting to rush back from ports to dress up for dinner, etc. I wish Celebrity would change this or find a better solution. There was entertainment in the other lounges that also was very good. They had a great A Cappella group and another nice duo in another lounge. The party band was Vibz. They were good, but I didn't like them as well as Onyx, the band on our last Celebrity cruise. I thought it was kind of strange for them to play country- western music one day at a sail-away from Hawaii. I like country-western...it just didn't fit the moment...in my opinion. There was a Hawaiian singer before them, on pool deck, but it was kind of hard to hear her unless you were right up there with her. Internet: The internet cafe is very nice, but a little pricey, I think. The cost is .75 per minute. This can add up fast. Still...it's nice to have available. Ports: Our ports were: Kauai, Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, and Maui. We had all been to Hawaii before so we didn't book any ship's tours except the submarine tour in Kona. Nawiliwili, Kauai...We just stepped off the ship and saw some cabs waiting, and we took a cab tour, it was in a van, with a young lady. We set our price before we left. We had a great tour of the island. Honolulu...My husband and my brother-in-law wanted to climb Diamond Head, and we gals were not that anxious to exert ourselves, so we did what a lot of women would do...we went shopping. While the guys were climbing the mountain, we took a free bus to Hilo Hattie's (the bus was across the street from the terminal) and from there, we were able to get a free shuttle down Waikiki. We stopped at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for a bit, and we stopped at the Ala Moana shopping center. We met up with the guys at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel(the pink one)at the Mai-Tai bar on the beach area. I was going to be searching for the best mai-tai in Hawaii, but as it happened this was the only one I had... but it was great. Thanks to Linda, Cruise Diva, for telling me about it. Hilo...We took a cab to the old section of town and wandered around. We had breakfast, and then we toured the tsunami museum. From there we hailed another cab, and we took a tour of the island with him. We went to some of the beaches and some of the pretty areas, and to the Macadamia Nut farm. We had a nice tour around the island. We left Hilo around 6 PM, and from the ship at around 10:30 PM we saw the lava flow down the mountainside. It was magnificent! Kailua, Kona...This was the only tour that was booked onboard the ship. Our guys went on the submarine tour in Kona. They did really enjoy it! I'm a bit claustrophobic, and submarines aren't my thing, or my sister-in-law's, so again, we went shopping. We walked along the shore and stopped at the many shops. We met up with the guys later and stopped for a drink and some appetizers. We had some great calamari, and some great mushrooms with scallops at an open restaurant(Cassandra's) on the waterfront. We tendered ashore here. Lahaina, Maui...This was our last stop. We didn't have much time here, and we had to tender ashore, so we got going as early as we could. With me not being an early bird, that meant, after breakfast, around 9 AM. Maui is my favorite island, and I was a bit disappointed that we had so little time here. When I first booked this cruise, the time here was listed from 7AM till 11 PM, but it was later changed. Oh well, we made the best of it and had a great day. We took a taxi tour with a young lady. I suggested that we go to Iao Valley Rainforest or State Park area. We were there before, and it's a beautiful area. We also visited the Maui Tropical Plantation area and some pretty beach areas. Surf was really up on some of the islands, and some of the best surfers in the world were in Hawaii. Maui seems to be much more populated than it was on our last trip 13 years ago. It's still a beautiful island, though. We got back to the dock area to get the tender back to the ship around 1:45, and the line to get on the tender was around a mile long. Not much exaggeration here! The last tender was to leave at 2:30, so I think everyone had the same idea to be here at the same time. It was around 84 degrees and the sun was hot. I have had heat exhaustion before from being in the direct sun for too long, so I suggested to my husband that we should wait at the open restaurant hotel (Pioneer Inn, the old whaling hotel) that was right in front of the security area where you boarded the tenders, and when the line was coming to an end we could just go and get in the line, with no standing in the hot sun for an hour. He didn't go for it, though. I think he was afraid they would just leave at 2:30 and leave all the people there. The ship was to leave at 3 PM. I wasn't worried that they would leave us with all those people in line, so I told him to save my spot, and I went and waited at the hotel. I found a place to sit and had a nice cold coca-cola and an appetizer, some great calamari(excellent) while I waited to see them come up in the line. When they got up to the area to board the tender, the line behind them was just as long as before. At that point I started feeling guilty and thought I should go to the back of the line, but everyone knew they had saved my spot in line, and they insisted that I get in line with them. I got in line with them, and we boarded the tender. No problemo! The ship left around 3:10 or 3:15, so they really did move the people faster than I thought, but it all worked out. Places to See If It's Your First Time in Hawaii: These are places that we went to the last time we were in Hawaii, and are a must see, I think. Kauai...The Waimea Canyon. (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific) Oahu...The Polynesian Cultural Center, Punchbowl Cemetery, the Arizona Memorial, Diamond Head State Park Hilo...Volcanoes National Park, Maui...Iao Valley Rainforest and State Park area, Maui Tropical Plantation area Disembarkation: This went very well. We gathered in the Celebrity Lounge, and our color was one of the first to be called, and we were off the ship in no time. Flight Home: Our flights home went well, but we don't know why Celebrity booked us with a six-hour wait before our flight. We were off the ship pretty early, so we hoped to check our luggage in with United, but they said we couldn't check in until 3 hours before the flight, so that killed our plans to go over to Seaport Village and have a nice seafood luncheon. We were able to get an earlier flight to Denver, but that still left us with waiting in Denver airport for around 5 hours for our next flight home. All in all it was no big deal, but it seemed strange that our original flight from San Diego wasn't until around 4:30 PM and we got to the San Diego airport by around 10 or 10:30 AM. We had to wait with our luggage for a few hours until they would check it in. Then we had the big wait in-between flights. It just seems like it could have been scheduled a bit better. Like I say, it was not a big deal, just a lot of waiting around. One thing I should mention is that, on the flight out, we had been very careful to weigh our luggage, and we were within the limits. On our flight back, we did get charged $25 for an overweight suitcase. I didn't really bring back that many souvenirs, but the suitcases were already close to the limit, so it did make a difference. Summary: This was a great cruise! The food and entertainment and service were all great. We met many wonderful people and had some good times. The ship was decorated for the holidays. There was a beautiful Christmas tree in the main lobby, and the grand staircase was decorated with gorgeous poinsettias all the way up. There was another Christmas tree on the staircase in the main restaurant, and there was a menorah for Hanukkah. There was a Catholic priest onboard to say Mass, and there was a Rabbi for Hanukkah services. There were also non-denominational services. One thing that I really noticed was how nice and friendly the staff was. Everywhere I went, room stewards or waiters or officers...all were very friendly and polite. I would really recommend this cruise. It was great! I would have liked more time in Hawaii, but with the time it takes to sail round trip that would have been hard to do. I have been to Hawaii before, so I was o.k. with what we did in the ports. I did really want to go to a nice luau, though, and the ship didn't offer one at night, and my husband was afraid that we wouldn't make it back to the ship in time, so we didn't go. I did go to one the last time I was in Hawaii, though, so, I wasn't too disappointed. Extra Personal Thoughts: This was a great cruise, but we didn't have enough warm days out on deck.(this can be different at different times of the year, of course). I love to sit out on pool deck on a cruise. I also would like to have more time in Hawaii. If we get the chance to go again, I think I will fly one way and stay a few days before the trip back. I'm glad I had the opportunity to sail across the Pacific at least once. It was quite an experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
The embarkation was OUTSTANDING. By the time we were processed through and got to our cabin our bags were there! Incredible! The only issue was the tuxedo ordered via Celebrity. It arrived shortly after the luggage but was missing the ... Read More
The embarkation was OUTSTANDING. By the time we were processed through and got to our cabin our bags were there! Incredible! The only issue was the tuxedo ordered via Celebrity. It arrived shortly after the luggage but was missing the ordered shoes. Our steward, Fatkul, immediately went on a mission, located the tuxedo people and returned with the missing shoes. (The first formal night resulted in another omission of the tuxedo folks -- no suspenders! For formal nights 2 and 3 Fatkul again came to the rescue with a pair of braces borrowed from one of his buddies. The customer relations folks on deck 3 were of no help in remedying the suspenders matter despite a couple of attempts. Our cabin (with veranda) was as expected. Fatkul and staff kept us well stocked with ice and water throughout the cruise and were notably punctual at the requested 5 p.m. ice delivery. He was quite inconspicuous but we always had the feeling he was present...and indeed he was whenever a need arose. The public rooms were well kept and clean. The meals in the Trellis were usually quite good. The service of Raoul and Joie was excellent. Special requests made once were not forgotten for the duration....nice job. They were pleasant and efficient. The same cannot be said for the sommelier. He was not very good at keeping people's glasses filled where warranted. He was also just average in his knowledge of wine. The maitre 'd hotel, Donuto, was a very pleasant young lady who attended to every table with the same amount of pleasantness and, in some instances, playfulness. She enhanced the dining experience at our table of 8. We dined with another couple from our table at the SS United States one evening. It was their first cruise and they were celebrating their 50th anniversary. They also happen to be quite the gourmands. As this evening was at our recommendation we were confident it would be a memorable dining experience. And indeed it was! The entire staff, from maitre 'd Dominique Gamba and head waiter Christin Bell to everyone on the team were extremely pleasant, professional and, very importantly, full of personality. It was not only a memorable dinner, the entire evening was fun. We returned several times during the trip (during off hours) to talk with Dominque and Christin...both of whom take great pride in "their" restaurant and in their profession. A treat not to be missed! The entertainment was typical ship fare: show tunes, humorists, etc. The entertainers were very accomplished, though, and made for enjoyable evenings albeit kind of "old hat." The cruise director, Simon Weir, had been on our 2003 Summit Panama Canal cruise and it was good to see him on the Infinity. He is quite the energizer! For those who will be new to the Celebrity Millennium series (and who may want to save a few calories for the ubiquitous buffets) the lunches at the AquaSpa Cafe are not to be missed. The fare there is lighter and can even be special ordered (something not all know). For example, if they are featuring a halibut you can request that they broil it. It takes a little longer -- maybe 15 minutes -- but it is often worth the wait. Also not to be missed are: the omelette bar for breakfast (made to order); the Cova Cafe for delightful pastries and tasty coffee; the pasta bar for lunch; the sushi bar for a late afternoon/early evening snack; and the Martini Bar sample nights. The only other disappointment was the disembarkation procedure. We were to be in our station at 8:20 a.m.. By 9:15 we had yet to be called and other groups both before and after us decided to get into the lineup to leave the ship causing a major disruption. The ship personnel had no explanation for the delay and were not at all effective in providing some orderliness to the process. We had paid for the transfer from the ship to the airport and had been told that there would be porters available where we would claim our luggage. HA! Try to find to find one! It took some time to literally grab one of the porters and then find the correct bus to the airport. One couple had their luggage on the wrong bus and were being directed to the correct bus but their luggage couldn't be found so they stayed on our bus. This whole process needs a LOT of work. The cruise was excellent overall despite the tuxedo and disembarkation incidents. I would not hesitate to sail with Celebrity in the future -- in fact we signed up for two additional cruises while on board! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
As this was our 4th cruise and our 2nd on Celebrity, what can I say? It just keeps getting better and better. The Infinity is a magnificent ship. Large while remaining cozy, classy without being stuffy and just plain beautiful. The staff ... Read More
As this was our 4th cruise and our 2nd on Celebrity, what can I say? It just keeps getting better and better. The Infinity is a magnificent ship. Large while remaining cozy, classy without being stuffy and just plain beautiful. The staff and crew are some of the warmest and friendliest young people we have sailed with yet. Two years ago on Century I fell in love with Michael's Cigar Bar. Sad to say it's now history. Turned into a piano bar that I never saw more than 3 people use. Cigars outside on the fan tail. Our cabin was of good size. The balcony was a first for us. I don't think we'll be able to cruise again without one. the cabin staff was friendly, efficient and friendly some more. Only one problem.... Embarkation - 8-1/2 hours to get our luggage! Enough said, I can feel my blood pressure starting to rise again. Food -- Food -- Food. Not the Ritz-Carlton but boy was it good. The SS United States restaurant is NOT to be missed. The Broadway style shows are NOT to be missed. The Cova Cafe's cafe mochas are NOT to be missed. Don't even get me started on the Martini Bar. The string and piano quartet were our favorite. I've tried for 25 years to get my wife interested in classical music. This did the trick. Although a 15 day cruise is fun, I think 10 days will be our limit. The 4 days at sea going over weren't too bad, but the 4 days at sea on the return were beginning to get a bit boring. All in all, we would have to say let's do it again .... soon! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Arriving at the airport we retrieved our luggage and were met by Infinity reps, we put our luggage into a Hertz rent a truck at their request. This all went smoothly but then we had trouble finding the transportation that was supposed to ... Read More
Arriving at the airport we retrieved our luggage and were met by Infinity reps, we put our luggage into a Hertz rent a truck at their request. This all went smoothly but then we had trouble finding the transportation that was supposed to take us to the pier, a transfer ticket was supplied but the locating and boarding the bus was chaotic. When we got to the pier and there were four ships, the Infinity was not prepared to handle the traffic. It took three or more hours of standing before we got to board, not a good start. Crew was fantastic, we were made to feel comfortable and welcome. The decor of the Infinity was very nice, we found our way around with little trouble. The cabin seemed smaller than we expected, but we did enjoy the verandah, which made for a great viewing experience. The staff at the dining room was terrific, The entrees with the exception of a few were not that good, with some of our table rejecting their meals, being offered another choice. I think that the entrees were too highly seasoned. The entertainment was great, a good variety. I think the cruise line did a great job with the unexpected evacuation of a critically ill passenger. We were taken off course and had many passengers miss their air connections. Hawaii was great and the cruise was all that we anticipated. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We flew into San Diego on Saturday and took a cab to Hampton Inn. Since check-in wasn't until 4:00, we left our bags and took a tour around the city and Coronado. When we got back, we checked in and reserved two places on the 11:30AM ... Read More
We flew into San Diego on Saturday and took a cab to Hampton Inn. Since check-in wasn't until 4:00, we left our bags and took a tour around the city and Coronado. When we got back, we checked in and reserved two places on the 11:30AM shuttle to the pier. The next morning ate their complimentary hot breakfast and then walked three blocks to Rite Aid because I had forgotten my cosmetic bag. We checked out around 11:00 and took our bags outside. We left at 11:15 and took the short ride to the pier where we got an unhappy surprise - the Infinity had been delayed until afternoon because of an emergency medical evacuation. We then gave a porter all our bags, including carry-on, which had cabin 2106 tags on them. We then went into the terminal and were directed to an Express Check-in line. When we got to a representative, we showed our passports etc., and she said that our key cards were for cabin 6047 - - Yippee, the upgrade fairy had visited us!!!!! (this was our second time on Infinity, and the second time we received an upgrade from outside to balcony) We decided to stay at the terminal instead of taking another tour. Celebrity had finger sandwiches, desserts, and beverages. We found a seat and people watched until we finally got to board at about 5:30. On the way up the platform to board, the ass't Maitre 'D was handing out tickets for early or late dinner for that evening. We took early, were taken to our cabin by our ass't steward, Sydney. (our steward was also named Sydney) We washed up and headed for the dining room. When we got back we explained to the Sydneys that we had been upgraded and gave them our former cabin number. As the evening went on, we kept checking outside and checking back with Sydney when we saw him -- but no luggage. We were exhausted, so went to bed early. The next morning, still no bags, so hubby & I schlepped down to 2106 where, presto, there were our bags. We took three up and informed Sydney that the other three were still downstairs. FOOD: We ate all breakfasts and lunches at the Oceanview Cafe. Good variety and always very palatable. We ate all dinners in the dining room at table 404, where the waiter was Dwayne, ass't was Rafin. The dinners were good to excellent. I can't say enough good things about our tablemates, Denise and Jim from Canada, and Sheila and Kevin from the U.K. We closed the dining room most nights, and laughed so much our sides were sore! ACTIVITIES: There were two Cruise Critic parties, because the first had been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and the muster drill was at 10:30 a.m. There were all kinds of activities all around the ship every day. We attended lots of trivia sessions which had more people participating than on any of our previous cruises. Since I am an avid reader, I read five books during the two week period. ISLANDS: (MAUI) On Friday, we tendered at Lahaina Maui. We had not booked a ships tour, so just off the pier, we noticed Sean of Coastline Limousine, and booked a three hour tour, which lasted four hours, probably because Sean, the owner, was our chauffeur. He is very informative, and we had a great time and learned a lot about the island, culture, and prices of housing etc. Would highly recommend him!!! (KONA side of big island HAWAII) On Saturday, we tendered into Kailua-Kona. No tour, so we walked and shopped. (KAUAI ISLAND) On Sunday, we docked at Nawiliwili, no tour booked again. We decided to walk instead of taking the shuttle. We walked, and walked, and walked -- no town -- along a dangerous highway with no sidewalks. We finally found Hilo Hatties and took their shuttle immediately back to ship. Once there, we saw the rep. for helicopter tours on the dock. We decided to do an hour tour with Island Helicopters. WOW, WOW, and WOW!!!! Our first time on a helicopter. The scenery was amazing. Waimea Canyon is breathtaking. We were taken into the dormant craters, right up to the wall before turning around and heading out. (OAHU)On Monday, we docked at Honolulu. We had a ships tour to the Arizona and City tour. The Arizona is awe-inspiring. After all these years, the bubbles coming up, and being the final resting place for 1200 men, really mind boggling. (HAWAII - big island) On Tuesday, we docked at Hilo. We had a six hour ships tour of Volcanoes National Park. Our bus driver was "the Big Kahuna". We had a great time with him. He is very knowledgeable and has a good sense of humor, and makes a long six hour trip enjoyable. We stopped first at Mauna Loa macadamia orchard and candy factory, where we had to buy a box lunch, since there was no other place to stop for food. We also stopped at an orchid nursery and gift shop before we went to the National Park. After the park, we went to the Punch Bowl, and then out to the lava flow site that looked like a scene from Hell with the steam and black lava devastation. We finished the tour with the stop at Rainbow Falls. SAIL OVER & BACK -- The first three days very choppy with up to 40 mph winds. Many passengers were seasick and confined to their cabins. The last day at sea and the trip back were fine. OVERVIEW - This cruise was absolutely fantastic. Infinity and all its crew members are as wonderful as when we sailed her in 2001. Since we had such great tablemates, we couldn't wait for 8:30 to arrive each night. We enjoyed each of the islands, and they were all amazing in their own way. We would certainly like to return some day. I would be happy to answer any questions.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2005
This was our fifth cruise, the first three with Holland America and the last two with Celebrity. We had booked a veranda guarantee but the upgrade fairy put us in the Concierge category. The cruise didn't start out on the best foot, ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise, the first three with Holland America and the last two with Celebrity. We had booked a veranda guarantee but the upgrade fairy put us in the Concierge category. The cruise didn't start out on the best foot, when we got to the pier around noon, there was little help taking the luggage. We stood in line over a half an hour to drop our suitcases off at the baggage terminal door. Once we got in the terminal, there were very few people in line to check in as they were still outside waiting to get someone to take their bags. We had 4 1/2 sea days going over. The seas were a little choppy but not too bad. The weather didn't really cooperate either as the only real good time was the last afternoon before arriving in Kauai. The night before they had a big island party by the pool and that got rained out about 1/2 hour after it started. We didn't really have Chamber of Commerce weather on any of the islands, some clouds and a few sprinkles on Oahu. Since we've been to Hawaii several times, we only booked one tour, the Wiamia Canyon Tour on Kauai. We got to the lookout point and the fog was so thick you couldn't see past the railing. It wasn't worth the $38 p.p. we paid but what can you say? Mother Nature does what she pleases. The entertainment was great! They had 2 comedians, a juggler, a singer, and a guy that played a hi-tech instrument called a xylo-synth. The singers and dancers were fabulous!! Their last show "Celebrate the World" was the best we've seen in 49 days at sea. The costumes and background scenery reminded us of a Vegas show. The ship was very nice and clean. They were always cleaning and painting. Our stateroom was nice but I'm glad I didn't pay for the Concierge upgrade. All the amenities are nice but not worth the extra cost. The list of upgrades can be found on Celebrity's website. Overall the food was good but inconsistent. One day it was to die for and the next it was mediocre. That included the dinning room and buffet. We rate it fifth best of our 5 cruises. The service was outstanding from everyone we came in contact with. You could tell it was genuine and they really wanted to make your vacation the best ever. This included the people who didn't rely on tips to make a living. In recap, it was a nice cruise and we did enjoy ourselves. It wasn't bad enough to forget about cruising or good enough to run out and book another one. We talked to people who said it was the best ever for them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
The ship is very spacious and beautiful, if you discount the roaches in the buffet. Public areas are plentiful, if you like to drink. Cabins are fairly spacious, but no drawer space. Cabin attendant was outstanding and so was dining room ... Read More
The ship is very spacious and beautiful, if you discount the roaches in the buffet. Public areas are plentiful, if you like to drink. Cabins are fairly spacious, but no drawer space. Cabin attendant was outstanding and so was dining room waiter. That's the good stuff. The bad, this was a cruise over the Christmas/Chanukah/New Year holiday and there were over 600 children on board, about 2/3 were teens who had too much energy for senior citizens and more importantly, for their parents, who either didn't care or didn't care. Food was just food, nothing outstanding. The chefs suggestions were the worst, with much of it almost sickening. Deserts were just that, and we had ice cream most nights (vanilla, since chocolate was not available, except on special occasions?) Service in the buffet was spotty. Often they left tables dirty for an hour or more, and they never came around for a coffee refill until the last two days, (prior to the gratuity time). The pasta station was weak and we had to complain about the sandwich makers, who seemed to feel that a spread of tuna or egg salad made a sandwich. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room was uninspired and listless. The production shows were good, and so was most of the talent, (ie: singers and pianist and jazz violinist). The magician and juggler were third rate. The Circus de Soule was very weak, not at all like the Las Vegas shows. We would have a hard time returning to this line, and never, never, never on a holiday cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My husband and I have been on 10 cruises, this was absolutely the worst nightmare from start to finish. This was our 2nd and absolute last cruise on any RCCL cruise line, especially Celebrity. We had the Penthouse and let me tell you ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 10 cruises, this was absolutely the worst nightmare from start to finish. This was our 2nd and absolute last cruise on any RCCL cruise line, especially Celebrity. We had the Penthouse and let me tell you what the brochures and Celebrity tell you that you receive for FREE or plain receive is not the truth!! Butler was there to serve....you had to ask him to do anything and everything, nothing was volunteered. Stateroom attendant spent maybe 10 minutes in the room...1,200 sq feet of it cleaning. Never clean the bathroom floor, never changed the sheets until I took them off (even asked and was told NO not on long enough..this was after 5 nights and 3 of those we were seasick in the bed!) Brochure says we were suppose to receive free internet (changed since our cruise on the Internet where it now says you pay)....get it free on Princess with the room. Get free dry cleaning and laundry service on Princess with the Big Suites. Service overall was the worst. The employees were rude, arrogant and would just tell you anything to get you off the phone or away from their desk. Entertainment was fantastic though, actually top 5 star in that area, but you only had one every night to chose from in the big theatre. Princess has 2 and sometimes 3 entertainment (usually more than one entertainment theatre on the ship) nightly and you can see all 3 if you plan your evening well. Food - for 13 nights we were offered the same dinners over and over, no variety. Prime rib after 5 times is boring. Fish was the same every night, just a different sauce. No buffet after 2:45 pm....only hamburgers and hot dogs or room service. Lunch buffets were very limited on variety....nothing like peel and eat shrimp, fishes, no potato entrees but 2-3 varieties of rice, mainly cheap pasta, lettuce salads, watered/milked down soups, etc. Princess has buffets round the clock, too many entrees to chose from and nice personnel to assist you. Bought the all you can drink Coke and all they would bring me was 4 or 6 oz juice glasses (mainly ice) to drink, and that was a chore to receive that even. Since they don't get any tips in serving this, they didn't want to do it and would take up to 10 15 minutes to get you this drink....you rarely had time to ask for 2. On Princess, you get 8 or 12 oz and gladly serve you. Summit ship itself was not fancy, elegant on the inside. It was plain color walls, not all the elegance of past ships we have been on. The glass elevators are on the water side and this leaves the center of the boat and the open foyer area plain, plain. There was just plain round tubes going up 3 floors and a stair case out of no where that went just up and down....nothing out of ordinary. We had thought Celebrity was the Lincoln version of RCCL, and Princess was not that elegant, glamorous....WRONG. Princess is the only way to go and we are now a confirmed Princess customer. Please understand, we are not snotty, high fashioned stuck up people, just run of the mill, middle class that saved for this "cruise of a lifetime" for a long time and was thoroughly disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Let me say first this was the only celebrity cruise we have been on and have only cruised once before with Royal Caribbean. We booked this 9 months in advance and got a very good deal. There were four of us 2 adults(early 30's) and 2 ... Read More
Let me say first this was the only celebrity cruise we have been on and have only cruised once before with Royal Caribbean. We booked this 9 months in advance and got a very good deal. There were four of us 2 adults(early 30's) and 2 boys (6,13) in an inside cabin (9159). I will try to be as unbiased as possible. Embarkation: Disaster! We stayed the night at the Best Western Sunrise ($100) that has a free shuttle to the pier. We were informed that there were problems so we could not board until 1:00pm. We got to the pier around that time but it was total mayhem. Thousands of people standing around not knowing what to do or where to go. The gangway was broken and the X-ray machine was broken so there was a huge delay with the people getting off and we could not get on. We sat in the cold and rain for over 4 hours with two children. I saw NO ONE from Celebrity to even help at all. This was very poor service on their part. Everyone has very angry. There were lines that went no where, people just wondering what to do. They dropped the ball on this one. They may not have caused the problems but they handled in the worst way. First four days at sea: The boat is GORGEOUS! It is very elegant but understated. It is a little confusing at first but in no time you figure everything out. Our cabin was inside on the skydeck (9). There is some noise from the restaurant and deck above so bring earplugs. There is also a sewage smell every once in a while but I don't know if that was around all the boat. I only smelled it on our deck. The cabin was small but fine but we were crowded with 4 people (our choice). Our cabin steward was great (Jose). I could not ask for anything better in this arena. He was efficient and quick as we rarely ever saw him. The sea was rough for the first couple of days so a lot of people were sick, myself included. The meclezine cleared it up for me. The activities on board were in one word BORING. They have a commercial you watch were it says that Bingo is the official sport of Celebrity, they mean it! There is lots of bridge playing (Bridge?)I don't even know anyone who plays. They had financial lectures (yawn), computer classes (interesting, but this is my vacation!),oceanographer series, and a "Hawaiian ambassador" (he was nice). I did the trivia, which was fun but the questions were strange and very age based. I played Bingo (because there was nothing else to do), the Newlywed game was very fun but just one night. The kids program was great for my six year old. He spent every minute there and had a blast. My teenager had a hard time finding the other teens as they did not so a lot to bring the older kids together but they eventually found each other so then there was a small pack of teens hanging out. After that we never saw him at all. The ports: Hilo: I highly recommend renting a car (Thrifty) and seeing things yourself. The ship's excursion is about $100 per person and they went to the same places we did but we spent just $35 for the car and they pick you up at the pier. We ate at a place called the coconut grill that was yummy ($50). The macadamia nut factory is on the way to Volcanoes Natl. Park so you can make a very easy trip of it. Kauai: My favorite, we should have rented a car. We went to the Fern Grotto and did the river cruise $60 for the fours of us, I really enjoyed this, it is truly beautiful. Taxis are hard to come by but there is a shuttle to and from the Coconut Grove Marketplace from the pier. Rent a car! Also if you arrange your tour from the pier or throughout the little freebee magazine. You can get a helicopter tour for half what the boat charges. Honolulu: Yuck is this LA? We rented a car ($35) and did the Arizona which was nice but not as moving as I had hoped. We got there about 9:30 and got tickets for 10:45am, not too bad. The film was great but the museum was so crowded you could hardly even look at anything. We skipped the Mighty Mo and the Bowfin (which I wish we would have done). We went to the Dole Plantation, skip it! The cost to go on the train ($30)was ridiculous and boring. We did the Paradise Cove Luau, Which was a lot like a Vegas night club act. I am glad we saw one but I don't ever need to see another. The food was so-so. We had the Entertainment book coupon which saved us $100. Kona: The only port that was tendered and we had a super short day there 8-3. Considering how long it took you get off the boat, you really only had about four hours to spend. The boys went parasailing with UFO parasail (BOGO w/entertainment book) which was great! The weather was the best in Kona at about 85F and sunny. I snorkeled right off the pier which surprisingly had a lot of fish and things. You can take a free shuttle to the better snorkeling beach as well. Kona was very nice and not too touristy like Honolulu. The last days at sea: We watched Cirque du Soliel and it was good. The shows were good as well but the movies, could they get any older? As I was desperate for activities we went to all of them. I enjoyed the library and the spa. I wish they would have had a laundry mat so we could have packed less. We lost quite a bit in the Casino but there was not a whole lot to do so we spent a lot of time there. The seas was great on the way home but not a lot of sun on the whole trip. The Normandie: We ate there and it was so worth the extra $60 The food was very good but there is not evening buffet which really limits your choices. The casual evening restaurant was lousy. The pasta bar is great but my kids only ate hamburgers by the pool side. The sushi bar was good and the pizza OK. The service of the wait staff is impecible (Kumar/Julian). I will cruise again but not with this company. This is tailored for the over sixty crowd. I didn't mind being in the minority but I would have begged for some fun things to do. Our last cruise had midnight buffets with conga lines and great bands and lots of fun. This had Bingo and bridge and lectures. The whole ship was in bed by 10:30. I was hoping for a little more rounded experience of luxury and partying. I hope I have been fair. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My wife and I have sailed on Celebrity cruises before but this was our first on the Summit. Overall this was an excellent cruise and we would not hesitate to sail on the Summit again. We are professionals in our mid-50s and I would ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed on Celebrity cruises before but this was our first on the Summit. Overall this was an excellent cruise and we would not hesitate to sail on the Summit again. We are professionals in our mid-50s and I would estimate that we were at or slightly under the mean age of our fellow passengers. As expected on a 13 night cruise in January, there were few children aboard. We flew from JFK to Long Beach on Jet Blue, which in my opinion is far and away the best of the low-cost airlines. Embarkation was problematic, not through any fault of Celebrity, but as a result of damage to the gangway at the Port of Los Angeles due to high winds. Since we sailed on a holiday (January 2nd) the port was not able to repair the problem and that resulted in long delays in boarding and in loading luggage. There was much complaining among the passengers but those complaints seemed to me to be directed toward the wrong party. Celebrity has no control of the port or the dock and once onboard we were treated wonderfully. If the Port of LA wants to increase cruise ship traffic, as is their stated aim, then they need to be more attentive to the needs of those customers. A delay that would not be a problem for a cargo ship is a big deal to passengers waiting to board their cruise. I hope other passengers did as I did and wrote a letter of complaint directly to the commissioner of the LA Port Authority. Once on board the service was top notch: Friendly with out being familiar, professional with out being stiff. We are used to that from our waiters, but we found it true with all of the ships personnel. We also noted an abundance of supervisor personnel, at the buffet for example, and they not only made sure that things went smoothly they jumped in to help when it was appropriate. Food is always a big issue on a cruise and I think the Summit does a fine job. Dining in the Cosmopolitan restaurant was a delightful experience with good food and outstanding service. The beef ranked among the best I have ever had. Of course, some items were not as good as others, but overall the standard was high. I sometimes think that we pass angers need to keep in mind that on a cruise the kitchen is preparing 1900 meals, far more than any top flight restaurant would prepare in a week, and yet they do so with a high level of quality. So, I agree with those who say that the food on the Summit is not equivalent to a 5-star restaurant, but it is of very high standard and really did provide us with a most enjoyable dining experience. I should also mention that the wine list was adequate and had some very interesting choices at prices that were the equivalent of shore-based restaurants (which is still too high, but that is another issue. Our wine steward as knowledgeable and actually recommended a less expensive wine after we discussed our preferences with him. We did not try either the casual dining venue or the specialty dining room, since we were completely satisfied with the experience in the Cosmopolitan restaurant. The Summit is a lovely ship, with art everywhere, and generally very well maintained. We did notice some wear and tear on chairs and upholstery in the lounges and bars. Every aspect of the ship was sparking clean and well kept, including fresh flowers in the public restrooms. Our cabin was the lowest class ocean view, which is fine with us as we dont plan to spend much time in the cabin except to sleep. It was standard, but big enough and well designed. This was a 13 night cruise with only four port days in Hawaii. We booked this cruise for exactly that experience, we look forward to relaxing at sea, reading and listing to music, talking and just enjoying a break from the hectic world. If you want excitement, rock climbing, constant activities and a jammed disco every night you will not find it on the Summit. We heard from several passengers that there were too many sea days, a complaint that surprises me since the itinerary was clear. If you didnt want to spend that much time at sea why did you book this particular cruise? There were the standard at sea activities, most of which we ignored, but the lectures were of the highest caliber and were a daily highlight. We love the absence of annoying PA announcements on Celebrity, but heard some complaints that more information would have been appreciated. Hawaii was lovely, and we agree with many of our companions that more time ashore, especially at Kona, would be nice. We booked shore excursions, which were generally good (esp. to the volcano on the Big Island) but, as usual, over priced. Extending this to a 15 night cruise, with two more days in the islands would really appeal to us. Debarkation was a breeze, far the most efficient we have encountered. Overall this was an excellent cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
WOW! That is the best word I can think of to sum up the total cruise to Hawaii on the Summit. The ship was lovely, BIG, and very clean. We had a Concierge Class cabin number 9102. We loved having breakfast on the balcony from the expanded ... Read More
WOW! That is the best word I can think of to sum up the total cruise to Hawaii on the Summit. The ship was lovely, BIG, and very clean. We had a Concierge Class cabin number 9102. We loved having breakfast on the balcony from the expanded breakfast menu for Concierge Class only. They set it up on your balcony with tablecloths and everything, just like the dining room. The food was good, hot and came on time. Room service was very fast and the best out of all 17 cruises that we have taken. The nice extras that you get in Concierge Class was worth the extra price. We will always choose this class on our future cruises. Some of the little extras are, Fresh fruit everyday. Extra nice bedding and towels. Flowers in the sitting area and the bathroom was a very nice touch. Priority tender passes in the ports where you have to tender is worth the extra price, you get to go before anybody else, straight to the head of the line. Really loved that one as we had a very short time in Kona and didn't have to wait. Four o'clock every night Canapes were delivered to the room. Nice to have with cocktails before dinner. On past postings people have said that they didn't like them, all I can say is those persons are not gourmets. No need to pack a hairdryer as there are 2 in the room. The shower was larger than in most bathrooms in the past. There was plenty of closet and places to unpack for the 13 night cruise. You might want to bring extra hangers for the longer cruises. There is a mini bar/frig thing stocked with liquor and soda. We took everything out of it and just used it to keep our soda and water that we brought on with us cold. The balcony is a nice size and has a clear glass wall so your view is not blocked. Salt spray builds up on it, but you can have your room stewart clean it. Enough about the room, lets move on to the food. The buffet was nice. There is 2 sides to it and the main item on each side was different so make sure you walk each side before getting in line. The Summit has many different serving stations. Pizza, Pasta, waffles and pancakes, omelette, deli type sub sandwiches, pastries, Ice cream (which is all made on the ship and really good. The sherbets are a most to have),sushi, healthy food from the Spa CAfe, and last but not least the Grill where you can get hotdogs and hamburgers and some of the best fries around. The Normandie Restaurant is a most for at least one night. It was a 5 star plus. The food was tasty and service great. The main dining room food was good, but I think they could do a little better on presentation. We didn't use the dining room for breakfast as we had it in our room or at the buffet. We did have lunch there and it was good. We loved the buffet for lunch as we liked to spend our time by the pool and didn't have to change clothes for it, just use a coverup over your swimwear. The dinning room has a dress code for all meals. Shore excursions had a lot to pick from or you could just wait till you got into port and find something on your own on the dock. They are lots of free shuttles to different shopping places. The shows were great and there was something for everyone. They even have a movie theater. You can also charge in room movies, which I liked. They have CNN and TNT so you can always find something to watch on TV if you were having a lazy day in your room. I can't say enough good about this cruise. Just remember that the 4 days at sea will be a little rough during the winter months, so be prepared for some rocking and rolling, both on the way over and the way back. Just want to close with saying we are in our late 50's and we had a great time. There was lots of things to do all day long, or you could do nothing. We had a bad time on embarkation, but it was the ports fault as they had a power failure and the ramp would not work. This was not the fault of the cruise line. So book this cruise and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
The embarkation was very slow - this was our 5th cruise with Celebrity and we have never seen it that bad - probably due to the San Pedro port facilities being the worst we have seen. The dining was excellent. The theme meals were good ... Read More
The embarkation was very slow - this was our 5th cruise with Celebrity and we have never seen it that bad - probably due to the San Pedro port facilities being the worst we have seen. The dining was excellent. The theme meals were good and the midnight buffet around the pool area was a lot of fun. In addition to the main dining room, the buffet and other eating choices such as sushi, pasta and sandwich bars were very well laid out and the food was great although the breakfast menu in the buffet area was repetitious after the 11th day. The alcoholic beverage prices (wine, hard liquor) are becoming prohibitive (martini $10) for alcohol that is supposed to be duty free. Our stateroom was comfortable and efficient. The ships' cleanliness overall was excellent. The entertainment was the best we have seen so far. The dancers were energetic and the variety of comedians, ventriloquist and singers a welcome change. The islands we visited were interesting although it would have been better if we spent less time on the big island and more time in Maui which was really beautiful. Service as usual was outstanding and everyone was in tip top shape and doing their best to please. The tours and special considerations for "select" members (more than 5 cruises) were great. We got a backstage tour, galley tour, special cocktail with Captain and officers to mention a few. The daily activities were a bit weak and repetitious. Celebrity should work on offering more variety - you can only play trivial pursuit and bingo so many times! Especially since this cruise had 8 days at sea. Disembarkation was a disaster. The ship docked 45 minutes late and this caused chaos for those who had a early flight to catch. We were each given specific times to clear customs and this procedure was "out the window" once the chaos of docking late occurred. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was our 5th cruise but first with Celebrity. Our experience has been with Norwegian and Royal Caribbean in the past. My wife and I are in our early 50s from Central Maine. I am in Sales and my wife works in human resources. We ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise but first with Celebrity. Our experience has been with Norwegian and Royal Caribbean in the past. My wife and I are in our early 50s from Central Maine. I am in Sales and my wife works in human resources. We generally take a Cruise in our slow winter months enjoying warm weather climates. We arrived in LA at 10am in a massive rain storm. Winds were fierce and it was evident this was not the norm for the area. We hired a town car out of Road Runner Shuttle to meet us and transport us directly to the port (we found the cost to be slightly higher than other methods of transfer, but well worth it). The driver was entertaining and skillful at negotiating the traffic and flooded ramps off the highway to the port by 11am. Arriving at his time would normally be OK but because of the weather and high winds we found the port to be disorganized. Apparently the gangway was twisted by the winds and caused a long delay in passengers disembarking. Arriving passengers was forced to wait outside in adverse weather waiting to board. Embarkation: 1 Star due mostly to Los Angeles Port Authority and adverse weather. We found the Summit to be very clean and comfortable with lots of space, never seeming crowded. It didnt have the WOW factor that the Royal Caribbean Ships has but is a beautiful ship and very clean (4 stars). We boarded the Summit at 3pm finding our stateroom #9144 was all that was promised. Very nicely laid out with plenty of storage, nice balcony and very clean. Best cabin yet for the money (5 stars)! Edwin our cabin attendant was outstanding! We departed LA at midnight (6 hours late). We woke up the next morning to a very rough cruise. I swear the stabilizers were not in operation. We were looking for the seat belts for the bed. I have been on 4 previous cruises and never sick. This was the exception. I couldnt keep down the sea sickness pills that were being handed out like candy to most passengers. Be aware, this is apparently normal for this time of year heading out of LA to Hawaii. Be prepared! The rough seas continued for 3 days but the pills kicked in on the 2nd day, and my voyage improved greatly. Edwin, our cabin attendant really paid attention to me and my sickness, catering to every request with real concern for my health. The return cruise sea days were just fine. We ate great dinners in the Cosmopolitan dining room (table for 2) and had Carlos as our head water, and Bond his assistant. Both were very attentive and catered to every request with such pleasure. Both had a great sense of humor. Meals in the dining room were outstanding! Good selection and always cooked to perfection and served hot. I rate the Cosmopolitan (5 stars). We did try the Normandy one night and did not find it worth the extra fee. We enjoyed the Cosmopolitan and company of the neighboring tables the best choice of the restaurants. Luncheon buffets in the Waterfall Cafe (4 stars) were good but not great. Pizza was very good. Burgers at the Waterfall Grill was also good. We went to most every show and found the entertainment and theater outstanding. The comedian was great, the Broadway style production shows was the best we have found on any ship. There was very comfortable seating with good views. Rating 5 stars! Casino: Very typical for a Cruise Ship (3 Stars). It did seem to be paying out better than previous cruises. We found the Wheel of Fortune Slot that seemed to be paying off very well. Fellow gamblers were friendly, talkative and helpful in the Casino. Dealers tended not to be as helpful or talkative. Shore Excursions: Secrets of Puna, Hilo (4 ½ Stars) very informative female guides on the Volcano and Lava fields and they took us in a GMC Yukon XL luxury SUV into areas you would never consider but did enjoy once you arrived. We did do some snorkeling in fresh water/salt water inlet. You did learn a lot of history on the volcanic activity of the island. Explore the North Shore, Honolulu (2 Stars) this excursion you are bused to the north shore and visit the Dole Plantation. We did get to see a large sea turtle and Surfing. This was a somewhat boring excursion. Valley Waterfall Hiking Adventure, Kailua Kona (5 stars) very informative and entertaining guide takes you by 4x4 up a mountain in very rough muddy terrain to a 3 mile hike on a nice mountain trail up an older volcano to explore amazing waterfalls, plant life and animals along with an overview of the Hawaiian language and culture. Fellow passengers: The friendliest we have experienced but also the oldest. Average age on this cruise is late 60s. Complainers were seldom noticed once we were over the rough seas. Most everyone we found to be very pleased with their experience. A ship full of complaining people can ruin an entire voyage for everybody. Basically, this ship is beautiful. The ship is in great shape. Cold towels and juice when you return from a port is great. Cushions on deck chairs are nice. Service is amazing; they really mean being Treated Famously. All of Summits employees seem to love their job, friendly and take a personable interest in your experience. It really feels like they want to help you and give you great service, not like they have to. At 91,000 tons, the Summit only has 1950 passengers and close to 1000 employees. This ship never seems to be crowded and crew members are always available for any request. Overall I give this experience 4 ½ stars and most likely higher if it wasnt for the rough seas. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was a 14 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back on Celebritys Summit with 3 of my cousins and their husbands We had 4 sea days going and coming. Our plan was to arrive a day early just in case of inclement weather in ... Read More
This was a 14 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back on Celebritys Summit with 3 of my cousins and their husbands We had 4 sea days going and coming. Our plan was to arrive a day early just in case of inclement weather in Chicago, but all of our flights were on time. We arrived in LA to worse weather than we left behind in Chicago, a bit warmer but raining. We stayed at the Hyatt Long Beach and met my cousins there for a drink in the lobby bar once we had all arrived on our different flights. We were all very excited and talking about our upcoming cruise. We also got to see our friends, Tom & Pam who live in San Pedro, and they treated us to for a lovely dinner that night. By the time we got to bed @ 1 AM-Chicago time, we had been up for 21 hrs. We didnt find out until after we got back that the Hyatt had wanted to bump us to another hotel because they had 3 conventions and needed the rooms. Our travel agent, Donna refused to let them move us and talked to the hotel manager who finally relented and let us stay there. That explained the complimentary bottle of wine and the note in our ship cabins apologizing for the inconvenience from Hyatt. Apparently several people were moved to the other facility and they still had our names on the list. Our cabins all had a balcony which was really cool to sit out on and enjoy the view both at sea and while in port. The first night out and the first day were quite bouncy and 2 of my cousins became ill. It turned out that Marilyn had a serious sinus infection and was treated by the ships doc. The medical facility was quite busy as 90% of the passengers were over 70. (If I thought this crowd was old, I guess the last one was even older. Even the comedian made a joke that the last group consisted of very old people and their parents.) The nurse told Marilyn that there was a lot of pneumonia on the ship. I was holding my breath anytime someone got on the elevator and started coughing. The food was superb as always and they have expanded the options for you to stuff yourself. It was lets belly up to the trough one more time. For breakfast, they had 4 buffet lines going and someone on each side making omelets and eggs to order. In the back by the casual dining area, there were waffles and pancakes available 8-10 am. This caused quite a backlog as there was only one waffle maker and people did not want to wait. Lunch was a specialty buffet on the port side on sea days and a station to make your own sandwich in the casual dining area. They actually made it for you according to your directions. They also had French fries which were quite good. The specialty buffets were ok but the only one that looked appealing was the American with fried chicken and corn on the cob. The Chinese buffet was said to be good but I never got to it. The Mexican that I did try was pretty bland for tacos, without any real taste to them. Also on each side was a pasta station which got a good work-out. Also from Noon to 10 pm was pizza on the far starboard side. You could design you own pizza but they always had some made up to try. It was ok, but the crust was really lacking in taste. The Spa Cafe by the Thalassotherapy pool was very good for light choices for breakfast and lunch. As usual, the pool grill had hot dogs, hamburgers and a specialty choice of those each day. They did have the best pickles I have ever eaten. Since we were changing time going and coming people were constantly adjusting to the new time but the ship stuck to their schedule and by 11 am only one buffet line was open for breakfast and it was usually quite crowded as was the omelet station. Forget about the waffles, it closed at 10 am, damn the passengers who slept in. Dinner was at late seating and I think this will be the last time we will do it that way. Since most of the late seating shows were at 7:00, when you were done eating it was go to the casino or to bed. No one wanted to hit the sheets with a full stomach. I was still on Chicago time the first few days and was waking up at 5 AM ship time. I thought that I would be the only one in the gym when it opened at 6 AM, but everyone else was up too. We were religious about working out every day in the well-equipped gym and finally found that going at 9-9:30 AM was the best time to get a machine. The day we pulled into Hilo (which was our first stop) we could see whales surfacing in front of us as we walked on the treadmills. The gym is at the top of the ship in the front so you have the Captains-eye view as you pull into port. In Hilo we did the Circle of Fire and Waterfalls Helicopter tour so we saw the active volcanoes and the lava pouring into the ocean. Very cool. We have the video so we can bore all of our friends. They make you get on a scale at the dock so as to balance the load in the aircraft and then the bus took us to the airport. If you can stand the humiliation, it is a great tour. If you are thin, no problem. We also bought an orchid lei at the airport which was only $6. I did wear it for at least 4 days. I never thought to stick it in the fridge in the room to keep it fresh. On our last trip to Hawaii, we boarded in Honolulu and everyone received an orchid lei. This didnt happen on this trip. Maybe it was because that trip in 2002 was Celebritys first trip to Hawaii. We had already seen Pearl Harbor the last time so we tried to go to see the Polynesian Cultural Center but we were too late for a tour and the rental cars were all taken. Here you should probably take the ships tour. We really had no idea how far away this attraction was. The taxi driver quoted us $120 one way! So I ended up shopping and walking around Honolulu for part of the day. You cant believe how you are sweating and how hot you feel and it probably was only 82 degrees. The historical section is walking distance from the pier and so is Chinatown. Considering we were there from 7 am to 11 pm, we should have seen a lot more. The cousins did go see Pearl Harbor, the Missouri battleship and the Bowfin submarine. They left the ship about 7:45 and didnt get back until almost 4:00. So no matter what you do, it is time consuming and you will not see everything you want to see. There isnt too much to see in Kauai but the beach is walking distance from the pier and the waves were great. There are only ships tours here to be had. I wish we had done the helicopter tour here or gone to see Waimea Canyon. I guess we will have to put that down for a future cruise. We tendered ashore at Kona and did the requisite shopping at Hilo Hatties. Karl bought me a beautiful black Tahitian pearl slide to go on my omega chain. What a nice surprise! I was not expecting anything at all. The cousins hit Hilo Hatties at every stop. They did have the best prices on Aloha wear and other souvenirs. Maui was our last stop and I went whale watching with Captain Steves tours. I was too late to get on the ships excursion but I remembered reading about this excursion so I called from Honolulu on my cell phone and got directions to Mala wharf. Good thing I took a cab there as I would never have found it by myself. That cab ride for a 5 minute trip cost me over $7 but it was worth it as there was no signs indicating where you were or that Captain Steve came there. Our vehicle was a zodiac boat that seated 24 and all the other passengers were from resorts. I was the only one off the ship. We saw lots of whales and they came quite close to the boat. I think we saw more whales than the people who took the Pacific Whale Foundation tour from the ship. This boat was more maneuverable and able to go to the whales location easier. They really want you to see a lot and tell others. The entertainment was certainly the best I have ever seen on a cruise. Its seems that they pull out the stops on the longer cruises. There were three big production shows with very talented singers and dancers. The featured acts were all great, especially Pearl Kaufman, a pianist, Taste of Cirque du Soleil, Jeri Sager, singer, & Jeff Nease, comedian. The one thing they could have done was bring back the entertainers for an afternoon show. On the sea days that would have been very well attended. I think they might have had an afternoon show by the dulcimer player, Ping Xu, but we would have skipped that one. We saw him on our Alaska cruise and he played the same songs he played 3 yrs ago! The Celebrity Orchestra was outstanding. What a bunch of very talented guys. The casino was pretty well attended also and I cant complain since I won $1300 playing 3-card Poker over the 14 days. My cousin won about $800 on different slot machines and we all won playing Bingo with prizes from $90-140. I won $100 early in the cruise and Karl won $140 the last morning. That put us even on Bingo until that evening when I won the big prize of $3400 which I had to share with another lady. That was just the frosting on the cake! All of my cousins were my cheering section. (I was wondering who was cheering and applauding since everyone around me looked very unhappy.) The family joke was that Karl had to book me on the next cruise so I wouldnt have to get off the boat and break my winning streak. This was a really great cruise and it looks like Celebrity has a winner with these round trips that spare you the long flight from your home city to Honolulu. Getting home was easy since we are all in Chicago and didnt have to change planes to continue our trip. Picked up all the luggage, called the limo and we were home and back to reality after 2 weeks of luxury. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was a 14 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back on Celebritys Summit with 3 of my cousins and their husbands We had 4 sea days going and coming. Our plan was to arrive a day early just in case of inclement weather in ... Read More
This was a 14 day round trip from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back on Celebritys Summit with 3 of my cousins and their husbands We had 4 sea days going and coming. Our plan was to arrive a day early just in case of inclement weather in Chicago, but all of our flights were on time. We arrived in LA to worse weather than we had left behind in Chicago, a bit warmer but raining. We stayed at the Hyatt Long Beach and met my cousins there for a drink in the lobby bar once we had all arrived on our different flights. We were all very excited and talking about our upcoming cruise. We also got to see our friends, Tom & Pam who live in San Pedro, and they treated us to for a lovely dinner that night. By the time we got to bed @ 1 AM-Chicago time, we had been up for 21 hrs. We didnt find out until after we got back that the Hyatt had wanted to bump us to another hotel because they had 3 conventions and needed the rooms. Our travel agent, Donna refused to let them move us and talked to the hotel manager who finally relented and let us stay there. That explained the complimentary bottle of wine, the chocolate covered strawberries and the note in our ship cabins apologizing for the inconvenience from Hyatt. Apparently several people were moved to the other facility and they still had our names on the list. The Hyatt was a lovely property however and the room was very comfortable. We would definitely stay there again. They did provide a shuttle to the pier which was a large coach bus. Embarkation was quite busy and slow as the computers needed to scan our pre-boarding documents that we had done online were not working. As a result, everything needed to be done over with a resulting backlog of passengers. Once on board, we were greeted with champagne or mimosas and found our own way to our cabins. This was about 11:30 AM and I imagine it was the busiest time to be boarding. We waited in the Martini lounge while one of our number went to see if the rooms were ready. When he didnt return we headed up one deck to our Category 2-C cabins in the center of the ship. We had been given our sign and sail cards and we were in our rooms at last! I found out later that these cards with their useful magnetic strips can be erased! I was carrying my cell phone with me all the time in a little purse with my room card and after about a week, I couldnt unlock the room door! I went down to customer relations where they issued me a new one and asked if I had it next to a cell phone or digital camera. When I said I had a cell phone, they said that cards were frequently erased by the batteries of these devices. Since I had promised my daughter to keep my phone with me at all times so she could notify me in case of an emergency, I ended up needing to get a third card before we finished the cruise. The ship was as beautiful as we remembered it. Still had the funky modern art which evoked much comment from the passengers, especially my cousin, Sharon, who couldnt stand it! Summit looked to be in excellent shape inside and out. I did not notice any signs of wear and tear in any of the public areas. Our cabins all had a balcony which was really cool to sit out on and enjoy the view both at sea and while in port. The first night out and the first day were quite bouncy and 2 of my cousins became ill. It turned out that Marilyn had a serious sinus infection and was treated by the ships doc. The medical facility was quite busy as 90% of the passengers were over 70. (If I thought this crowd was old, I guess the last one was even older. Even the comedian made a joke that the last group consisted of very old people and their parents.) The nurse told Marilyn that there was a lot of pneumonia on the ship. I was holding my breath anytime someone got on the elevator and started coughing. The food was superb as always and they have expanded the options for you to stuff yourself. It was lets belly up to the trough one more time. For breakfast, they had 4 buffet lines going and someone on each side making omelets and eggs to order. In the back by the casual dining area, there were waffles and pancakes available 8-10 am. This caused quite a backlog as there was only one waffle maker and people did not want to wait. Lunch was a specialty buffet on the port side on sea days and a station to make your own sandwich in the casual dining area. They actually made it for you according to your directions. They also had French fries which were quite good. The specialty buffets were ok but the only one that looked appealing was the American with fried chicken and corn on the cob. The Chinese buffet was said to be good but I never got to it. The Mexican that I did try was pretty bland for tacos, without any real taste to them. Also on each side was a pasta station which got a good work-out. From Noon to 10 pm there was pizza on the far starboard side. You could design you own pizza but they always had some kind already made up for you to try. It was ok, but the crust was really lacking in taste. The Spa Cafe by the Thalassotherapy pool was very good for light choices for breakfast and lunch. As usual, the pool grill had hot dogs, hamburgers and a specialty choice of those each day. They did have the best pickles I have ever eaten. Since we were changing time going and coming, people were constantly adjusting to the new time but the ship stuck to their schedule and by 11 am only one buffet line was open for breakfast and it was usually quite crowded as was the omelet station. Forget about the waffles, it closed at 10 am, too bad for the passengers who slept in. We did order coffee and rolls in our cabin a few times just to have a little something in our stomachs before going to work out. It was very pleasant to sit by the open veranda door while we watched the ocean go by. Dinner was at late seating and I think this will be the last time we will do it that way. Since most of the late seating shows were at 7:00, when you were done eating it was go to the casino or to bed. No one wanted to hit the sheets with a full stomach. The dinner menus were the same as I recalled from our last 14 day cruise. Since 2 of my cousins are very picky eaters, they kept the waiter and his assistant on his toes throughout our cruise but they were very accommodating even to offering Thousand Island dressing at every dinner since that was the only one they would eat! A few times they tried the chicken breast with baked potato and it was always presented as nicely as the other meals. Karl commented that they really earned their tips with our group. Marilyn asked for corn a few days before the end of the cruise and after that we had corn on the cob each day. We also chose to try the Normandie specialty restaurant on what we thought would be an Informal night. Turned out to be the first formal night and the room was not crowded at all. It was the regular menu though without any specials by the chef for formal night. Since I was a Captains Club member, I could make our reservation in advance through the Captains Club desk. It took 2 phone calls and 2 e-mails before I received a confirmation of our reservation. It was stated in the message that the largest table they had was for a party of six, so we thought that we would be split up. When we arrived, they had set a table for eight and it was fine. The tables are pretty spacious and even with all the plates and silverware, we were fine. We elected the regular menu and not the wine-pairing menu since 2 of my cousins would not have drunk the wine anyway. Karl and I decided that we would try it for ourselves the next time. The food was superb and they were very accommodating with separate checks for the 4 couples. Since we were family, it would not have been a big deal to have one couple pay the whole thing and everyone else settle with them later. Two people chose the rack of lamb-Wellington style and it looked wonderful but it was a very large portion with at least 3 chops. We had the shrimp and scallops w/pasta and it was very tasty. The portions are much larger than in the regular dining room so you dont miss all the courses. Of course there is the cheese course and some of the guys had some port w/that. The chocolate soufflE looked wonderful and my cousins said it was. I tried the sampler desserts by Michel Roux and they were great except I expected them to be much smaller. There was no way I could eat all of them. Karl had to help me out. I was still on Chicago time the first few days and was waking up at 5 AM ship time. I thought that I would be the only one in the gym when it opened at 6 AM, but was I surprised! Everyone else was up too and had the same idea. We were religious about working out every day in the well-equipped workout room and finally found that going around 9-9:30 AM was the best time to get a machine. The day we pulled into Hilo (which was our first stop) we could see whales surfacing in front of us as we walked on the treadmills. The gym is at the top of the ship in the front so you have the Captains-eye view as you pull into port. It was interesting to note that we left Los Angeles at 5:00 PM on Sunday and even doing 17 knots during the day, we didnt arrive in Hilo until 10:00 Friday morning. According to the Summit Daily, it is 2400 miles from the west coast to Hawaii. Sure makes you respect those early sailors! In Hilo we did the Circle of Fire and Waterfalls Helicopter tour so we saw the active volcanoes and the lava pouring into the ocean. (Well it was more like trickling) But it still was very cool. We have the video so we can bore all of our friends. They make you get on a scale at the dock so as to balance the load in the aircraft before the bus took us to the airport. If you can stand the humiliation, it is a great tour. If you are thin, no problem. We bought an orchid lei at the airport which was only $6. I did wear it for at least 4 days. I never thought to stick it in the fridge in the room to keep it fresh. On our last trip to Hawaii, we boarded in Honolulu and everyone received an orchid lei. This didnt happen on this trip. Maybe it was because that trip in 2002 was Celebritys first trip to Hawaii. We had already seen Pearl Harbor the last time so we tried to go to see the Polynesian Cultural Center but we were too late for a tour and the rental cars were all taken. Here you should probably take the ships tour. We really had no idea how far away this attraction was. The taxi driver quoted us $120 one way! So I ended up shopping and walking around Honolulu for part of the day. You cant believe how you are sweating and how hot you feel and it probably was only 82 degrees. The historical section is walking distance from the pier and so is Chinatown. Considering we were there from 7 am to 11 pm, we should have seen a lot more. The cousins did go to see Pearl Harbor, the Missouri battleship and the Bowfin submarine. They left the ship about 7:45 and didnt get back until almost 4:00. So no matter what you do, it is time consuming and you will not see everything you want to see. There isnt too much to see in Kauai but the beach is walking distance from the pier and the waves were great. There are only ships tours here to be had. I wish we had done the helicopter tour here or gone to see Waimea Canyon. I guess we will have to put that down for a future cruise. We tendered ashore at Kona and did the requisite shopping at Hilo Hatties. Karl bought me a beautiful black Tahitian pearl slide to go on my omega chain. What a nice surprise! I was not expecting anything at all. The cousins hit Hilo Hatties at every stop. They did have the best prices on Aloha wear and other souvenirs. Maui was our last stop and I went whale watching with Captain Steves tours. I was too late to get on the ships excursion but I remembered reading about this excursion so I called from Honolulu on my cell phone and got directions to Mala wharf. Good thing I took a cab there as I would never have found it by myself. That 5 minute cab ride cost me over $7 but it was worth it as there was no signs indicating where you were or that Captain Steve came there. Luckily a family was there and confirmed that I was in the right place. Our vehicle was a zodiac boat that seated 24 and all the other passengers were from resorts. I was the only one off the ship. We saw lots of whales and they came quite close to the boat. I think we saw more whales than the people who took the Pacific Whale Foundation tour from the ship. This boat was more maneuverable and able to go to the whales location easier. They really want you to see a lot and tell others. Since I now knew where I was in location to Lahaina, I just walked back to the town and the ship. It took me about 20 minutes not counting the shopping I did on the way. The entertainment was certainly the best I have ever seen on a cruise. Its seems that they pull out the stops on the longer cruises. There were three big production shows with very talented singers and dancers. The featured acts were all great, especially Pearl Kaufman, a pianist, Taste of Cirque du Soleil, Jeri Sager, singer, & Jeff Nease, comedian. The one thing they could have done was bring back the entertainers for an afternoon show. On the sea days that would have been very well attended. I think they might have had an afternoon show by the dulcimer player, Ping Xu, but we would have skipped that one. We saw him on our Alaska cruise and he played the same songs he played 3 yrs ago! The Celebrity Orchestra was outstanding. What a bunch of very talented guys. The casino was pretty well attended also and I cant complain since I won $1300 playing 3-card Poker over the 14 days. My cousin won about $800 on different slot machines and we all won playing Bingo with prizes from $90-140. I won $100 early in the cruise and Karl won $140 the last morning. That put us even on Bingo until that evening when I won the big prize of $3400 which I had to share with another lady. That was just the frosting on the cake! All of my cousins were my cheering section. (I was wondering who was cheering and applauding since everyone around me looked very unhappy.) The family joke was that Karl had to book me on the next cruise so I wouldnt have to get off the boat and break my winning streak. Disembarkation was a problem in that the ship was late getting to Los Angeles and as a result, the Vision of the Seas had our dock spot so the port had to makeshift something so we could exit the ship. Since we had to go thru customs (that stop in Ensenada) before leaving, we lost our opportunity for breakfast. Our color was Beige-1 and we were second off the ship due to our plane leaving at 12:15. Some people were really enraged that they just couldnt grab their luggage and go. As it happened we boarded the bus for the airport and sat for 20-30 minutes while he filled it up. By the time we signed in, got our boarding passes, went through Security and found our gate (the last one of course), we barely had time to grab a Burger King and board the plane. But all in all, this was a really great cruise and that one little glitch at the end certainly didnt ruin it for us. It looks like Celebrity has a winner with these round trips that spare you the long flight from your home city to Honolulu. Getting home was easy since we are all in Chicago and didnt have to change planes to continue our trip. Picked up all the luggage, called the limo and we were home and back to reality after 2 weeks of luxury. Read Less
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