If you are looking for an upscale cruise experience, you will be delighted with a Celebrity Cruise on the GTS Infinity. Ill share some of our experiences with you in the review below, and Ill close with my personal list of Top Ten Tips ... Read More
If you are looking for an upscale cruise experience, you will be delighted with a Celebrity Cruise on the GTS Infinity. Ill share some of our experiences with you in the review below, and Ill close with my personal list of Top Ten Tips to make your cruise extra special tips that you wont find in the Celebrity brochures!
Originally, my spouse and I booked a 14-night Panama Canal cruise (Dec. 10-24) on the Infinity, and then chose to lengthen our trip by booking a 6-night Mexican Riviera cruise (Dec. 4-10) on the same ship to create a 20-day back-to-back cruise vacation itinerary. We think it was our best cruise vacation decision, and it created an extra-long, extra-relaxing get-away for us.
Mindful of anxiety-producing flight delays, we chose to arrive in San Diego a day earlier than our Dec. 4 cruise departure, ensuring that we would have time to stroll around the beautiful San Diego bay. We stayed at the Hampton Inn which is located 2 short blocks from the pier and 3 blocks from Little Italy. A great location and when we awoke on Dec. 4, we could see from our room that our ship had come in!
The hotels free shuttle took us straight to the pier at 11 a.m., and we spent only 5 minutes handing in our Celebrity Express Pass paperwork and receiving our SeaPass room keys before we were on board the Infinity. There were only a handful of passengers on board and, after dropping our one carry-on piece of baggage in our stateroom, we quickly set out to explore this 91,000 ton beauty. We received our room keys in a convenient map mini-folder which was a handy reference guide to the ship as we got acquainted with our floating resort hotel.
One of the first things we noticed were the smiling faces of the crew members. We were showered with welcome aboard and good morning greetings from every crew member we passed. This friendliness never seemed forced or contrived and it continued for the entire 20 days of our cruise. All cruise staff members wear a badge showing their name and what country they are from; they welcome your questions and they delight in being called by name.
About noon we were hungry for lunch, ready for us on deck 10 in the Oceanview Grill. Five different salads, four different entrees, several vegetables and side dishes, fresh fruit and breads set up cafeteria style were served to hungry passengers. There were 7 different desserts to choose from, including several chocolate choices for these two chocoholics!! Smiling waiters eagerly took our trays and carried them to a sunny window table overlooking the pier and harbor activity.
Although Celebrity does not offer a Cruise Critic Connections party on 6-day cruises, we had discussed a mini-party of our own online, and we pre-planned a meeting time at the Mast Bar so that we could visit our Cruise Critic friends before sailing. More than a dozen Cruise Critic participants showed up and we had a great time sharing screen names, exchanging tour tips and making plans to meet again. (On the 14-day Dec. 10 segment we attended the Cruise Critic Connections party on the first full day at sea. Everyone had a chance to introduce themselves and put a screen name to an actual face. Many of us made plans to meet new friends for lunch or a port tour, and was a great way to form ongoing relationships!)
Before we knew it, it was time to don our orange life jackets and proceed to our life stations for the mandatory life boat drill! And then, we were sailing into a gorgeous sunset and preparing for a gourmet 5-course dinner in the Trellis restaurant! Our waiter David and his assistant Johny were smiling and eager to please as the explained the many delightful choices on that evenings menu. Afterwards, we thoroughly enjoyed the Celebrity singers and dancers in a fantastic entertainment revue that would rival anything in a Las Vegas show lounge! Rather than go into a day-by-day itinerary (since your destinations and timeline will be different), Ill provide highlights and information that will be useful in preparing for your adventure at sea.
The ship is lovely, walkways are wide and there are plenty of chairs and couches for people watching or chatting with a new friend. Each evening, when your room steward turns down your bed, youll find a Celebrity Today newsletter and an insert with all the activities scheduled for the next day. Hang onto this it will help you plan your time to take in the events that appeal to you.
Each day youll find so much to do: enrichment/educational speakers, card and trivia games, pool activities, hot tubs, dance classes, ping-pong, live music by the pool, and a full range of entertainment in the lounges and show room by musicians, comedians, magicians and dancers. Try not to miss a minute of the fun!
Although a cruise is touted as an all-inclusive vacation, there are many items/activities on board that will cost extra and could add hundreds of dollars to the price youve paid for that cruise. You can still have a fantastic time without paying extra fees for gambling, photography, in-stateroom movies, specialty beverages, laundry or spa treatments. Here are some of the things you can expect to pay extra for on the Infinity (all are charged to your shipboard account).
Photos: The ships photographers are taking pictures of you at boarding, on formal nights, at port stops, and during ship activities. You are not obligated to buy any of them. Beverages: Soft drinks, bottled water, gourmet coffees and alcoholic beverages will cost you extra. Bring your own bottled water, or drink the ships regular coffee, hot/iced tea, water, fruit juices, lemonade or milk for free. Fitness/Spa: The gym and equipment are free, but there is a charge for some yoga and pilates classes. The treadmills have a great view at the front of Infinity, and thats where we saw the whales on our cruise! Also, there are extra charges for using the spa facilities (steamroom, massage, facial, nail treatments, hair styling, etc.) Gambling: A full range of casino gambling options await you, and it will be your money that youre wagering. Bingo is offered daily; cards cost up to $30. Special interest: Youll pay extra for computer classes, skeet shooting, wine tasting or golf simulation time. You decide if its worth it. Art Auctions: Its easy to get caught up in the excitement of auction bidding. This can add considerably to the cost of your cruise, but if its a painting you really want to own, it may be worthwhile. Port tours: Theyre beautifully described in the brochure and you certainly want to see the countryside and landmarks in these ports. Determine if youll be happy being herded onto a large bus with 48 other people or it you prefer to have a taxi take you to the sites that you really want to see (see my tip #9). Its easy to research your destinations on the Internet and plan your own tour in port, usually at a much lower cost and more leisurely pace. Tips: Gratuities are a personal matter. We generally follow the ships recommendations and provide something extra for those who went above and beyond to assist us during our cruise. My Top Ten Tips For Enjoying Your Cruise (you wont find in the Celebrity brochure) 1. Wear a smile. A smile is a universal greeting that is always welcome. And, when you smile at others, youll receive one in return. Its a great way to make friends on the ship. Even if you are traveling with a group, reach out to meet others and youll find new friends in every area of the ship. 2. Want to go home with cruise line branded souvenirs without paying for them in the gift shop? Participate! Every day there are prizes to be won, and you dont have to make a fool of yourself to win something. Go to the free-to-participate trivia contests, the guessing game of the day or the name that tune challenge and you might walk out with Celebrity coffee mugs, luggage tags, pens, lanyards, sun visors and tee-shirts. Bigger prizes are offered to bingo winners, but youll have to pay to play. 3. The Aqua Spa Café (on deck 10 in the thalassotherapy pool area) features some of the very best food on the ship. Thats because the chef for Infinitys specialty restaurant, the United States, is also the chef for this barely-discovered café. Each day they serve a light and healthy breakfast with fresh mango, cranberry juice and fruit-filled muffinsitems not found on the main buffet breakfast. At lunchtime, youll have 4 low-calorie, health-oriented choices (cold chicken with cashews, salmon tartare, chefs salad, tofu rollups, and vegetarian entrees) to choose from, as well as 2 cooked-to-order items (broiled tilapia was outstanding) that change daily. These same menu choices are available through the dinner hours. And, they feature two desserts each day that are low calorie, yet beautifully designed and presented. There is no additional charge for the food in this café. 4. Women who want a line-free suntan for that bare-it sexy top can find topless sunbathing on deck 13 forward. No, the elevator wont take you there! And, the ship crew denies that it exists, but its there. Just climb the forward outside stairs to deck 12 and then look up. Youll see the cotton material screened off area at the top of the next flight of stairs. No kids or gawkers, please. 5. Wish you could have afforded concierge class or a suite, but still want fresh fruit each day in your room? Do it yourself! Choose an apple or a banana at the breakfast buffet and take it back to your room for an afternoon snack. Your room steward will be happy to provide you with a plate, napkins, and utensils. 6. Its dinner time in the Trellis restaurant and nothing on the menu really appeals to your taste buds. Every night you can order these items that dont appear on the Trellis restaurant menu: shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, grilled salmon filet, broiled chicken breast or NY strip steak. 7. Still more food choices on Celebrity ships: theres hot pizza every day (and into the late night hours) and theyll make a custom pizza with your choice of toppings. The buffet offers 4 entrée choices and youll have 4 more choices in the Trellis dining room. They are cooking hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs and chicken breasts at the poolside grill. Theres a customized pasta toss, salad bar, sandwiches with potato chips, or tortilla wraps at the other end of the buffet. Many afternoons, there are free specialty snacks on deck 10 in the aft outdoor deck. Sushi is offered most days from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Five choices of ice cream are offered from noon to 10 p.m. every day. And, you can find freshly-baked cookies from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Cova Café, and appetizers and cookies from 4 to 5 p.m. in the buffet. Dining at the S.S. United States is available each night by reservation for a $30 per person cover charge. Or, choose to eat at alternative casual dining from 6 to 10 p.m. (reservations requested and a $2. per person charge). Starting at 11:30 p.m., waiters bring trays of nibbles to the night owls in all the public areas of the ship. 8. Its a relaxing day at sea and youre getting a bit warm sitting in the sun by the pool. Hang on until 2:00 on those at sea days and enjoy the Celebrity tradition of Sorbet on Parade. Waiters bring trays of frozen fruit sorbet to you so you can cool off without jumping into the pool. Dont miss this refreshing delight! 9. Book your own tours in port. Youll find great suggestions from other cruisers in the Boards Section (scroll down to ports of call) on Cruise Critic. In most ports, there are tour operators with small vans waiting on the pier and offering customized excursions. In Aruba, we teamed up with another couple to hire a taxi for 2 hours to take us to the 4 specific sites we wanted to see. Or, go to www.shoretrips.com for some interesting suggestions. 10. What to bring/ what to leave at home? Dont pack a robe, beach towels or an alarm clock. There is a Celebrity robe and beach towel for each person in your cabin to use while you are on the ship, although theres a hefty charge if you decide to take them with you at the end of the cruise. And, the telephone in your stateroom has a convenient alarm clock feature. Dont pack clothes that are already a little tight before starting your cruise (why? Re-read tip number 7.) Do pack: a highlighter (to mark the daily activity sheet); a small pad of 3x3-inch post-it notes (to leave messages on the mirror for your roommate or spouse); a rubber band (put it around your wallet to deter pickpockets in port); a potato chip bag clip (to hold the drapes closed in your stateroom), a flashlight or small nightlight; a paper clip (to use as a bookmark that wont blow away in the wind), and your own hair conditioner (shampoo is provided, but after several days at sea, youll want the softness that only your conditioner provides). 11. Bonus tips: The Celebrity library features many recent titles, and also offers a small area for a free book exchange. Its always quiet time in your cabin because Celebrity public address announcements are only broadcast in the hallways and public areas. Bring a 6-pack of bottled water or your favorite soft drink and ask your room steward to remove the overpriced goodies in the refrigerator in your room. For those cruisers who are traveling with children, Celebritys child care staff does an outstanding job of keeping youngsters busy, happy and out of sight. If you are sensitive to the sun, youll enjoy the solarium pool which is free to anyone over the age of 18 (another child-free zone). Usually on the last day of the cruise, the spa offers low-cost specials. If you buy at least 100 shares of RCL stock, you can obtain a shipboard credit for your cruise (see www.royalcaribbean.com for details). Most importantly, relax, have fun, enjoy the sights and sounds of your vacation at sea! Celebrity will treat you famously! Read Less