My husband and I are recent retirees and are always looking for good value cruises. Since we were also celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, we were also looking for something special. We found both in this 16 night repositioning ... Read More
My husband and I are recent retirees and are always looking for good value cruises. Since we were also celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, we were also looking for something special. We found both in this 16 night repositioning cruise (sort of) from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale, traversing the Panama Canal. Celebrity is currently running this cruise as a 14 day from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale and back. The fare was $1050 PP for an oceanview cabin (cruise only). Obviously some paid more, some less, but this was a bargain for us. This was our third Celebrity cruise (36th overall), but it had been 10 years since we last sailed on Celebrity (Zenith and Mercury), so I was anxious to see if there had been significant changes.
The ship is really very impressive; wonderful common areas with soft muted colors and decor. The environment is one of serenity and comfort and there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the voyage.
Embarkation in Seattle was fairly easy. We arrived around 11:00 a.m., dropped our luggage and checked in almost immediately. Since it was early, staterooms were not ready, but passengers were allowed on-board and met with Champagne and mimosas. Lunch was served on Deck 10 and we roamed the ship to see where everything was located.
The Infinity offers a more than adequate fitness center, several outdoor pools and hot tubs, a two level library, a cinema, and several lounges and bars for entertainment. Celebrity also has the thelossotherapy pool area, which is covered and offers a spa like experience. It is a large warm water pool used for relaxing and jet therapy on those tired muscles. A nice touch. The deck chairs in that area are wood and quite comfortable and there are several curtained table areas for eating or cards, etc. Inside the pool area is a special "spa-type" buffet for those who want to eat healthier or lighter.
As for food - Celebrity still excels at menu diversity, presentation and taste. Each day/evening offered meals to excite the palate, some familiar, some providing an adventure in trying new dishes. There are also "always available" items, such as chicken and steak, ceasar salad, shrimp cocktail, french onion soup, creme brulee' and cheesecake - just in case any particular menu didn't tickle your fancy. We were never disappointed. My only negative in the restaurant was an unfortunate incident regarding the sommalier. We had brought a bottle of wine on board to enjoy in our stateroom. (BTW, Celebrity's written policy on this is to allow passengers to bring wine on board only at embarkation. Spirits and/or wine purchased at ports of call were supposed to be confiscated and returned to passengers on the last sea day. Unfortunately, this policy was not consistent, resulting in some issues with passengers.) We had already decorked the bottle and wanted to share it with our new table mates. I asked the maitre-d' if it was ok to bring the bottle to the table uncorked and he assured me it was fine. Understand, Celebrity charges $25 to decork wine that is not purchased on board. When the sommalier came to our table, he was perturbed that we had brought the wine and proceeded to grill me as to where I got it, wanted my stateroom number, etc. Needless to say I was put off by his behavior and assured him I had asked first. We were not trying to get around the policy, since we purchased several bottles of wine during the cruise, but this was a wine not available on board and we wanted to share it.
Celebrity also has a specialty restaurant, The United States, which looked elegant and quiet, but we didn't dine there, mainly due to the very high service charge ($35 PP). They tell us that is really for tipping, but I don't know many people who tip $70 for a meal, no matter how nice it is.
The normal buffet food was as expected, good but not surprising, but the Infinity also has alternate choices; a pizza station, outdoor grill, deli (excellent sandwiches and wraps), a pasta station and Asian cuisine. There were two ice cream areas and I'm told Celebrity makes their own ice cream. Whoever made it, it was a hit, and flavors were diffferent and varied every day. Examples - You could get cinnamon, pear sorbet, blueberry frozen yogurt, raspberry and of course, vanilla, chocoate and strawberry. Soft serve was also available. However, it was not open 24 hrs, so "in between" meal areas could not always be satisfied with ice cream.
Live entertainment was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly, because we have become used to "cruise ship" entertainers. Some are good, some are not, but usually the entertainment isn't memorable. However, the Celebrity singers and dancers were exceptional. First, there were more of them and the featured vocalists (2 men and 2 women) also danced and participated in the choreography. Although there weren't very many review shows, the three we saw were well planned, executed professionally and were very entertaining. Kudos to Celebrity! We also were entertained by a wonderful jazz violinist, a great male singer (more operatic, but provided a nice range of song styles), a female broadway singer, a pianist and magician (nice close up work). Not all entertainers were exceptional, but those that were, made the overall experience memorable. The cruise director, Allen King, and his staff were first rate, friendly, accommodating and funny.
Ports of call - San Diego, California; Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco and Acapulco, Mexico, Puntarenas,Costa Rica and Catagena, Columbia. You could also disembark prior to going through the Canal for some excursions. Being frequent cruisers, with been there, done that experience, we did not book any shore excursions from Celebrity. Instead we hired vans with another couple at Acapulco and Costa Rica and enjoyed great tours for much less than similar tours offered on board. Highlights - cliff divers in Acapulco, Crocodile tour in Costa Rica and walking on the beach in Huatulco. As expected for this time of year, the Mexican Ports were hot and humid, so time spent outside could be uncomfortable. Cartagena proved a bit unnerving, since there were armed security and military personnel everywhere and the venders are extremely aggressive. We didn't feel unsafe, just uncomfortable.
On board, there are several shops, the art gallery - hosting the pre-requisite art auctions, several wine tastings and seminars, movie showings throughout the day, and a number of life affirming lectures. Activities were subdued (not much around the pool), but lessons on water color, language (Spanish), and dance were available. Sea days brought trivia and TV type games (Family Feud, 1 Against 100,etc.) and of course, bingo. The casino was more than adequate, but this cruise did not have very many gamblers, so the casino staff was bummed.
All in all, a great cruise vacation, with negatives very minimal. However, I wouldn't recommend it for honeymooners or families with young children. Although there was a children's area, this particular cruise was filled with more mature passengers and I would guess any young people would have felt the activities were lame and the fellow passengers not their cup of tea.
BTW, one of the really nice perks - Celebrity believes in minimal intrusive announcements, so you aren't inundated with "sale" and "bingo" announcements every 15 minutes.
Disembarkation was a piece of cake. Called by luggage tag color - we were off the ship by 8:30 and at the airport a little after 9:00 a.m. Read Less