Cruise review Celebrity Infinity Sept. 4 to 13, 2015
Let me begin by saying this cruise in many ways met or exceeded our expectations, and was a very nice vacation. We appreciated our more experienced Cruise Critic friends who gave us ... Read More
Cruise review Celebrity Infinity Sept. 4 to 13, 2015
Let me begin by saying this cruise in many ways met or exceeded our expectations, and was a very nice vacation. We appreciated our more experienced Cruise Critic friends who gave us so many valuable tips before we even began. We have cruised on Crystal, Disney, Princess, and NCL as well as Celebrity, but it has been several years. We felt that it was a privilege to be able to go, and we were happy to be able to make the trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.
Embarkation was a breeze. Directed into San Francisco’s spacious new Pier 27, we walked right up to a Celebrity representative, presented our documents and passports and obtained our Sea Pass cards. Celebrity Infinity’s décor was classy and calming. The itinerary was delightful, the seas were calm, and the captain and crew were very efficient and approachable to guests. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. The entertainment was impressive and occasionally surprising. Everywhere surfaces were being constantly cleaned. We did not have to wait for anything; not for a table for dinner, or tenders to shore.
There were always plenty of lounges by the pool area with fresh towels. We always had our choice of seats in the theatre for shows, even just before curtain. Our Cruise Director, Patti, was helpful and informative. She was at her best when she performed, as she has a lovely singing voice. Wait staff were polite and professional. The seamen manning the shore tenders knew their business and gave a steady and strong grasp of our elbows getting in and out of the boats. The shore crews greeted us going and coming back with ice water, cold punch, and icy cooling towels. This was especially appreciated because of the very warm weather. It was hotter than expected in every port!
Our cabin was Concierge Class 2, a balcony on the starboard side, 8088. It was quiet, having staterooms above and below us, though as we were midship, we did hear some early morning sounds as they opened the hatches and prepared the tenders for launching. This was OK with us; it was interesting to watch the process from our balcony. We liked being close to the ship’s library on deck eight, with cozy chairs for reading.
We could not have had better or more attentive stewards than Raphael and his assistant Antonio. The cabin was small, and we had to walk single file around the end of the bed, but the bed was spacious and comfortable. I liked the soft leaf designed night light in the bathroom, the open shelves for our things, and the roomy shower with grab bars. There were built in hooks on the inside of the bathroom door and a set on the cabin wall. There were plenty of wooden hangers in the closet. Raphael surprised us one night with two swan towel animals kissing and red rose petals scattered on our bed! Lovely!
Now I would like to give readers, (including Celebrity Corporate), a heads up about things that were upsetting and need to be improved. The first disappointment came moments after we stepped onboard at the shore excursion desk. We had a fixed amount of onboard credit and had budgeted it carefully for excursions, specialty dining, and photography, obtaining the prices from Celebrity’s website. Our Sausalito & Muir Woods tour we expected to pay $69.75 each for, was now $89.75 each. The Avalon Scenic & Botanical Garden price listed on their website was $39.75 each; onboard it became $49.75 each. We went to the concierge desk the following day and asked about the discrepancy. We were told that it was a common complaint and that nothing could be done. Perhaps assertiveness or asking again for clarity of policy for my upcoming online review made an impression, but we were extended the difference of $60.00 in OBC as a, “courtesy.”
Another problem that we encountered right away was water. We had the Classic Beverage Package, and were assured many times by Celebrity and our travel agent that it included all water, soft drinks and some alcoholic drinks onboard. We don’t drink, so we already knew that we were not going to cost the ship much with our consumption. We had the stewards clean out the mini bar right away, leaving some ginger ale and bottled water. We asked them to just fill it with liters of water. Imagine how surprised we were when they started leaving checks for each bottle of Evian, $5.50 per bottle, .98 cents gratuity, 48 cents tax, total $6.97 for each bottle! When we objected they sheepishly explained that we would have to get and sign for our water at one of the bars, (liter bottles of Crystal Geyser were covered by the beverage package, Evian delivered to our room was not), and bring it down to our cabin ourselves! Really? This policy is just silly and annoying. It put us on our guard and made us feel that instead of relaxing we had to be checking our bill constantly. We had to request, leave sticky notes, and we tipped extra, to get ice in our bucket every day. So, here is a suggestion: Make money on the casino, art auctions, shops, classes, and spa treatments. Treat your guests graciously and put carafes of ice water in our cabins daily.
The most disturbing ongoing problem came with the photography department. I had waited on hold forever pre cruise to get the word from a Celebrity representative what it would cost for the whole photography package: all prints taken, a CD, a written copyright release, and the souvenir DVD of the voyage. We were told it would be $255.00 for everything, and we planned for that, getting our picture taken as often as we could. When we approached the photo people, they claimed that we could definitely NOT get any of the prints, and a CD for that price, and they refused to give us a paper copy release, saying it was unnecessary. They took some wonderful pictures of us; they are good photographers, but we were required to search every night for our pictures in the gallery, and hand them over to them for our “packet.” We got none of these prints. We paid $234.99 for one CD of our pictures and the DVD. All of our prints were left behind and destroyed. I was very sad. So, my advice would be to get an e-mail from Celebrity stating what the cost will be for your photo package before you go. Then you will have it in writing.
By the way, they relied heavily on previous footage for the souvenir DVD. Muir woods was shot at least a year before the drought by the look of the water in the creek. Avalon footage was charming, until the ship was shown anchored in the bay, “Celebrity Century.” Oops! The footage of San Francisco could have been our voyage, but they spelled Wharf, “Warf.” C’Mon, guys!! Footage shot of the Sizzle deck party was not included; why not? Was it too much trouble to edit it?
Entertainment was very good. We especially enjoyed David Meyer on his xylo-synthesizer. Amazing energetic performance! We bought his CD. Ukrainian aerialists Tibi and Vika were jaw-dropping artists and athletes. Comedian Dean Gaines made us laugh with his jokes and presidential impressions. We attended his G-rated show. Colleen Williamson was engaging, as she was as good an actress as she was a singer. The Infinity orchestra was outstanding. The ship’s Production Cast singers and dancers were better than we have seen on other cruise lines. We just wished the choreographers in Florida who design the shows would have given them better material to express their talents. More storyline and less flashing their fannies in skimpy costumes would be welcome. They were fine young people and taught dance classes very well.
Our shore excursions were OK, but Muir Woods was very crowded because of the Labor Day weekend, and people didn’t seem to know how to be quiet and reverent among the trees. In Sausalito we were just dropped off on the main street for 35 minutes and pointed towards the local ice cream place. Our Avalon Scenic and Botanical Garden on Catalina was an open air double tram with a good guide who drove us up the narrow roads to see the views. It was very hot! Without our cooling towels we never would have made it. The Botanical Garden was very disappointing, as the plants and shrubs were all encaged to keep protected wildlife out, and they were dying from lack of rainfall. We faced a long uphill climb on a dirt road to see Wrigley’s Mausoleum and decided to wait in the shade instead. The tour did not include the historic Casino Ballroom, and we thought that it did. Unfortunately it was too hot to walk there on our own in the afternoon, so we returned earlier than we planned to the ship, (and its air conditioning!)
In Monterey we went to church and lunched with friends, in Santa Barbara we took the city electric bus up State Street and enjoyed the view of the city and the bay from the courthouse. Santa Barbara had loads of helpful guides to meet us onshore. It was September 11th and the Young Republicans from UC Santa Barbara made a display of American flags stuck in the beach for every life lost in the attacks. It was very colorful and moving. San Diego was Sea World on our own. Military folks, (active duty and retired), can enjoy four complimentary tickets. We got off the ship in Ensenada only to go to the dock market and buy Mexican vanilla. My husband bought me a pair of lovely silver and opal earrings.
Food and Specialty restaurants: The Ocean View Café Deck 10 was a daily lavish buffet with something for every taste. Breakfast had four omelet stations, again reducing the wait time. I was particularly impressed with the salad bar, the four carving stations, (two on each side), the fresh breads, and the pasta station. Usually four or five choices of pasta were offered which were then heated while your sauce of choice was stir fried in a skillet with olive oil, artichoke hearts, garlic, or a wide variety of other meats and vegetables, then sautéed together and finished off with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Yum! The tables were kept bused and clean. The bar servers were always on hand to ask if you wanted something from the bar. The pizza was just OK, but the buttered garlic bread there was a daily temptation. The ice cream and sorbet bar was available from noon to 10:30 pm, and the sugar free flavors were good, too. There were juices, coffees, teas, and herbal teas to drink. They had all other non sugar sweeteners, but not stevia, so if you use it, bring your own. The only fault I found was the self serve glasses were only 4 ounces, so you had to keep getting up to refill them. Again, the water issue. There are signs on the machines asking you to not refill water bottles there.
We got the dining package offered as soon as we boarded; 1 dinner in SS United States, 1 dinner in Qsine, and 1 meal in Bistro on Five, the crepe restaurant, for $85.00 per person. We dined the first night at SS United States, and had the Chateaubriand for two which was melt in your mouth beef! Service was excellent, extra tipping expected. At Qsine we wished the server would have warned us about the big portions. We had to scale back on what we originally ordered because we were stuffed. The food was delicious, particularly the Mediterranean kebobs and the meatballs. We had crepes on the last day for lunch at Bistro on Five. The flank steak and the chicken were both very good. The flaw here was the milkshakes. They are delicious, but the server has to run down the hall to the Café al Bacio Geleteria to get the ice cream, so they are often a long wait.
We liked the Apple Store onboard and the classes were very popular. We learned a couple of new things. The Canyon Ranch Spa was overpriced of course, but Kusuma from Thailand gave an absolutely superior massage!
Because we don’t drink alcohol we were offered to try the only alcohol free “wine” onboard, the red and white “Fre” brand. Now, granted we know little to nothing about wine tasting, but it was awful! Cellar Masters sommelier wouldn’t even talk to us about alcohol free juice, and dismissed us in a snobby manner. May I suggest that Celebrity can do better for its teetotaler guests by offering choices such as Gwurztraminer white and red grape juices bottled by Navarro Vineyards in Northern California. We discovered these at Club 33 at Disneyland and they are light, crisp, and delicious! Probably the Friends of Bill W. would appreciate it too.
In summary, we felt that our TA offered us a good deal; the cabin we wanted, and the 1, 2, 3 Go promotion of: gratuities paid, classic beverage package, and $300 Celebrity OBC, in addition to the OBC they offered. We will probably go that route again. The unforgettable and thrilling moments of the cruise were kissing as our ship sailed under the Golden Gate, watching the sun rise at our tender ports, and meeting new friends from the UK. Read Less