We went on this Celebrity Infinity cruise with several friends from our church who were all very interested in seeing the Holy Land. As I'd previously had a marvelous experience with Celebrity to Bermuda in 1995--indeed, of nine or so ... Read More
We went on this Celebrity Infinity cruise with several friends from our church who were all very interested in seeing the Holy Land. As I'd previously had a marvelous experience with Celebrity to Bermuda in 1995--indeed, of nine or so cruises I had taken, they were my favorite (prior to Royal Caribbean's acquisition of the company in 1997). So, it was quite a surprise to get to the ship terminal in Rome and discover that the culture had changed.
Perhaps Royal Caribbean's culture had overtaken Celebrity's--I cannot be sure, as I've also taken Royal Caribbean, and didn't remember the awful hard-sell when I sailed that line. However, as soon as we hit the ship terminal (around 10:45 am, and a good point in Celebrity's favor is that we were one of the first to board in a smoothly-organized fashion), there were employees coming up to us and selling drinks packages, themed restaurants, etc. Multiple people, multiple times. This surprised me.
It did not stop there, either. The moment we headed to the Oceanview Cafe to rest prior to our stateroom availability, there they were--easily 20 pitches from 20 different bar staff to sign up for drinks packages. So, a sour start. The funny thing was that I already had a drinks package, but, once they heard that, they started to pester the friends with us that didn't. When declined, they left pretty quickly, only for the next person pitching the package to come by minutes later.
The other side of the coin is that it's likely the staff are pressed to push these things--drinks, specialty dinners, shore excursions, etc. Because, outside of this annoyance, they are fabulous people. We were satisfied with the service, and everyone was really pleasant, even when you were telling them "no". The selling died down as the cruise progressed, and we were able to relax a little more.
The condition of the ship really didn't bother me--I certainly understand the impression that the furnishings were tired (indeed, they did not appear new), but, everything did appear clean around the ship. In our stateroom, the only things that I really didn't want to sit on or use were the upholstered couch, the runner across the tip of the bed, and the decorative pillows. Old upholstery is not synonymous with clean upholstery, though I saw nothing particularly gross on it. I'd have appreciated a spare sheet to drape over the couch.
The veranda was nice--we spent several hours on our balcony each day that we didn't have activities scheduled in port. Worth it, for us.
One thing to note--if you are subject to "earworms", note that there is one track of Euro-Pop that continuously plays in the interior hallways, cafe, channel 31 on the TV, and upper level cabana-type deck outside. So, you'll be able to say, "Oh, yes, that's 'Another Day is Over, and All I Ask Is to Share the Next One with You, and it is followed two songs later by the one with a lot of whistling'". Perhaps I'm overly sensitized to this, as there was one Holland America cruise I took several years back where only one song played over and over--Kenny Loggins' "This Is It". That one really stayed with me.
Showers were nice and hot--remember that you have to push a 38 degrees Celsius button and twist the knob beyond it to get the water to run above lukewarm. Wish I had known that before day 5!
I was generally quite satisfied with the food. The savory items, that is. Desserts were definitely not a strong point for any of the dining rooms, specialty restaurants, cafe, and in the buffet, but, I always liked the creme brulee (which I usually had, when in the main Trellis dining room).
Specialty restaurants were generally good--they should be, since you are paying $40-$50 per head to dine there. My favorite was Tuscan Grille--we actually ate there three nights, and weren't disappointed at any. The Creamy Burrata/tomato salad with croutons with balsamic was to die for, as were the Italian meatballs, and Lobster pasta. If you go, ask for Volkano. He's the best, will treat you like family, and load you with great selections.
Qsine was fun, and my husband's favorite, kind of a novel "video on the plate" concept.
Didn't try the sushi restaurant, but, note that it's per piece-charged, and not a single cover price.
Back to the selling--also noted in the Canyon Ranch spa setup. Now, If I am going to pay over $300 (more like $392 when you add in tip) for their over-the-top "invigorating ritual" composed of multi-step masks, wraps, and massage, I feel like I really shouldn't be plugged to buy expensive spa products--that adds nothing to the sense of relaxation. Couched in terms of my physical needs, such as "your heels are very dry--we've got something for that", and "for that cellulite at the back of your legs, we've got something for that" to justify the hard sell. Really? When I refused the products (no luggage space, the truth), the sale points morphed into "well, we can send them by mail". Deferred again, then it became,"Well, I see you have another treatment scheduled on 9/27, we'll discuss this again." Needless to say, I canceled all subsequent appointments.
Another thought--the spa is not set up well for multi-step treatments. The room was cold, open, and bright, and though she (masseuse) did place a sleep mask over my face when I was supine, when prone, I was looking at a bright linoleum floor. Further, the process necessitated getting up twice for showering off various products. Not too relaxing. Further, the exercise room was right next to the massage room, making for a noisy, thumping backbeat over the calm spa music.
Entertainment was enjoyable. I'm generally not big on Broadway or magicians, but did go to a few of the musical entertainers (a violinist, a trumpeter, and some celebrity review acts). Of note was that the ship crowd was much older (many more like my parents' age, in the 80s), so, if you are looking for nightlife, you may want to think twice. At least in September. I think I saw fewer than 5 kids the whole cruise, all of them pretty young.
Ports and Shore Excursions--enjoyed these, Malta, Catania through the ship. Our Sorrento tour got canceled due to lack of interest. The Israel, Crete, and Rome tours were through an independent cruise tour venue.
Didn't do many enrichment activities through the ship. One $15 photography class for iPhones, which pretty much taught me that I need to learn a lot more, and I still can't delete more than one photo at a time...hence below for "enrichment activities" I just put "average", since there's no "n/a" option. Likewise for fitness.
Disembarkation was smooth.
So, to summarize--wonderful staff, but, the high-pressure sales tactics we experienced ensured that I will not go back on Celebrity. Read Less