Our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity was from Valparaiso cruising Northward seeing South America, Panamagg Canal and ending in Ft Lauderdale. Let me discuss some of the pre-cruise events.
Our flight to Santiago was uneventful with the airport recovering from the 2010 earthquake which significantly damaged the International airport. Our private tour guides, Sergio and Annaliese from Perfect Day tours where perfect hosts and gave us a customized tour of Vineyards, Isla Negra, Vina Del Mar and dropped us off in our Valparaiso B&B called Hostel Morgan. The B&B was reasonable, in a fun area with many food options but a bit noisy at night. Thankfully, we had earplugs!
Embarkation was easy and reasonably efficient. The cab was 8,000 pesos which included 2,000 peso tip.
While most of the ports of call were arranged using private excursions (all amazing), we did arrange two Celebrity tours with Celebrity. The full day tour to the Altiplano from the port of Arica was amazing with Llamas, Guanacos, Vincunas, Alpakas, and Chilean Flamingos. The guide was informative and fun. The next port excursion with Celebrity from Pisco to the Ballestra Isle which also had great views of bird and sea animals but the trip was delayed with a late arrival of our boat. Leaving less time for wildlife.
The Celebrity Infinity staff welcomed us onboard. The crew needed a long time to clean and sanitize any ship based in South American typically struggle to control Noro that's brought in from SA ports. They did keep us comfortable in the buffet until our rooms were ready at 4pm. Our stateroom was clean and in good order except for a broken telephone which we reported to our stewards when they came to meet us.
The Celebrity Infinity main dining room service was excellent and the staff was top-notch. Our food was as good or better than other cruise lines we have used (HAL and NCL). The at sea teaching classes were also good providing good information and background on the upcoming ports and culture of the ports/countries that we would visit.
However, the entertainment onboard was poor and wasn't appropriate for a South American cruise. Seeing poor Broadway shows and performers from everywhere but South America was disappointing. On other cruise lines, when we would pull into a port, they would have periodically have culturally relevant shows (e.g., in Scotland on a 2013 cruise, we had Scottish Bagpipers and on a trip with a port call in Istanbul, we had a Turkish dancers). The entertainment was unimaginative and inappropriate with some singers who were off-key. I've seen High School musicals which showed more imagination.
We used one shore excursion from the ship and it was delayed (with our group losing an hour waiting for a boat and guide). Very upset cruisers who had to stand in the sun for an hour by the pier waiting.
My phone voice mail system wasn't operational for the entire cruise which hampered our Cruise Critic groups from getting together or updating tour. We called repeatedly throughout the two-week cruise and finally got a senior staff member who indicated that "it's a French voicemail system and we've been having issues with it". However, I would not that after noting this on a comment card, they gave us some onboard credit (so at least they finally tried to provide restitution for our inconvenience).
I'll likely not use Celebrity in the future based on price/ value but did enjoy the South American ports and Panama Canal.
Broken Voice Mail system which hampered coordination with other Cruise Critic members. Some plumbing issues but likely caused by other cruisers throwing items into the toilet that weren't authorized.
Loved Sergio of Perro tours who gave us a customized tour - great to be back in South America and exploring the Valparaiso area beyond the standard tours.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Amazing views from the Observation center of the new or expansion canal that's a year or so from being complete. We also enjoyed the old canal's viewing area where ships come within a few feet of the observation area. We also enjoyed the San Lorenzo fort and nearby birds. However, Robtad had issues with English which lead to several miscommunications. He also had incorrect information on the old canal equipment (e.g., that the mules were steam driven as well as technical details of the canal) as compared with McCullough's book called Pathway between the Seas.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Excellent with an experience, seasoned guide named Ester who was able to answer all questions and provide us with a great understanding of the city and the country. Such a prosperous city that has made great economic progress over the last 30 years. Ester was able to communicate the positive changes that made the city prosperous. We were also able to stop and buy a few items made by local artisans within the city. Fun city to visit.View All undefined undefined Reviews