My husband had a cruise through the Panama Canal on his bucket list and this cruise on the Celebrity Infinity coincided with his birthday. We had been looking at Royal Caribbean itineraries and was surprised (and disappointed) to find that RC had ceded the Panama Canal routes to their new sister company Celebrity. I booked the cruise on the Celebrity Infinity without his knowledge and surprised him with it during a family vacation 11 months before departure. The good news - we sailed out of San Francisco during Fleet Week. The bad news - there was a huge convention in town in the days before we sailed and hotel rooms in the city were very expensive. We booked 2 nights at The Donatello through AirBnB, used some United miles to book 2 business class tickets, (over) packed our bags, and off we went. We booked a private pick up from SFO through Super Shuttle (ExecuCar) and were met promptly by a very nice driver in a large clean SUV. Even with traffic (baseball playoff game that night) it didn't take long to get to the hotel. We had dinner reservations at LuLu that night and walked the 1.2 miles each way. Next day we visited Fisherman's Wharf, had lunch with my husband's aunt and cousin at Water Bar on the Embarcadero and actually saw our ship in port.
The next day we went to a diner (Jersey style) for breakfast, checked out, hopped in a cab, and went to the port. Our check in time was 11:30am and we got there around 10:15am. A Holland American ship had arrived that morning and the curb area was a zoo (people arguing over our cab before we were even out of it). Porter took our ship tagged bags and we walked back to Fisherman's Wharf. We came back about 11am and check in was open. A few minutes in line to get our SeaPass cards and off through security. The escalators were down so we either had to wait for the elevator or walk up stairs to get to the gangway. We chose the stairs - not great but not too bad. Photo ops abounded. We politely declined and no one pressed us. Once on board we headed for the pool deck to await the start of the airshow featuring the Blue Angels. This happy coincidence was a great way to start. Talk about a bird's eye view! All hallway doors were closed - cabins wouldn't be ready until 1:30pm. This surprised us as the ship was in port a full day and only a few passengers stayed to take the next cruise.
Hallways were opened on our deck at about 1:15pm and I took our carry ons in to unpack. This was our first time in a suite. Our experience was so great that we will do our best to never sail without being in a suite again. We had a walk in closet and spacious balcony and enough room in the cabin that we didn't feel cramped. Our bags were very late coming up (first in last out?). Our butler John and cabin steward Pamela had to go down to search for them. After our lifeboat drill (no vests) we were underway. We sailed past Alcatraz and right under the Golden Gate bridge as we headed south towards Mexico. An amazing experience.
We had done some research before we left and saw that this cabin had an obstructed view. The lifeboats and the pulleys start on deck 5. On RC the lifeboats are tucked under the balconies - we never saw them in any balcony cabin we ever had on RC. Celebrity sticks them out in the open. Perhaps as Celebrity builds new ships they'll change this. It was more than annoying considering we were in a suite. I corresponded with Celebrity prior to sailing asking for specific considerations. Denied, denied, denied. They did offer us first chance at another suite if one opened up. At +$17,000 we declined. It really only affected us as we went through the Canal we couldn't see the sides from our balcony. Still annoying though.
The Sky Suites have a bathtub, however, it's a BIG step into that tub (no separate shower) and you're standing up high when you finally get in. It's a BIG step out too. There are handrails to grasp on the way in but not much on the way out. I always felt as if the bathmat was going to slip out from underneath me.
The bed, pillows, and sheets were pretty comfortable. We had an armchair and a couch too. The balcony was without a table which would have been nice for morning coffee. One of our new friends didn't have one either but saw that the suites on either side of her did. She asked for one and her butler found one for her. The "lounge" chairs on the balcony are actually short chairs that recline with footstools.
This was in Guatemala. Port looks relatively new. We couldn't find an excursion that we liked through the ship so we did some research and found the hot spring pools at Santa Theresita. There were tours but we contacted the resort directly. They answered promptly and we arranged private transportation and chose from their spa menu. Oscar greeted us at the peer and off we went in the hotel van to the resort. It's a good 1:15 from the port. Easy drive past lots of sugar cane fields to Amatitlan. The hotel has rooms that look like underground bunkers. Nice and cool, well appointed. There was a group of American doctors staying at the hotel that were in Guatemale to perform humanitarian surgeries. The resort only has 15 rooms but has 2 pools including one for kids with slides, etc. The spa has thermal pools that are heated by the volcanoes (you'll see 2 of them smoking). There is an attendant who makes sure you do the circuit correctlly and on time (first circuit is 10 minutes per pool. then 5 minutes per pool). There are 4 pools - Hottest, cold, hot, hotter. After our pool circuit we had 90 minute massages (in lieu of 50 minute massage + 50 minute coffee/cocoa scrub), then a private steam room with thermal tub and cooling shower. Smoothies come with your visit, however, there was a warning from the ship not to eat or drink anything if we didn't know exactly where it came from so drank only the bottled water we brought from the ship. Oscar had us back to the ship in plenty of time. A tour bus filled with passengers from our ship arrived sometime during our time there but they only stayed about an hour and didn't have full access to venue like we did.
we had booked an excursion that included zip lining, horse back riding, and a boat trip. The heat and humidity were affecting me adversely and I didn't think I'd be able to do such a long excursion in long pants (for the zip lining and riding) so we cancelled. We wanted to go to the beach, however, the beach at the port is black sand and the water doesn't look very inviting. We went shopping at the port instead. We met people who found a local food store and bought local coffee there and paid much less than we did.