Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by Gabriel Calin
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Antarctica
- Cabin Type: Concierge Class 3
Just a trip overview, we booked a veranda cabin, deck 8, in the Celebrity Infinity, for the Buenos Aires > Puerto Madryn > Ushuaia > Antartica (Paradise Bay and Elephant Island) > Falkland Island > Montevideo > Buenos Aires itinerary. It was a somewhat expensive itinerary if compared to other cruises in the region, so our expectations were high.
We planned this trip for almost a year. The cruise left Buenos Aires on 21th Jan 2018.
About a week before the departure date we received an email from Celebrity Cruises informing the Puerto Madryn stop was canceled. Copy and pasting their own email message:
"Due to a technical issue with the ship’s propulsion system, as a precaution, we will have to reduce our maximum speed by a few knots. We assure you, there is no safety issue with the vessel; however, due to the speed reduction, we have to modify our itinerary. Some ports of call will have shortened visit times, while some will have more time.
We also had to remove our visit to Puerto Madryn, Argentina from the itinerary. Due to the cancellation of this port of call, we are issuing each guest a refund in the amount equal to one day of your vacation."
My wife and I planned to dive in Puerto Madryn with the sea lions. All our scuba gear was already packed to go and the dive package reserved at a local PADI agent. You can imagine our frustration...
We embarked on the 21th as planned.
About Celebrity Infinity, despite some review we read, it is not falling apart. It is indeed an old ship, somewhat worn out. Stained carpets, peeling paint, scratches here and there are visible, but we consider those minor things. I noticed, however, some other not so minor problems, like leaking plumbing in several places (that left wet spots on the carpets), air conditioning failures (that left some friends in internal rooms overheating), external doors hard to open/close, and massive temperature changes in the hot/cold water supplies.
There were also some smaller annoyances in our stateroom, like loose tiles in the bathroom floor and leaks in the shower hoses. We usually ignore these small things, but as you see ahead, events stack up.
About the food, it was nice and plentiful. All restaurants we went to were nice. Particularly I would say that some dish on the main dining room, Trelis, was somewhat small (especially the ones with expensive ingredients) and with unexpected component mixes, but this is a matter of taste. The buffet on Deck 11 always had food for any taste.
About the entertaining, it was ok. Some shows were really nice while some other were somewhere below passable. The daily activities were plenty, somewhat focused on luxury activities (like art auctions, jewelry sales, Fabergé egg showcase and sales, liquor tastings, and so one). It perhaps makes sense for the overall target audience, mostly senior guests.
One of the highlights of this cruise was the presentations from the destination experts. The presentations were really interesting and made de experience must more enjoyable and immersive. The presentation themes included wildlife identification and behavior, destination highlights, geographic features, historical events and even a recent rescue mission to Antartica from the Argentinian navy. There was much effort to provide the same presentations in English and Spanish, so most people would benefit and enjoy all given information.
It is also important to note the crew was always friendly and eager to help. Our stateroom attendant and some other personnel we had more contact with during the cruise were very professional and cordial.
After few days on the sea, we reached Ushuaia. We visited Escondido/Fasano lake and the experience was really memorable. Since we did not stop at Puerto Madryn we were able to stay in Ushuaia for a few more hours.
We headed to Antartica, our main and most anticipated destination. The weather was really good during our stay and the visibility was great. We had the luck to get some snow while entering Paradise Bay. It was quite a spectacle. It is really difficult to describe in words the beauty we saw. While it looks a desolated region, it is full of life. We could see whales, penguins, many different types of birds. The icebergs are also a show apart, featuring beautiful shapes, textures, and colors. We also stopped at Elephant Island, the second sightseeing place.
After Elephant Island, when heading back to Falkland Island, a major storm formed in our way and the captain had to deviate our corse, missing Falkland port of call.
His decision was the correct one due to the bad weather, however, no one was able to explain why the next port of call wasn't changed to Puerto Madryn. Apparently, the route would be even safer than going straight to Montevideo and, we had the time since Falkland stop was completely skipped. It was really strange and until now I got no answer from Celebrity guest relations about this.
On the memo we received in our stateroom:
"We would like to inform you that our call to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, has been canceled, due to adverse weather and high winds.
(...) Tomorrow, January 31th, the Celebrity Infinity will be at sea, since weather conditions and distance to alternative ports will not allow us to call an alternative port. In an effort to avoid the rough seas, we are traveling directly to Montevideo through an alternative route, as your safety is our top priority. We will be arriving in Montevideo at 6:00 am on February 3rd"
We understood the situation and weather changes are a risk involved in all Cruises, however, this port miss and strange deviation from Puerto Madryn just stacked up on our frustration pile. We then faced many days at sea, finally arriving at Montevideo. It was a nice stop, however, I (and many other guests I spoke with) would rather stop in other ports then in Montevideo. Montevideo is really close to Buenos Aires and you can easily go by car, bus or even boat in a couple hours. Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island, on another hand, are much harder and expensive to get to.
In the end, the trip left really good memories about Antartica sightseeing experience and a bitter taste for itinerary changes and other smaller annoyances. We felt only half of the trip was actually delivered since we could not stop at Puerto Madryn and Falkland Island. Looking in retrospect, if we could changes things, we would rather flight straight to Ushuaia and book a cruise on a smaller ship just to experience Antartica.
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