Oct 10 2010 - First on Celebrity - Panama Canal: Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by kahtrav

Celebrity Infinity 4
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Oct 10 2010 - First on Celebrity - Panama Canal

Sail Date: October 2010
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We had not cruised with Celebrity before and a couple of things I really liked were the two speakers/lectures. We're not so much into the trivia games, etc. and enjoyed having other options (Cathy Ace was really fun to listen to). We also liked the lack of ongoing announcements. My husband enjoyed having good cycling classes and with so many sea days, that worked well for him - I got to enjoy breakfast in bed, which was my idea of fun (we spent 5 1/2 weeks cycling Ireland this summer, so I figured I deserved being pampered a bit). We used the paper room service menus since we needed fruit, not just juice - the interactive menu was pretty simple. Grapefruit came as requested every day. I also got bananas as requested, but then I noticed that bananas were not available on the ship after just a few days - even though we were in the part of the world that grows them.

We enjoyed the buffet for breakfast and lunch and mid-afternoon snack - especially the carving station and the More pasta bar - generally the food was good on the ship - not spectacular, but generally good and cooked as requested. Since my husband has to be on a low carb diet, he's always hoping for a few more sugar free items. There was always one no added sugar item, but it generally included white flour dough, so really not low carb at all - he'd get several and eat the filling. He'd have two meat courses, but rarely could eat the other items (lots of potatoes,rice and carrots). Our waiter, Jorge, was great - he explained that he needed to bring the plates as presented from the kitchen, but would then piecemeal a plate as needed.

One thing we really had an issue with was coffee - first, we've been used to free cappuccino with breakfast and dinner on other cruise lines - only to have an unexpected $9.00 charge when they brought it at our first dinner and requested our card. The coffee in the buffet was actually pretty good, but except in the morning it was almost impossible to find HOT coffee. We really enjoy a cup of coffee and a little snack in the afternoon, but it got old having to search all the coffee stations to find one that might be hot enough to drink.

Of course, we all went on the cruise for the Canal. We've been through other large canal locks, but the history of Panama is compelling - I'm passing on my "Path Between the Seas" to a couple from church who are going next spring. The video of the canal was quite good - the lecture was a bit repetitive - should have been offered at a different time. I enjoyed being out on the bow, but was a bit disappointed to find out later that the speakers really were not in all areas of the ship, so we missed some of the narrative. Since we'd done some prior research, I don't think we missed too much.

We snorkeled near the ship at Huatulco (not an option on port reviews) - not great - really enjoyed the sail into the bay. We did a bit of shopping for the grandkids in the little market in town.

The ports were all good. We mostly did our own thing rather than tours - it fits our independent travel style. I was again, as on other ships, very disappointed with the shore information we were give by the ship. I know there's a focus on shopping at "approved" stores and shore excursions, but there were a number of people who enjoy exploring on their own. I actually think that more independent travelers are finding that cruises can be a viable travel option, without giving up their independent explorations - we've even taken our folding bikes. What information we were given (by the "port and shopping" guide) was generally inaccurate, with no decent maps - even when told where to go get maps, no such place existed. I would much more enjoy cruising if we got good information from the ship on the history, points of interest (not just shops) and maps so we can enjoy the ports on our own.

Overall we enjoyed our first Celebrity cruise. I don't think we were "wowed" by Celebrity, but it was certainly on par with the better cruises we've been on. There were some aspects we definitely enjoyed - the lecture speakers, the entertainment shows were excellent - the best we've seen on a ship (we also really enjoyed the "OnTap" acapella group, the limited smoking (we soon learned to avoid the port side of the ship and the Constellation room,was always smoky, so we never were able to enjoy the view from there. I thought the ship was in pretty good shape considering some of the reviews I'd read. We were in an oceanview cabin in the center on deck 2 - loved having the window. On several nights, however, we had very loud music from downstairs - generally early evening, which was ok, but one night it was at 2:00 in the morning. That morning our room steward asked how I'd slept and I mentioned the noise from what I assumed was crew quarters - we only heard it in the early evenings after that.

We headed straight home from Long Beach (after a 1 hour delayed flight) - worked well, using Super Shuttle, though I won't pre-pay a tip again - he didn't do anything with the bags - just opened the back door - minor annoyance, but not related to the cruise.

We'll probably cruise with Celebrity in the future - maybe Australia - we'll be out and about again. Less

Published 10/31/10
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: 072110 Ocean View 7

Being low and in the center was helpful when we were in rough water. The large, round window was nice. Noise from the crew quarters was a little irritating, but nothing I chose to complain about. These cabins are a little smaller than on some other ships, but adequate. A bit larger couch would be nice (single bed pullout). This cabin would be way too small for 3 adults.

Read All Ocean View 7 (07) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

In Acapulco we wanted to just wander around the old plaza and town. We are used to walking and felt comfortable in the workaday old town - we met a few others here and there. The taxi drivers and walking "helpers" were pretty relentless and directed us the wrong way - everyone wanted us to go the market. We were told there were "bandito" down the street we were headed, until I said, no mercado - just iglesia, then we were sent down that very same street. After visiting the cathedral and small old plaza, we walked a short way over a hill to the cliff diving location. We were way too early, but able to walk down to the base - saw some of the divers working out and playing a pick-up soccer game. We walked up along the cliff and back to the ship. Definitely more our type of travel. We later did go to the market (with help whether we wanted it or not)and bought a nice Mexican men's tailored dress shirt.

Read 204 Acapulco Reviews

I had read beforehand about the water taxis in Cabo, so was prepared to bargain for a certain price - worked ok. I wasn't comfortable paying for roundtrip in advance and they seemed fine with that - our boat took us out by the rocks, allowed us a quick extra stop at lover's beach, and took us to his recommended snorkeling area - quite nice. He came back right when we'd requested. We had lots of people wanting to help us in and out of the boats, for a tip, which we were prepared for and happy to do, but there were a lot more helping hands than we needed, all with a hand out. Overall, we really enjoyed our stop in Cabo (our only repeat port).

We enjoyed Cartagena - the gold museum was quite interesting (and air conditioned) and exploring the old city was nice - some beautiful, flowered, balconies. We'd been warned that it would be very hot and humid, so went on shore early, dressed for the weather, stayed in the shade on the narrow streets and were fine. We have been to many old cities in Europe and it was nice to see another old Colonial city - our first in South America.

We did wish we had gone to see the stingrays in Grand Cayman (always a next time :)) - the recommended snorkeling beach (Cemetery Beach) was easy to reach by minibus, but surf was too rough (and the water cloudy )that day - didn't see much (finally had a good snorkeling day at Cabo :)). Quite easy to catch a regular bus back to town. We're not shoppers, but we wandered around, enjoying a bit of air conditioning in the jewelry shops.

We did an excursion with "OkeyDokey Tours" in Costa Rica. We had a really good day, but 2 groups who had made reservations didn't show up. I think Charlie (the owner) was frustrated and rightfully so - but then he turned us over to a likable, but not very well informed young man from Nicaragua, who didn't really have the information for a good tour. We saw everything we were supposed to and had a great hike in the rain forest with the guide from Villa Lapas, but not as much detail about Costa Rica as we would have liked. It was still a good day, just not quite what we'd hoped for. This was the only tour we opted for - otherwise we walked or took taxis or buses (water taxi at Cabo).

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