Panama Canal Cruise � October 28th 2011 to November 12, 20: Celebrity Infinity Cruise Review by MarinerCruiser

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Panama Canal Cruise � October 28th 2011 to November 12, 20

Sail Date: October 2011
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: San Diego
Pre-Cruise Information
We book this cruise because of the ports that were on this cruise and the number of days in succession at sea. When we book this cruise on April 27, 2011 with a down payment, Acapulco Mexico was a port of call. When we made our final payment on August 12, 2011, Acapulco was still a port of call. My traveling companion and I are scuba divers and since you are not offering scuba diving on this cruise, we were making arrangements in the various ports to go scuba diving including Acapulco. It was not until about 10 days prior to sailing that my wife, when she was pre-booking tours, discovered that we were not going to Acapulco but to Puerto Vallarta instead. I found it necessary to cancel my dive in Acapulco and make arrangements to dive in Puerto Vallarta instead. This change gave us no days between dives instead of two days between dives as we had originally planned. Had my wife not been booking pre-tours we would not have known that we were not going to More Acapulco until we boarded the ship. This would've caused me to lose a deposit for diving in Acapulco as a no-show and more than likely would not have been able to dive in Puerto Vallarta. I did manage to book the dive in Puerto Vallarta before we sailed. I do not know when you changed these ports this cruise but it was certainly more than 10 days before sailing. We should have been informed of this change when it was made!
Because of a delay in embarkation this cruise had to embark all other passengers in a 3 1/2 hour. Instead of instead of a 4 1/2 -â€" 5 hour. Approximately 1600 passengers needed to board during this timeframe causing longer than normal standing lines. There was a delay in are leaving the dock from 4 PM to 6 PM. This delay caused us to make a choice between going to dinner at our 6 PM time or watching us leave San Diego port. We chose to watch the departure rather than going to dinner at 6 PM. After we left the Bay and were in the Pacific Ocean we decided to go to dinner. I called the Celebrity Select Dining to see if we can make a reservation for dinner that night. I was informed that we had chosen the 6 PM dining and that we could not change that reservation. Because of this we had to eat dinner in the Ocean View Cafe.

The overall selection and quality of food was great. The one exception was one sit-down breakfast in The Trellis Restaurant. Scrambled eggs were served cold and runny. After that we ate breakfast and lunch in the Ocean View Cafe. We did return to The Trellis Restaurant for the brunch, which was excellent. The dinner menus In the Trellis Restaurant had a great and varied appetizers, soups and salads, entrée and dessert selection. We enjoyed your wine selection and purchased a bottle wine every night for dinner. One of the members of our party was a vegetarian with some very strict diet needs. Your matre d' and executive chef were able to meet and prepare her dietary needs. The Ocean View Cafe food selection and preparation was excellent. We also enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs from Breeze Pool Grill.

Condition of The Ship
The overall condition of the ship appeared to be clean. But it was very evident that there were many things on the ship that needed to be repaired. In the men's toilet on the fourth deck just outside of the Celebrity Theatre, I found the seat on the toilet broken and unusable. It fell off the toilet. In our state room the carpet was extremely worn and had holes in it. The shower curtain in our bathroom had mold on the bottom of the curtain and appeared it had not been washed in some time. During the Panama Canal transit, we had a table that was on the back veranda on deck 10 on the starboard side. We were unable to listen to Martin Harrington's narration because of broken speakers in this area. I understand that after this cruise that this ship was going to spend three weeks getting refurbished. It sorely needs it. Certain sections of the ship were also closed because they started the refurbishing during this cruise.

Beyond the Podium Series
The Beyond the Podium Series on the Panama Canal with Martin Harrington was very informative. Marty's presentations broken up into one hour presentations was the right amount of time to hold your attention on a given subject. By breaking his presentation into several presentations the information he presented on the Panama Canal was more informative and I retained a lot of the information he gave us. I like this series so much that I had asked Marty to forward me his PowerPoint presentations. It would have been really nice to hear Marty's comments during the transit of the Panama Canal.

Cabo Guided Walking Tour-CS 62
My wife took this tour with one of our traveling companions, Linda Sanders, and they were highly disappointed in this tour. This tour appear to be a history tour with some shopping. They said that it was a shopping, restaurant tour with a little history. They left the tour about two thirds away through the tour and returned to the ship.

Guatemalan Estate and Gardens Tour-GQ 15
This tour was taken by my wife, Sandy, our traveling companions, and myself. The visit to the Casona Don Pancho estate was very interesting and the narrative tour of the estate was very informative. After their narrative tour we sat down at the tables in the garden area and were served a snack. We were left in this area for about an hour and a half. Our tour guide gave us no further information as to how much longer we were going to be at the estate, whether we could go back and revisit other areas of the estate and he disappeared. We finally decided to re-explore the estate on our own. When it was time to return to the ship our tour guide reappeared and told us to get back in the buses.

Panama City Experience-CO 55
This tour was taken by my wife, our traveling companions, Tim and Linda Sanders, and myself. We were the third bus on this tour and our tour guide decided to reverse the tour. Instead of going to Miraflora Locks first as described in your tour information, he decided to go to Panama City first. In Panama City, we stopped for a restroom break. After the restroom break, I thought we would get back on the bus continue our tour of Panama City. Instead we took about a 45 min. tour through a museum that was not listed as part of the tour information. Our next stop was at the old cathedral, again not listed on your tour. Here we were rushed through the grounds in about 15 to 20 min. Our next stop was Miraflora Locks. We arrived in the late morning /early afternoon just in time to see the last eastbound morning ships via the webcam in the motion picture theater. During our time at this Lock only a small vessel transited the locks and we were able to see this because our tour guide allowed us 'a few extra minutes to see this'. This entire tour felt like a rush rush at the Cathedral stop and Miraflora Lock stop. I understand that there is a disclaimer that you cannot guarantee to see a large ship transit the transit. Because our tour guide chose to reverse the tour in order to save time and arriving at the Miraflora Locks last (arriving late morning/early afternoon) insured that we would not see a large vessel transiting these locks due to traffic restrictions. The first two buses went to Miraflora Locks first and were able to see ships transiting the locks. Again I felt like we were being rushed from one place to another without sufficient time to see the areas that we were visiting.


Shortly after boarding the ship we purchase transportation transfers from the cruise dock to the Fort Lauderdale airport. A couple of days prior to disembarkation we found out that you had a Personal Valet Service in which we could put our luggage out the night before disembarkation and our luggage would be checked through to our final destination without us handling it again. This was a great service and we would use it again. We were told to the Celebrity Theatre before 8:50 AM for our disembarkation. We started the disembarkation process at about 9:10 a.m. and got through Customs in about 20 min. However, when we got outside the terminal to board a bus for the ride to Fort Lauderdale's airport there was no transportation available. There was not enough transportation available to take all of your passengers to the Fort Lauderdale airport. We had to wait standing at the curb for approximately one hour and 30 min. for a bus to arrive to take us to the airport. This bus was the last bus to leave the terminal. While we were standing at the curb waiting for a bus, one of the dock curbside personnel kept asking us to move. There was no place for us to go except to wait where we were at because other buses to other destinations were loading their passengers. Had we known that you would be unable to provide us with transportation to the airport in a reasonable amount of time, we would not have elected to take your transfer transportation but would've taken a cab. Celebrity Cruises knew exactly how many people had purchased transportation to the Fort Lauderdale airport and didn't provide transportation in a reasonable time. We would have been better off staying in the Celebrity Theatre until you had enough transportation to get us to the airport, instead of standing for an hour and a half. But no, your primary purpose was to get us off the ship and be done with this. We have cruised with other cruise lines and have never experience this kind of delay in getting to the airport!

Final impressions
Our primary objective, to transit the Panama Canal was met. Doing scuba diving objective was also met. We were able to dive in three ports.
The food, selection and preparation in Breeze Pool Grill, Ocean View Cafe and for dinner in the Trellis restaurant was excellent. The entertainment we saw in the Celebrity Theatre was good. Our cabin attendant, bar service attendance, waiter, assistant waiter, matre d', wine steward and chefs did an excellent job. These you would expect to find on any cruise ship.
However, Pre-cruise information, embarkation, condition of the ship, tours, disembarkation leave a great deal to be desired. This we have not found on other cruise lines with the exception of Norwegian Cruise Line, which we no longer use. I would not put you in the same class as Norwegian Cruise line but you came pretty close. Your food and service keeps you a step above them. In selecting future cruises, Celebrity Cruises will not be my cruise line of choice as there are several other cruise lines that we have been on that do a far superior job of providing a great, pleasant and entertaining experience Less

Published 12/01/11

Cabin review: 2B Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2B

Our cabin and our traveling companions cabin was about midship on the starboard side. This was an excellent location for us as we were very close to the midship elevators. When you got off of these elevators at any level you were close to about 80% of where you wanted to go. For us, the balcony was a great place to watch the ship come into port. It was also a great place to just set outside and relax. The table was a little small as we could not get to breakfast dishes on the table. And it was a great place to let my scuba gear drive. Because this was a 15 day cruise we were a little tight on storage space for our clothing, my scuba gear, and luggage.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico -â€" This was the only port that we had the tender. Celebrity used a private tender service from Cabo San Lucas instead of their own tenders. It took some time to get everybody off the ship and in the port. Had to use their own tenders which had a greater capacity than the private tenders I feel that we could've gotten off the ship quicker. As we had a scuba diving trip scheduled for 1 PM, that I booked with Manta SCUBA Diving through the Internet as Celebrity did not offer any SCUBA diving on this trip, it was imperative that we get off the ship early. They used a numbering system that had we stayed with the numbers that they gave us we would not have been able to make the dive schedule. When we realize that we were not going to make it by waiting for them to call our number we just went down to the tender station and boarded the tender. This scuba dive trip was one of the more memorable ones as in addition to seeing the various types of fishes we were also able to see lots of sea lions. The ladies took the Cabo Guided Walking Tour. This tour was supposed to be about the history of Cabo San Lucas with some shopping and restaurant stops. The tour turned out to be lots of shopping and restaurants stops and a little history of Cabo San Lucas. About two thirds away through the tour they abandoned the tour and went back to the ship.

Cartagena, Colombia -– This cruise dock was located in the middle of their commercial docks. It was about 20 or 30 min. from Cartagena. When we arrived and through the early morning hours we had off and on rain. We had booked our fourth scuba dive with Buzoz de Baru. Because of the inclement weather they were not able to pick us up at the cruise ship dock as we had planned and wanted us to take a taxi to their shop. Because of time constraints we could not do this dive and had to cancel it. As it was too late to try to take a cruise ship tour we went to the taxi stand at the end of the cruise dock and was able to book a tour of Cartagena for the two of us for $60. This was like a private tour for two and our driver was very informative even though his English was not that good we were able to understand him most of the time. Our first stop was at Fort de San Felipe. This was one of the forts that was built at the entrance to the old city. We spent about 45 min. during this Fort. The original city was protected by a 15 foot high wall that surrounded the entire city in which this Fort was the cornerstone. We next went to Las Bovedas area. The lower level of one of these buildings which used to house soldiers had been converted into a shopping mall. Our guide then parked just outside an area in the old city where no cars were allowed and took us on a walking tour. We spent about an hour and a half in this area looking at the various architectures, buildings and shops. There were walking street vendors everywhere trying to sell you something including a 'Rolex' watch for $20. The ladies took the City Drive, Shopping and La Popa Monastery tour. Their tour was pretty much the same as the one that we took except they made a stop at La Popa Monastery And Convent.

Colon, Panama -– After transiting through The Panama Canal we docked at Colon, Panama. In transiting the Panama canal we entered the canal just outside of Panama City and made our way through the entrance canal under the Bridge of the America to our first set locks, Miraflores Locks. Here we entered the first of two chambers to raise our ship up 27 feet in each chamber. Our ship had only 24 inches clearance on either side of the chamber. We were hooked up to four 'mules 'on either side of the ship that kept us in the center of the chambers. We had taken a corner table on the back veranda on deck 10 which gave us an excellent view of what was going on around us and below us. We then went through a small lake for about a mile to our second locks, Miguel Locks. This lock was a single chamber and raise our ship an additional 31 feet, bringing us 85 feet above sea level so that we could transit to the rest of the canal which was 85 feet above sea level. The ship then wound its way for nine miles through the Culebra Cut to Gatún Lake. While in the Culebra Cut, we passed under the Centennial Bridge which connects the Americans. We continued to wind our way through Gatún Lake for about 26 miles and tell we reached the Gatún Locks. Here we went through a three chamber lock to lower our ship 85 feet back to sea level. From here we went through the exit canal To the Caribbean Sea. Although the distance from the Pacific Ocean To the Caribbean Sea is only 50 miles it took us about seven hours to make this transit Through the Panama Canal. In arriving at Colon, our ship had to back in for about 3 miles to get to the cruise ship port which was surrounded by their commercial docks. We took The Panama City Experience Tour. One of the reasons we took this tour was that it was going to stop at Miraflores Locks and then a tour of the new and old Panama City. What we wanted to see at ground level where ships going through this lock. We boarded the third of three buses. When the tour got underway, our tour guide announced that we were going to go to reverse the tour by going to Panama City first and then to the Miraflores Locks second. In doing this we got to Miraflores Locks in the late morning or early afternoon. During our Panama City tour we made two stops that were not listed in the tour information. One stop was at a Museum that we spent approximately 45 min. in and the second stop was at an old Cathedral ruins that we spent 15 -– 20 min. that. When we arrived at Miraflores Locks the last eastbound ships had gone through these locks. On this tour we felt that we were being rushed in and out of the old Cathedral and Miraflores Locks. Needless to say we were very disappointed that we did not get to see any ships transit this lock. Especially after we found out that the first two buses did get to see ships transit this lock.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -– At this port we booked a another scuba dive with Twin Dolphins Dive Center through the Internet as Celebrity did not offer scuba diving in this port. The owner, Giovanni Macedo had been diving for almost as long as I have -– 50 years plus. In his shop he had some of the early diving regulators that brought back memories of years past. We were the only two divers on this trip. It was like we had our own private dive tour with the dive master and the boat captain. The visibility on this dive was not as good as it was in the Cabo San Lucas and the water was colder than I expected. There was not much Marine life and colorful coral to see. The ladies took the Puerto Vallarta Walking Tour. They said it was a so-so tour.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica -– We booked our third scuba dive with Turismo Curu. This was going to be our most challenging trip in terms of transportation. Turismo Curu was going to pick us up at the beach in their boat next to the cruise dock with our equipment, take us back across the bay to their dive shop in Paquera, do to dives, take us to the ferry port in Paquera for the ferry ride back to Puntarenas and then a ride from this ferry port to the cruise ship dock. Luis, the owner of Turismo Curu the arrangements in everything went off as planned. The dive shop was located on a wooded beach that had monkeys in the tree and small tame deer on the dive shop grounds. The diving areas that we went to wear uninhabited and pristine. We got to see a lot of interesting Marine life which included a couple of white tip sharks. The ladies took the Pacific Train Boat and Bus Adventure Tour. They said that this was a much better tour then the three previous ones that they had taken as they were able to see a lot of wildlife and colorful flowers and vegetation.

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