35 San Diego First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Embarkation went really smooth once we got to the ship after fog delays in flying into San Diego. We boarded the ship at apx 12:15 and were told our rooms would be ready at 1:00pm so we took this time to purchase our first drink from the ... Read More
Embarkation went really smooth once we got to the ship after fog delays in flying into San Diego. We boarded the ship at apx 12:15 and were told our rooms would be ready at 1:00pm so we took this time to purchase our first drink from the bar and Coke cards for those that wanted them and then headed to our first meal on Lido Deck. We found the layout to be quite confusing with all the stations and people coming from all directions. We looked forward to the Oriental station as it was our favorite on out last cruise and were not disappointed on this cruise either. The Deli station always seemed to be a hit as well as the Grill. The other stations always seemed to serve the same thing so that was new as in the past there seemed to be more variety. Found a very limited supply of fresh pineapple but when we found it it was delicious. Rooms were ready at 1:00 just as we were told so we dropped off our carry on items and began exploring the ship. Found the layout of this ship to be great, I never got lost and my husband thought that was something as it was the first time. The decor of the ship is bizarre to say the least, very explicit so if traveling with children you might find yourself explaining things to them quite often. Ship seemed a little worn and dated. Balcony was small but served its purpose to sit out and enjoy the ocean breeze, wish there would have been more sun as I think I would have used it more. Food - Overall I found it to be more that satisfactory and a good variety of choices. We chose to eat in the main dining room for breakfast most mornings and found the service and food to be good. We ate most of our lunches in port but grabbed food also on Lido Deck...first cruise I never went to the grill for a hamburger or hotdog so can't comment on how good they were. We ate one lunch in the main dining room and it was wonderful had fish and chips and shared BBQ ribs which were fabulous throughout the cruise. For dinner we at early seating with Donald as our Waiter and we couldn't have asked for a better waiter he was wonderful and we looked forward to spending a couple of hours with him each evening. We celebrated his birthday as well as 4 others in our group on this cruise. The maitre de was so much fun we ran into her quite often during the cruise and she was pleasant with lots of fun stories to tell. She mentioned that this was the first cruise with the menu we had and asked for suggestions and our group said that they felt it gave a great selection, my suggestion was that I wanted souffle and had waited all cruise and on our last night we were served souffle not sure if it was scheduled that way or if she had it added either way I enjoyed. Steak House - What a beautiful atmosphere and the staff was great until time to get our check and we had to wait quite a long time. The selection was wonderful, they cooked to perfection the way each of the 12 in our party ordered their steak. The porterhouse seemed to be the favorite selection. I had a New York Strip and shared with some of the guys as it was too much for me. I found the flavor of the steak to be wonderful but it seemed to lack some seasoning that I am used to. The fillet also was said to lack real flavor. Only one person felt that it was not worth the $30 pp. We would go to their steak house again on a future cruise which is something we could not say on previous cruises and the use of their steakhouses. Entertainment - They need to really step it up in this area we all felt and so did the majority of those we talked to. We all felt that for a Carnival Cruise encouraging families to travel together they only seemed to offer adult comedy, four shows daily and 1 or 2 PG rated shows which I felt took it too far. In the production shows the girls are dressed scampi in thongs, see through coats etc. I am not a prude but I do appreciate great entertainment and a variety and this ship did not offer it. The final Legend Show was the best however it was also made crude by the staff with their production numbers. I think they need to realize that families do travel and we don't need to be shown crude entertainment. Late night comedy for those that want is great and I have enjoyed several shows but taking adult comedy from comedy to just crude is not entertainment to me and I heard this comment throughout the cruise as people said they walked out. So Carnival step it up in your production and variety to offer your guests as your game shows were on the adult side as well. The other entertainment offered just wasn't that great. I like to sit and listen to music while out by the pool and that was virtually non existent. I felt the best music was played in the Casino and I heard others say the same and then others that said they wished he would shut up so too each our own. I just felt if they had him somewhere else on the ship people could have danced to his country music. The guy in the atrium area was awful. The person in charge of Karaoke was horrible no personality at all. Stu and Pip were horrible and not very people friendly, they acted tired and like we were just in their way. On other cruises the cruise directors encouraged participation and these two I think hoped no one would participate. Casino and Bingo - The Blackjack tournament is getting to be a joke lots of participants yet the cruise line and casino keep the cash and give out a measly $500 to the winner. Don't know how the Texas Hold-em Tournament was in payout but it was fun to watch. Bingo was a complete joke they give out one 3 game strip for $20 and usually only played one game and the prize money was so skimpy. I played the one day when you played 7 games for $20 but again you only got one strip of 3 games and played all 7 games on the same strip and pay outs were horrible. When someone won they never yelled Bingo or got excited in any way...come on you did win something get a little excited. Also they had a drawing for a free cruise...this used to be a Bingo game....you bought 10 tickets for $20 and then they drew out a number and you had to be present to win. The first number the person wasn't there and then the person that won just waved their hand never got excited like they win a cruise everyday!! Come on people if you are going to play a game play with enthusiasm and have some fun the cruise directors were dull enough we didn't need to buy into their dull drum. Other than that the casino paid our group as a whole pretty good, coming home with money is always a plus. Overall rating is a 3* for the cruise. Room steward wasn't the greatest and the entertainment was horrible. Disembarkation was a joke they acted like it was the first ship they had ever disembarked. For those international people that seem to hold up the process on every cruise either stop cruising or pay attention and follow directions. For the staff disembarking we are tired of hearing it is not your fault you are in control take control. Biggest complaint by many was no place to gather and play board games with family as the only table large enough were in the dining room and it became frustrating when people wanted to eat and couldn't find a table for all the groups playing games....I admit we were one of them but our family and friends love to play games and there was no other place on the ship to do so. We planned our next cruise while on board and will be switching cruise lines for that one but we will give Carnival another try if the price is right and the time and itinerary are what we are looking for. We met some of the greatest people on this cruise and hope to cruise with them again. That is one of the reasons we like to cruise as we meet some of the most wonderful people that we probably would have never been given the opportunity to meet otherwise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The cruise itself was great. The food, hospitality, and the state rooms were great along with the events. Overall...if we did not have any incidents...this was a great cruise... However, this was not the case. In the few occaisions ... Read More
The cruise itself was great. The food, hospitality, and the state rooms were great along with the events. Overall...if we did not have any incidents...this was a great cruise... However, this was not the case. In the few occaisions that we needed to discuss an issue with the Oosterdam front-desk agents or customer service we were severely disappointed. Three instances showed this to us: 1) We complained that an even that we had paid for did not meet our expectations. The front-desk agent took our notes and then called the manager for us. We were told that the the manager (seemingly hiding behind the front-desk clerk) did not agree with our complaints but was too busy to meet with us that day. We came back the next morning for our booked appointment to find out that the manager was too busy with another appointment. Only after complaining did he finally leave his work and meet with us. 2) We received an incorrect medical bill. The front-desk manager refused to do anything about it but tell us to talk to the infirmirary. We talked to the infirmirary who resolved this issue but we were incensed that the bill only arrived on our final day and was not discussed with us when it was incurred. Also, that the front-desk managers were not willing to discuss this with us. 3) We lost our car/apartment keys on the boat. After leaving, we found that we could not talk to anyone from HAL on a Sunday who could help us since their offices were only open from M-F. Also, the HAL office did not have a contact for the Oosterdam. I could not believe that this! In most of the cases, I would not fault the individuals who seemed to want to help us. It seemed that the they were not empowered to help us or to look into our issues. In most cases, if the front desk agents were allowed to make decisions or judgment calls on their own then we believe that the management making decisions would not need to hide behind them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an ... Read More
This was our introduction to cruising, and we booked through a local Pacific NW travel agency. The deal seemed pretty good: about $1000 for two of us, including airfare from Seattle to San Diego, transfers from the airport to the pier, an upgraded stateroom with a veranda, and a chartered bus back from Vancouver to Seattle at the end of the trip. Check-in at the pier was completely painless. We arrived at the airport at about 2:30 and were onboard the Oosterdam by 3:30. Most of that time was waiting for our luggage at baggage claim at the airport. Our cabin was much more spacious than we had expected. It was immaculate (thanks, Sam and Jadi!), and very quiet. We never heard noises from the adjoining cabins. The good: the Oosterdam itself. It shows some wear in places (carpets a bit worn, some scuff marks from suitcases), but everything was very clean. The good: The mostly Indonesian crew were uniformly friendly, courteous, and very helpful. They seemed genuinely interested in helping. There's a cover over part of the aft pool deck, and twice I saw crew members up there cleaning it. The good: the food. Buffets can be hit-or-miss, but the Lido restaurant was uniformly top notch. The salad items were fresh, the entrees were tasty, and I'm STILL wondering how they can do scrambled eggs for 1,900 guests with such uniform high quality. We ate in the main dining room twice and were impressed both times. And we ate once in the Pinnacle Grill, and were REALLY impressed with the quality of the food and the service. The not-so-good: the weather sucked for a day and a half: force nine winds and 15-18 foot swells. I know the stabilizers were working overtime, but walking about was an adventure at times. The not-so-good: the bar prices. Drink prices were more expensive than in almost any cocktail lounge I've ever been in. Soft drinks were $2.00 each. The not-so-good: lines. There were lines for almost everything. Especially in the Lido restaurant at lunch. We struggled to find a table a couple of times. The ugly: our arrival in Vancouver. This was NOT Holland-America's fault. The Oosterdam arrived on a Saturday morning, shortly after the Zuiderdam, and just before a ship from NCL. So there were about 6,000 people trying to disembark all at about the same time. And there were ANOTHER 6,000 people simultaneously trying to get onboard. Combine that with the fact that this was the first cruise weekend in Vancouver, and the result was, to put it mildly, chaotic. We were 90 minutes late disembarking, it took 20-30 minutes to clear customs, and it took more than an hour for our chartered buses to arrive and pick us up. When our bus finally cleared the loading area, we could see that the line to get to embarkation went through the building, across the loading zone, up the sidewalk, and around the block. I didn't envy them, but at least it was sunny and warm. Because we were so late in getting on our bus, and because a few of the other passengers had flights to catch in Seattle, we drove straight through. So our last breakfast onboard had to last until dinner. The wife and I stopped at a Burger King not long after getting back in our car - quite a change from the luxury we'd grown accustomed to onboard. Will we cruise again? Definitely. But we'll think twice about disembarking in Vanouver on the first weekend of cruising season. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few ... Read More
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few problems. the Club Hal for kids was great to have, but the evening programs for the kids age 3-7 started much too late (7 pm or 8 pm and lasted til 10 pm). The kids were exhausted! The spa and gym were fabulous, and the "Thermal Suite" pass is the way to go -$150 to use the private hydrapool, aromatherapy showers, and the heated tile lounge chairs in the serentiy suite all week. Well worth the price. Food was outstanding and abundant. Kids loved the almost all-day ice cream bar. Easy to eat healthy and nutritiously with all the fresh fruit, grilled fish, salad bar, vegetarian choices, etc. GREAT that no sodas were included, but it would have been nice if there was latte & cappucino from the coffee machine and not just plain coffee. Shows were fun & not too long. Activities like Name that Tune and Trivia Night in the Queens Lounge were really fun. The Piano Bar was dynamite and never crowded. Drinks were really reasonably priced in the bars/lounges. The movie theater was stunning, but with only 27 seats, you had to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime to get a seat. The in-room DVD delivery service was great - 1000 titles, free! Kids loved shuffleboard, ping pong, and the basketball court up on the 10th deck. "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk on the last day for Breast Cancer was a nice activity, too. More babysitters needed - there seemed to be only one or two available during the whole cruise, but the one we had was very very nice and always on-time. Embarkation was long and tedious - over one hour! Disembarkation was a total breeze and couldn't have been easier. My only complaint was that there were too many people scheduled each 15 minutes - there should have been wider time-bands so things didn't get congested.... The best part about cruising is that you have absolutely NO WORK to do - all your activities, all your meals, your "home" are all taken care of for you with the utmost of care and service. Just fabulous for a busy mom! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our first time cruising and we're glad we did it with RCI. We had a fantastic time, met a lot of wonderful people on the ship and off and are looking forward to going on a cruise again some day. This is a great cruise ... Read More
This was our first time cruising and we're glad we did it with RCI. We had a fantastic time, met a lot of wonderful people on the ship and off and are looking forward to going on a cruise again some day. This is a great cruise because it stops in six ports. My very own six pack. Each port was a joy to visit (except for one) and have the pictures to prove it. :) Emarkation and deemarkation was smooth, quick and efficient . They had a Karaoke Superstar Contest while we were on the ship, so I tried out for it. It was unreal because I had never Karaoked before in my life. My husband told me to try it because we weren't going to see any of these people ever again. I made it to the 8 finalists, having a blast the entire time. The man that actually won the Karaoke Contest was so good, he should be a professional. Our stateroom was most excellent. Clean and roomier than we had expected it to be. Our stateroom attendant was always around to help us with anything we wished. She was always in a good mood and wearing a smile. The main dining room had terrific choices for dinner. WE never ate anywhere for dinner other than the MDR. Our waiter and assistant were great too. She was most attentive, giving us all the things we needed in the evening. I tried something new and exciting every single night. It was fun. Our table mates were great and I hope we see them again some day on another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My friend and I left on April 19th for a 4 day cruise To Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. We really didn't know what to expect, other than I had been on CC forum and had talked/ask questions of these two ports, which neither of ... Read More
My friend and I left on April 19th for a 4 day cruise To Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. We really didn't know what to expect, other than I had been on CC forum and had talked/ask questions of these two ports, which neither of us had visited before. When we arrive (we flew in directly from Kansas City, Missouri), we found our transportation, and they took us to the cruise ship, which is probably within 10 - 15 minutes of the ship. In San Diego it was 75 degrees, but from then on the weather changed to rain/wind/COLD. (Please see Ensenada, Mexico for when we went back to San Diego before we went home.) I had already filled out our Fun Pass, so that helped us get through everything much smoother, and able to get to our rooms. We thought we might have to go to the Lido deck, but by 1:30 (I believe it was) our room was ready. We had a window and the room seemed spacious enough for what we had. I will say since the Elation is an older ship, and maybe because we were only doing 4 nights, it seemed like the room was missing a few things that I was used to having on the longer trips, but that was OK. We had a vault, which I definitely wanted, as well as the TV, but we didn't have a small refrigerator, which I think some of the other ships I have been on may have had. The bathroom was a nice size with the amenities that come, but there was not a hair blower, but that was OK, as my friend brought that, and I brought the curling iron. I really love our beds/bedding as I feel like a baby when I put the comforter on me. Really warm and light. Before I forget, do no bring an iron with you if you need to press your clothes. There is a laundry room where you can was/dry your clothes for a certain price or coins. The iron is free as far as I know, or it was when I used it a year or two ago. The ship (I like more vibrant colors) was in browns/coppers, and it was kept real clean for an older ship. Our table (seating of 10) had Vince and his helper attending to us in the dining room. They always kept me in HOT tea, which I had requested, and NO ice in my water. We had the 8:15 seating as that didn't rush us to have to be at dinner so early, or leaving a port that we were vising to get to dinner in time. We were pleased with the food, and if there was something that we didn't like or want, we could ask, and they would try to get us something else on the menu for that night. Flying in to San Diego, we met a lot of people from California, where they didn't have to pay to fly in like us. If you like to save money, they still have the $10 store, mainly for ladies, but they have some good buys that I have been pleased with down through the years. Since the weather was so windy/cold we played miniature golf, but there were few at the pools. We did go to the theatre and seen the Newlywed Game, which was very good. There was always something to see/do if you wanted to on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We live in San Diego so getting to the parking garage and shuttle to the cruise terminal was quick and painless. We got there about 12:30. Since we are first time cruisers it would have been more helpful to have more signage telling ... Read More
We live in San Diego so getting to the parking garage and shuttle to the cruise terminal was quick and painless. We got there about 12:30. Since we are first time cruisers it would have been more helpful to have more signage telling people where to go first. We stayed in line to find out we did not need to stand in line to just drop off our luggage because we already had luggage tags on. Just needed to load them onto the large luggage carts and go through security. Security was very quick and then a short line to check in and get our ship/room/charge key cards. I think all in all we spent less than an 30 minutes from the luggage line to getting to our room which was already ready. We were in a quad as we had our 2 boys (ages 8 & 11) with us. We dropped our carry on items headed up to the Lido deck for lunch which my boys fell in love with right away - Pizza and ice cream all day every day! The food was always fresh, hot and easy to attain. The first 48 hours the staff serve you to cut down on illnesses - nice! Previous reviews complained about the food - but we were quite happy with all our choices. By the time we looked around and went back to our room our luggage was already there. We unpacked a little and then participated in the emergency drill. We set sail a little after 5:00. We had a balcony with the concrete or they say steel covering (all of 4th or 4000 cabins) as opposed to floors above us with clear or plexiglass coverings. Our Verandah was a little longer out but later in the cruise we picked up things spilled or dropped from floors above us. Next time I would move up a floor or two. We were also above the Vista Lounge where the shows were so in the evening you could hear the sounds from the shows as we were in the front of the ship. It never really bothered me that much. My kids and I fall asleep to the TV and I always take Tylenol PM whenever and wherever I travel so sleeping was not a problem. Vista Dining was also excellent - service and choices of food were fabulous each night. We chose open dining and never had a problem with getting a seat. Be sure to make a reservation on formal night and the last night in the dining room as it is a great show!! We spent one evening - no kids - at the Pinnacle Grill which is worth the extra $20 each. Caneletto was OK - appetizers and desserts were great - entree's were so-so. My kids are not used to sitters or afterschool programs - stay at home daddy - so they weren't really excited about Club HAL - but liked it enough to go at least once a day. Ports of call were nice - Puerto Vallarta 2 days and Cabo San Lucas one day. We did Las Caletas shore excursion through Vallarta Adventures and Cabo Dolphin Encounter through Cabo Adventures. Both were fabulous memorable experiences. Next time I would book on my own online as it would be a slight savings. We felt safe in both ports. Our second day in Puerto Vallarta we went shopping in town on a quick cab ride - only $1.50 each on anapproved taxi service right outside the ship. Always bargin with vendors you can get them down to reasonable prices. Wished we had another day in Cabo to enjoy the beach it looked nice. Biggest complaint would be the street vendors in each port - people calling out to you all the time. 'Hey Lady - you want to look around?" If you just keep walking and ignore people they go on to the next person. Every port took american dollars - just be sure to bring lots of 5's, 10's and 1's. Merchants don't like to break $20's and will try to bargain with you for the whole $20.The ship ride out of San Diego and back into San Diego were the rockiest. Not enough to make me or the kids ill, but I did hear about others and it did make things rocky when walking or a bit queasy. Spent one hour in the casino and won $20 on slots, and attended the magician show. He was funny and good! On our last night my husband and I found the guitarist in the Crow's Nest and wished we had found him earlier. He was great. Randall in the Piano Bar was funny and had great Name that Tune Games. Towel Folding demonstration was fun and great to learn how they make all those towel animals you get in your room. I loved, loved, loved the guest chef and demonstrations by Chef Kelly English - who's restaurant was featured on Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate. I'm a big foodie so this was impressive. We bought two bottle of Vodka for cheap and was tax and duty free the day before we had to disembark. Disembarkation was scheduled to your time liking. Book it early if you want to leave early. Overall a great time was had by all everywhere. Don't listen to the complaints others had about the food. It was excellent. Service and folks on board were as nice as could be and always smiling. Really makes you want to go back. First vacation I had that I came home relaxed!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda ... Read More
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda suite room. The proximity to the Neptune lounge was a plus. Stateroom and Staff: clean, spacious room with enough room for all of us and our "stuff". Loved the veranda, and being able to have private space to get away to. Room stewards were outstanding. We followed the suggestion of a cruise ship friend/employee, and brought along a bag of chocolate candy. We placed a handful of candies on our pillows in the morning, along with a note of thanks for the room stewards. They were thrilled with their suprises. It was an inexpensive way to show appreciation for keeping the ice bucket filled, and extra towels in the bathroom. We had a chance to meet the Captain a couple of times, and enjoyed his sense of humor. I didn't expect him to be so young. His reply " Not all ship Captains look like Father Christmas!". JT our Cruise Director was a true professional. We wondered if he ever had "down" time? Food: great eats in the Neptune lounge and at the Pinnacle grill. The cappucino/latte machine in the lounge made my day. We had early dining each day, which gave us the evening free to be with friends or see the show. Lido grill was always crowded, and lines were everywhere at mealtime. Kid activities: We were at the beginning of the spring break time, with only 100 kids under 18 on board. The activities for the teenagers over 13 were good. I didn't worry about where they were in the evening, and they didn't seem to get bored. They had a prom one evening, counted the number of stairs in the staircases leading to the Loft, etc. Entertainment: The biggest surprise was the Indonesian crew review. It gave all of us an opportunity to take in some of their culture and customs. We loved it.Negatives: The spa is expensive, even with discounted pricing towards the end of the week. I didn't appreciate the follow up phone calls, urging me to sign up for more treatments. Our waiter called us the evening before the customer satisfaction survey was to be turned in, and asked us to grade his service as a "9". Awkward. Disembarcation took forever. Non-compliant passengers who had not settled their accounts or tried to avoid Immigration slowed things down. The lines to get off the ship seems to go on forever. Not a great way to end our vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our first cruise, and it was a surprise for my wife's 50th birthday. She did not find out the actual itinerary until the night before at dinner in San Diego! We flew in from Sacramento the day before and stayed in the Holiday ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and it was a surprise for my wife's 50th birthday. She did not find out the actual itinerary until the night before at dinner in San Diego! We flew in from Sacramento the day before and stayed in the Holiday Inn On The Bay with a great view of the Constellation out our balcony window. The HAL ship Oosterdam left the berth the day before, and she looked like a bulbous tub compared to the trim Constellation. I kept looking for the three tails on the back of our ship, but never found them (aviation buffs will get my drift!). Embarcation in San Diego went relatively smoothly once we were freed from the clutches of the Federal Government, our Concierge Class status got us into a shorter line and we were onboard and in our stateroom by 2:30. We had a light lunch at the Buffet, and all our bags arrived at the stateroom by 5 PM. I knew at once that the Aft Balcony stateroom 8185 was a great choice. The room was very quiet, we discovered that two of the three kids onboard ship were in the room directly above, but we never heard them with our balcony door closed. There was a bit of vibration and noise from the azipods, but only during periods of following seas. The balcony was large enough to hold 2 padded loungers, 4 chairs, and a large table. The view aft was perfect, and was to prove advantageous during our transit of the Canal. It took a bit of doing to get all the contents of our luggage stowed, but there were sufficient nooks and crannies for everything, and our empty bags fit under the bed. The double bed was comfy and we didn't need extra mattress pads as some folks have reported. Our stateroom steward Iwan and his assistant Leroy were great, we always had a full ice bucket, water pitcher, and daily fruit bowl. The flower bouquet on the desk and the red rose in the bathroom were changed once during the cruise, and the nightly chocolates were much appreciated. Special instructions (like a wine bucket and glasses for our own bottles) were attended to promptly. Unlike other reviewers, we thought the daily CC-class 4pm canapes were just fine, with Brie and caviar on some as well as the more pedestrian seafood paste and ham/olive. The "head" was small but well laid out, and the Hansgrohe shower head was wonderful, with plenty of hot water and good pressure. The CC-class upgraded towels were soft and fluffy. I had absolutely no problem with the much-maligned Italian wall-mounted hairdryer, and never had a need to use the hand-held one. The only gripes I had with our stateroom were very minor - the phone was too large for the nightstand, and every time we answered it, it fell onto the floor. The one overhead light switch turned on 3 fluorescent floods, 4 halogen spots, and one valence light - wasted energy! And when we were on our balcony in port, we occasionally got a bit of cigarette smoke odor from the port side of Deck 10, but none was present when we were underway. I enjoyed going to the Cruise Critic get-together hosted by Celebrity. We got to meet some of the officers and I finally got to put faces to names. Thanks also to whoever organized the Bridge Tour for us Cruise Critic folks as well - that was a highlight of the cruise! Food was somewhat of a mixed bag, but overall I would give it a Good rating. The quality depended a lot on where you ate. We began by ordering our enhanced CC-class room service breakfast, but found the choices were limited so we began going to the Deck 10 buffet for breakfast. This proved disappointing, because most of the American breakfast choices were bad (soggy scrambled eggs, undercooked country potatoes, bagels with more hole than bread, and undistinguished waffles (sorry, Texed). We began eating more international things like pickled herring and congee. It was not until Day 7 that we discovered the Aqua Spa cafe for both breakfast and lunch, and this was EXCELLENT. Our dinners in the MDR were good overall, with some misses like watery bisques, bland Dover sole and seafood, and the cold soups. Avoid the pizza and sushi in the Buffet at all costs, and the hamburgers at the Seaside Cafe which were grey and lifeless. We ate dinner twice in the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant, and that was 5-star! And the almond and chocolate croissants in the Cova Cafe were heavenly. Just don't get snookered into paying $4.00 for hot chocolate at the Cova - a little investigation revealed it was nothing more than Nestle's mix in hot milk. Here's an observation that can help with your food choices. We found that there are two food service management organizations on the ship. One operates the MDR and the Buffet on Deck 10, whereas the other operates the Aqua Spa Cafe, and the Ocean Liners restaurant. The Aqua Spa/Ocean Liners group is by far the best. Our nights in the MDR were made more fun by our table companions, two couples from the UK and one from Vancouver Canada. House wines are pedestrian - the Heron's Nest Cabernet was jarring, and the Wente cab wasn't much better. Talk about young - maybe they would be drinkable in about 5 years. I think they do that on purpose so you buy more expensive wines. We attended the Reidel wine glass workshop, and learned a lot even though we already own some Reidel glassware. Entertainment had its highs and lows. We truly enjoyed the string quartet from the Ukraine, and sought them out in the Cova Cafe on several occasions. They were very versatile and provided excellent accompaniment to some of the other acts. The acapella group was good also, although their baritone got sick partway through the cruise. We enjoyed the violinist Doug Cameron and the Xylosynth player David Meyer. Now here's where we will make some enemies, but Perry Grant was truly awful. Maybe we are too young to appreciate his act, but he seemed to have a bunch of in-jokes relating to movies, shows, and actors that are totally foreign to us as Baby Boomers. As I watched him bouncing away at the piano, I got the creepy feeling that I was watching one of the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel in "The Shining". The production show onstage cast was pretty mediocre, but the orchestra (including the aforementioned string quartet) made it tolerable. We attended two "enrichment" lectures, and they were like night and day. Diane Buffington the psychologist did a hilarious lecture on "talking with your X-chromosome", and my wife has been citing it ever since! We had the pleasure of sitting with Diane and her husband at the Noon special buffet, and we had a great time. On the other hand, where did Celebrity dredge up that crackpot George Stosur? We sat through his Panama Canal lecture, then watched the David McCulloch NOVA program on the Canal in our stateroom. Seems like old George saw that NOVA show also and stole some items word for word for his lecture! After that performance, we weren't about to attend his Bermuda Triangle lecture. On the other hand, the woman that came on the ship to narrate during our transit of the canal was very informative. The shore excursions were all great fun, all of ours were sponsored by Celebrity. We took the semi-sub boat ride in Cabo, went to the Tehuacalo archaeological site outside of Acapulco, attended the Mexican cooking demo in Huatulco, then took the Monteverde walk in the cloud forest tour in Costa Rica. We stayed on the ship through the Canal, but went on the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress tour. Seems like we never had enough time to shop for stuff we wanted (like coffee and local souvenirs), but had altogether too much time at shops that sold stuff we could care less about (like silver, diamonds, emeralds, booze, and fancy watches). Celebrity isn't going to make any money off us in their onboard stores, that's for sure - I'll leave those to the elderly matrons with more money than sense. One aspect of the shore excursions that could use improvement was the organization of the disembarkation process at each port. Seems like things always went smoothly once you were out on the pier, but it was the getting off the ship that was screwy. I know the crew probably wants to keep the location of the gangway quiet so as to avoid a huge crowd, but sometimes it didn't seem that one hand knew what the other hand was doing. In one case, they got us all into the Celebrity Theatre and gave us colored sticky tags for each different shore excursion at Puntarenas. That was good. What wasn't so good was they got someone with a poor command of English who told 5 different groups (including ours) to assemble down at the stage near the front exit. Suddenly someone was screaming at us that we had to clear the area because of fire regulations! Get your act together, Celebrity! You would think they have been arranging shore disembarkations long enough to get it right. Our final night at sea we celebrated my wife's birthday in Ocean Liners, and it was one of the most memorable meals of the cruise. The only disappointment was that her birthday cake (served after we had our dessert) never made it to our stateroom for us to eat later, it disappeared somewhere between Ocean Liners and the housekeeping staff. We did get a set of Celebrity champagne flutes as a consolation gift though. Disembarkation at Miami was a goat rope, but this time it wasn't really due to Celebrity. Why the Feds herd everyone together in one big customs line is incomprehensible - they should separate U.S. citizens and the line would go a lot faster. One unexpected result of this was that I met a great fellow from the UK while we inched forward in the line for nearly an hour. He was an aviaiton trivia fanatic like me, and we have been corresponding ever since. So would we cruise Celebrity again? Probably not (except maybe the Xpedition), and it doesn't have to do with any of what I have reported here. Although we enjoyed our 3 formal nights getting dressed up, we found the "Smart Casual" dining to be a little too formal to do every other night. It was just at odds with our laid-back concept of "vacation" to have to rush back and get dressed for dinner all the time. We know we could avoid that by eating in the Buffet, but the food wasn't as good as in the MDR. We made lots of cruise friends though, and had a great time both onboard and in port. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I simply could not imagine how I would ever enjoy a cruise. All that time on a boat with nothing but bingo, buffets, and booze. Boy, was I wrong. We walked up the gangplank at a little after 2PM on November 22, and I fell in love with the ... Read More
I simply could not imagine how I would ever enjoy a cruise. All that time on a boat with nothing but bingo, buffets, and booze. Boy, was I wrong. We walked up the gangplank at a little after 2PM on November 22, and I fell in love with the Infinity almost immediately. Our stateroom was comfortable, and well planned. There was room to store everything. Our cabin attendant was super. I was also amazed at how good the food was, considering that almost 2,000 guests were fed 3+ meals a day. I expected to be bored, but it simply did not happen. After hearing Milos Radakovich's first lecture, I knew I had to attend every one of them. He was entertaining, and informative, and added so much to the trip. I also did not miss any of the performances in the Celebrity Theatre. What a talented group of young people. Not every performance was top rate, but they all were enjoyable. I knew I would be a port person, as I am an avid traveler, but I did not realize that I would also enjoy the sea days. Just being on the ship was a treat. It was quite warm at all of the ports we visited, especially Cartagena. After an exhausting day of sightseeing, it was so nice to be welcomed back to the ship with iced towels, and cold drinks. I simply can't praise the Infinity, and her crew enough. Our favorite ports were Puerto Vallarta, even though we have been here many times before, and Cartagena. Cartagena is a beautiful city. We could have spent more time here. If I were to stop in Cartagena again, I would just take a taxi into the colonial center of the city, and spend all my time there. We went on a tour that was put together by our fellow cruise critic members, but unfortunately, we spent too much time shopping away from the city's historical heart. A stop at an Emerald Museum was really just another shopping stop. We had two shopping stops, and we had requested 'no shopping". I am not sure if it is possible to take an independent tour in Cartagena that does not include shopping. Our port in Costa Rica was Puerto Caldera, where we took a ship's excursion to San Jose. It was an all day tour, with a lot of time spent on a bus, but we did get to see the National Theatre, the Gold Museum, and charming little Sarchi where the colorful Costa Rican carts are painted. I also took a ship's excursion from Lake Gatun to Panama City. This tour would have been more enjoyable if we had not been forced to wait for over a half hour on a bus while our guide looked for a group of late fellow tourists. However, if I had it to do over again, I would take the same tour, as Panama City was definitely worth a visit. We will be sailing with Celebrity again this year, and hopefully on the Infinity too. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009

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