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(Review ID: 462)
LONG, detailed review mostly written during our eastbound Panama Canal cruise, November 12, 2010
Quality and quantity of live music and entertainment far exceeded expectations
Embarkation and debarkation were the weakest moments of the experience
saw things this way
Value For Money
Staff and Service
Infinity Panama Canal Cruise 10-24-10The hotel shuttled us over to the port at about 10:20 a.m.ww Luggage handling went fine, filled out the health forms and then found that due to “Delays in disembarkation” they were not yet checking in new passengers. At about 11 someone announced that check-in would begin and only the Concierge level check-in area would be used. It was a mad rush to line up. It seems like Celebrity could have avoided this by issuing numbers for a check-in queue without lines as guests arrived. We didn’t fare too badly and had our sea pass at about 11:25 and a boarding group 3 pass. By noon boarding had not yet begun and the check-in line now exceeded the capacity of the “back and forth” line queue. In talking on board with other passengers the line apparently moved pretty fast and no one reported a check-in wait longer than 45 minutes.Boarding actually began at about 12:15 and we were on board at about 12:30. will say that any displeasure at the embarkation mess was soon forgotten as everyone on board was extremely welcoming. We walked past the Spa Café, the pool grille, the ice cream man “Have dessert first!,” and checked out the general buffet. Everyone without exception said “Welcome aboard!” We ended up doing a combination of foods including steamship of beef, spa cuisine, and some wings from the grill and were very pleased across the board. Also, all the pools were open and fully operational, including the T-Pool.Before we had finished our lunch the announcement was made that cabins were ready. After leisurely finishing our lunch, we proceeded to our cabin and were very pleased with cabin 3111, an ocean-view on the third deck. We carried our swimsuits on in a bag so we changed into them and headed up to the T-Pool. We lazed away the rest of the afternoon until about 3:15 PM, and headed down to our cabin, hoping our luggage might be there in order to dress for dinner before the muster drill. To our surprise ALL our luggage was waiting for us! We were able to be 90 percent unpacked and dressed for dinner when called for the muster drill.The drill itself was longer than typical as all instructions were repeated in German. Apparently there is a large group of travelers on board from Germany. After the drill we proceeded to the aft bar on deck 10 where we met many of our fellow Cruise Critic roll call members. It was a great time meeting many we have been making plans with on-line.We have been assigned table 535 in the dining room, a table for six. One of the other couples was a no-show this first evening. The couple that joined us we were amazed at how much we have in common, so we are hoping for many great dinners together! After dinner we listened to the quartet in the Rendezvous lounge for a while but still adjusting to the time change, we did not make the show. The clocks were moved ahead one hour tonight so that will help us with our adjustment!Monday morning sunrise was not until 7:50 a.m. We were on deck about 7:10 and the eastern horizon was just showing signs of daylight. Breakfast watching the sun come up was a treat, as was having the T-Pool all to ourselves again for an early morning swim. Afterwards, I strolled the ship taking photos, and we got cleaned up for our Cruise Critic connections party, at 10:30. Our connections party was well attended and several officers as well as the cruise director visited. They began mingling but cell phones rang and they all excused themselves. Our party was cut short as at 11 another private group had the room, speaking only in German!We enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing near the pool and took advantage of a “2 for 1” deal on some beverages. We were going to go to the first Panama Canal lecture but were so relaxed at the pool that we decided to stay poolside!Our first formal night dinner was good and again our table for six only had four. We enjoyed a little dancing before and after dinner, and actually made it to the production show which was quite enjoyable. I was actually surprised to find that the cast of singers and dancers numbers 15!Tuesday morning we were again up early and saw the sunrise. We eagerly watched the approach to Cabo San Lucas, our first port call. Not being on a ship’s tour we ended up with tender #13, and waited about 40 minutes in the theater for our number to be called. ack on board about 4:15 and a quick burger and turkey burger for DW at the Breezes grill was needed to hold us over until dinner. I enjoyed the outdoor hot tub while listening to the music of the party band and watching the ship turn and sail away from Cabo.Tuesday night was another time change, so we are now on central time Wednesday morning. This made sunrise at 8:05 so even though we slept later, we still saw the sunrise as we finished breakfast in the spa café. We enjoyed the T-pool, for ourselves for a while and then one other couple came in. The T-Pool was warmer today (very nice) while the hot tubs at the T-Pool were cooler. While relaxing poolside we were impressed with the constant maintenance and cleaning going on all around the pool.It’s still early in the cruise, but I will say that the Infinity shows greater pride in cleanliness and maintenance than the Summit we sailed to Bermuda in June. The crew of the Infinity certainly seem to enjoy their jobs and have been most accommodating.We did seven laps around the deck today (about 1.4 miles) and DW really enjoyed the gym as well. I attended a lecture on cruise ship navigation which was very educational. Wednesday is also the first of two main dining room brunches, which we enjoyed at about noon. I attended a class on travel photography in the early afternoon and it was quite good. I made it to the pool deck just in time to see the ice carving demonstration and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the pool deck. We were alone tonight at our dining room table, just two at our table of six. We are really getting to like our waiter Martinho from Portugal and his assistant, Andreas from Indonesia. Before and after dinner, and again after the show, we listened and danced to the quartet in the Rendezvous. The show tonight was a singer, Lelani Marrell, and she was very good. Again, this is a matter of taste as we did hear several negative comments about Lalani.Thursday morning we sailed into Acapulco bay before daylight. Celebrity brought on a real mariachi band for a “pre sail away” party poolside. They were excellent and we really enjoyed them. We were back at our dining room table again with our new friends, just the four of us. It appears our fifth and sixth chairs may remain vacant for the duration.Friday we visited Huatulco. Friday morning marked our fifth morning in a row that we watched the sun rise! A record I do not expect to break anytime soon! We did our own thing to go swimming/snorkeling at nearby LaEntranga Bay. Our taxi driver on the way to the bay stopped twice to show us nice vantage points and we appreciated his extra effort. The water was delightful and we truly enjoyed Huatulco. Friday was our second formal night and dinner was excellent. The double-thick sirloin was an excellent steak!Both Thursday and Friday we skipped the show. Thursday was a magician who I heard was very entertaining, while Friday was the Infinity cast in a salute to the 70’s.Friday evening the sea really picked up during our first seating dining. At the end of our mealtime many dressed in their finest were carefully swaying their way from the dining room. We witnessed a special Celebrity touch as the maitre'd and a number of the dining room waiters walked the more delicate guests arm-in-arm out of the dining room.Saturday morning brought a very bright and warm day at sea. We witnessed the first real incident of “chair hogs” as by 8:30 all the shady pool chairs on the non-smoking side had towels, books, hats, etc all over them, yet the pools were still closed (from yesterday’s rough seas?) and maybe four people were actually sitting near the pool. The pool deck is nice but there is not much of a breeze there, so we found a couple of deck chairs on deck 4 to relax away a good part of the morning. A full slate of at-sea activities was offered. After enjoying an outdoor lunch on deck 10 aft, we headed to dance lessons. Afterwards, I attended a Panama Canal lecture on the building of the canal during the “American era.” It was well done.We finished up the day by spending some time at the pool listening to the party band, getting ready for dinner, and enjoying dinner and some dancing in the Rendezvous. We made the variety show with a comic and the singer from the other night. This was enjoyable but certainly not the strongest show of the cruise!Sunday morning brought an early Sunrise (no, we did not see it!) and sailing into Punta Arenas, Costa Rica. We had prearranged with 16 other friends to take an extensive tour with Charlie Soto of Okey-Dokey tours. We very much enjoyed our stay in Costa Rica and our tour with Charlie. We made it back to the ship at 6:10 for a 6:45 all aboard. We quickly changed our clothes and made it to dinner! Once again, we were alone at our large table. Dinner service was faster tonight!Monday was a day at sea. We participated in a tour of the galley. The galley tour ended with the SS United States specialty restaurant galley. We were given a small treat and exited into the SS United States, where a cooking demo was being prepared. We stayed for the demo and while somewhat entertaining, it became more of a sales pitch for the specialty venue. I attended the last lecture on the Panama Canal and the expansion project and thought it was excellent. Late in the day (after dinner) a variety show was presented tonight with many of the house performers from all over the ship. It was well worth attending.Tuesday was the Panama Canal crossing, the main event of the cruise and I was sick! I managed to get out on deck for crossing under the bridge of the Americas, but after that spent the rest of the day in the room with a lot of sleeping. My dear wife was charged with taking photos of the crossing and some friends helped her out. By late evening I was feeling better. I was able to watch the ship go through the Gatun Locks out our window and on the TV monitor. Seeing the sides of the canal about a foot from the window was neat. We did not use room service before today, and won’t bother again. Room service gets an F-. Later in the week talked with friends in CC Class cabins and they also said room service is the one area that the Infinity seems unable to get right. Martinho was very concerned when I did not make it to dinner.Wednesday we sailed leisurely (I was told at ~8 nautical MPH) toward Cartagena, Columbia. Used the T-Pool early in the morning and relaxed nearby on loungers. Today is the second brunch of the cruise. We went to the brunch at noon. The prime rib was a “10!” Cute and delicious desserts and nice ice sculptures completed the excellent presentation. Wednesday afternoon was the Captain’s Club party. This was some event! The packed nightclub had nearly 600 in attendance. The open bar menu had something to please everyone. A large food service was also provided (which we did not use as we had just eaten). They served drinks for over 60 minutes and the event lasted 90, including great live performances. A great white egret has become a stowaway on the Infinity. e or she must think she is flying without effort as she has perched herself directly in front of the nightclub windows. We have to believe she can’t see in the windows as a dozen of more were watching and taking photos less than three feet from her.Wednesday night the nightclub was again hopping for the Newlywed/Not so newlywed game. It sure was entertaining Two couples finished tied for points and were both given dinners at the SS United States.Thursday morning brought us to Cartagena, Columbia. The sail-in to Cartagena is very pretty, the new city sparkles on the water. We had prearranged a tour here with Dora, one of the top rated guides. It was our first time to set foot on another continent and a day we will never forget, but that is a story for the ports of call board! We keep hearing snippets about a hurricane hitting Haiti on Friday. Those poor folks don’t get a break. This caused the ship to reroute its course back to Ft. Lauderdale to go around he west side of Cuba. That’s a bit longer, so we will be moving at near flank speed the next two days. A bunker vessel came alongside to provide additional fuel to ensure we have enough to reach FLL. We again were alone at our romantic large table for two for dinner! Martinho and Andreas honestly seem to “miss” their guests when they choose another venue for dinner. The ship really started rocking after leaving Cartagena with the bags out by all the elevators. Tonight was the “Celebrity sweep” in the photo area where various departments are offering end of the cruise discounts. We took advantage of a photo offer. A variety show with guest performers was presented followed by the Celebrity 20th anniversary party in the nightclub. The show was good, but not as good as the performers separately. The anniversary party was a lot of fun until we couldn’t stay awake - this was two late nights in a row!Friday morning was quite fun! The ship is rocking but the pools are open. We used the T-pool and had it to ourselves. Just floating back and forth with the waves is very relaxing. The hot tubs are REALLY hot today! The T-pool is pleasantly cool. Got cleaned up for the main event - somehow we scored a bridge tour invite! The bridge tour was actually a bit of a disappointment. The bridge itself is very impressive, spacious, and spotlessly clean. They only really show you the starboard side control area. Two men on our tour dominated the session with endless questions about minutiae that most seemed not very interested in. The junior officer hosting us answered these questions but seemed unable to turn the conversation to items of a more general interest Back to the pools we went and enjoyed another great sea day!An enjoyable final formal dinner was followed by a production show with the ships cast. This was quite enjoyable. Both before and after the show we were able to get in some dancing to the Baires quartet, performing tonight in the Martini Bar. Tonight was also the dessert extravaganza but as it began at 11 we gave it a pass.Saturday brings our final day on the ship. It is noticeably cooler outdoors and the wind is blowing very strong. We take in the crew’s talent show, always something not to be missed. Following the show and the crew’s “goodbye wave” from the theater stage, the Celebrity Chef’s competition was held. As one of our Cruise Critic group was a guest chef, we decided to stay and cheer them on. She ended up winning!During dinner an announcement was made that arrival in Fort Lauderdale would be delayed until approximately 9:00 A a.m. Some people were extremely upset and I felt bad for the guest services staff. I had suspected arrival would be late as we needed to take the longer route around Western Cuba to avoid a hurricane / tropical storm. I don’t understand why the guests were not informed earlier.Due to the change at Ft. Lauderdale, we did not put our bags out and instead managed to handle our five suitcases ourselves. We were off the ship about 9:35 a.m. and checked in and through security at FLL by 10:30, plenty of time for our 11:50 flight.Summary - What really stands out about our cruise on the Infinity is the live music and entertainment. It was much better than our prior Celebrity cruises. Food is subjective but we would say overall it was good, not great. But good is good. We loved the convenient location of our cabin, #3111. Our MDR wait staff was wonderful. *****!