Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Overall Service.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Background My family has been on many cruises, though this was our first on Celebrity.
We consisted of myself, my husband, our 13 year old daughter and my in-laws. We booked 2 cabins on deck 2, both ocean view.
Flights and Pre-Cruise Hotel My in-laws traveled from El Paso, Texas while we came from Colorado Springs, CO. We met up in Houston and flew together to Fort Lauderdale, FL the day before the cruise. I made independent air and hotel arrangements and was very pleased with our flights on Continental.
We arrived in FLL and called the hotel, Sleep Inn and Suites in Dania for our free shuttle. I'd read many mixed reviews on this hotel, but with the free shuttle and breakfast, decided to try them out. It took 2 phone calls to finally get them to send the shuttle.
My in-laws were surprised at check-in by their oldest friends who happened to be in Florida and spent the night at the hotel. All 3 of us had rooms on the second floor. We were surprised by how nice our rooms were, based on previous reviews, both from Cruise Critic and othersources. We did immediately check the bedding and found it to be fine.
Sleep Inn and Suites is in a residential area. However, there is a Walgreen's next door and a strip-mall across the street. There is a Publix grocery store (they don't sell hard liquor, only beer and wine), a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant (where we ate -- the food was mediocre), and a "Dollar Tree" store in the mall.
We set up our port shuttle at check-in, as did others who would become friends on this cruise. Make sure to reserve space for your trip to the port, or you will need to make your own arrangements!
The pool was a bit chilly -- this from my 13 year old daughter who will swim anywhere. The hot tub looked dirty.
Breakfast was fine with an assortment of juices, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, fresh fruit, cereals, make-your-own waffles, breads and pastries, and hot biscuits and gravy. Fine fare for the price. We used our AAA card and got our rooms for $89 each.
Embarkation The shuttle arrived as promised and took us on a 10 minute (or so) trip to the port. When we arrived, our luggage was dropped off with a porter who produced luggage tags for us (we were e-ticketed and didn't get our tags beforehand). We were leery about leaving our luggage, but did so anyway.
We were then directed to the first of MANY LONG lines. I had expected check-in to be quicker and less painful than it was. And, though I knew that there would not be many children on this trip, I was as surprised as my daughter at the age of our fellow passengers. Even my in-laws who are in their late 70's were surprised by the elderly crowd. I'd guess that the median age on our trip was 70 years old. In all, there were 34 passengers on our trip who were younger than 18. More about that later.
We spent over 1-1/2 hours in lines to board the ship. We arrived at noon, and were onboard a bit before 2PM. Our first welcome to the ship was with a hand-sanitizer wipe -- the first of hundreds we were handed. No welcome champagne or escort to our cabins was offered.
Cabins -- Part One We moved in the direction we were pointed and found our way to our cabins. My in-laws were in cabin 2023 and we had cabin 2014. Very convenient for us to be so close yet so far apart!
Our cabin was smallish, but serviceable. We immediately met Corazon who agreed to remove "anything that costs extra" from our cabin, including overpriced water, a bottle of wine, and the contents of our fridge. The cabin had been prepared for the three of us with 3 life jackets, beach towels, robes, etc. I was very pleased with our first room stewardess.
MAJOR point here -- while unpacking, I got out our power strip. This was not a brand new one, but one which we've used both in our house and on trips. Plugged it in (no, not in the bathroom "shaver only" outlet OR in the European plug -- duh) and heard a pop, fizz sound and watched it as it began to smoke and melt. Unplugged it and tossed it across the bed to my husband who threw it into the shower and doused it with water. After that, we tried the nightlight (the least expensive plug in item we had) before we plugged in camera chargers, laptop, etc. Have NEVER had that result when plugging a power strip in.
As I'd done a lot of research on the ship and prices, we had visited Publix the day before and used our spare "roll up" suitcase which we always pack to bring our own water, soda pop (I'm a Pepsi girl and the ship carries limited Coke products), and fruit juices (in case I'd somehow packed some rum in our suitcases for in-room drinks). This suitcase came to our room quickly, as did all of our other bags and fit well under our bed. Our daughter had a pull-out chair as her bed -- smaller than a twin and probably not great sleeping for anyone over 5'2" and 100 LBS.
After finding our rooms, we went to the Waterfall Café and Grill (aka: the buffet) for lunch. Seating was horrible for the number of guests trying to eat. More on that later, as well.
The Ship I'd expected the ship to be in much worse condition than I found it to be. Yes, there was some frayed carpet and peeling paint, but I spent the first day wondering why it was scheduled for dry-dock. I figured it out later, though!
We split up from the in-laws and started at the top of the ship. It's a ritual we always do when we first arrive on-board. Since I prefer going DOWN stairs to climbing up, we took the elevator to deck 11 and started at the top. This tour allowed us to see some of the worst artwork I've ever imagined. Luckily, we didn't use most of the stairwells from then on.
My daughter peered through the windows of The Tower and looked forward to going there. Unfortunately, they never did open the tower -- even though the "meet and greet" the first evening was scheduled to be there. After waiting for 10 minutes for it to open, we were directed to the Fun Factory.
I'd read that there would always be 6 counselors on any cruise, but there were actually only 3. Therefore, they didn't have the staff to open the Tower.
So, we tried to find the Fun Factory. Be advised that it's difficult to find and can only be accessed by either passing though the Waterfall Café or by using the aft bank of elevators to level 11. It took 4 of us about 10 minutes and a lot of misdirection to find the place.
Most of the ship's public areas were nice. There were a number of nooks and crannies so that you rarely had the feeling of being on an overcrowded ship.
Although I'd read that the Bar at the Edge of the World had horrid décor, we actually LIKED it. It was usually a pretty quiet place.
Lifeboat Drill A fact of life onboard a ship. However, I fear that if this ship ever needs to use the lifeboats, it'll be absolute chaos! We mustered in the Celebrity Theater (along with hundreds of other passengers). My husband commented that on all of the cruises we've ever taken, it was by far the worst. We mustered, heard instructions, and were herded to a lifeboat. No roll-calls, so I suppose that anyone who chose to could skip this ordeal, if they found a place to hide out.
Dining I'd come onboard expecting marvelous food. Boy, was I ever disappointed! There were only two or three exceptional items served throughout the whole cruise. One night, my "medium rare" filet came out as VERY well done. Our server offered to send it back, but since we sat each night for nearly 2 hours at dinner, I refused. One night, my husband's lamb dish came out with no meat!
My in-laws ate most of their breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. We chose to eat in the buffet. Standard fare with little variety.
We got late-seating dinner (though we'd been wait-listed for early). Hence, our daughter either had to skip evening kids' activities or eat elsewhere. She loved getting room service for dinner, but had little room to eat in our cabin.
Entertainment The Party Band seemed to know 15 songs (and not too well). Jefferson Ang was a guitarist and we spent many evenings listening to his music. He, too, had a limited repertoire. Karaoke was a joke, with 2 guys who were pretty good and some truly awful singers, besides. Our daughter really enjoyed the juggler, but he off-loaded after only doing one show. There was a singer who was good, but she made sure that everyone knew that she was selling her CD's outside of the theater. The Acapella group was pretty good, but they reminded me of a small Mormon-boys-choir. I enjoyed them once, then skipped future shows. Also, there was a ventriloquist who was funny the first night and really stale by the second show. Mostly, the entertainment was geared towards the median age -- slow during the day and nearly non-existent come night-fall.
Enrichment There were a couple of lecture-series. One was an expert on the canal who got many of her facts wrong (though her slide show was correct). We sat through only one of her 3 part series. She also sold a book and map outside of the theatre.
There was also a mystery writer. We skipped her talks.
Activities Huh? The only great activity that we did was a kids-club "Family Scavenger Hunt." We were the only family to show up, so they pitted 4 teens against us. My daughter won a backpack filled with "X Club" merchandise. Otherwise, the activities were slow to dead.
Kids' Club Again, with so few kids, the kids' club activities were "modified." Apparently, they continued to offer the activities, but if the kids weren't interested, they let them pick what to do. I didn't bring our daughter on this trip to sit and watch movies and play endless rounds of "Guitar Hero." She, however, had a blast!
DD notes that I haven't said enough "good" about the Fun Factory. So, to be fair to her, I'll add that they had a long wall filled with Playstations and they offered 30 minutes of free play in the arcade. They also had a ball pit and a small outdoor wading pool. When fully staffed, I'd say that the Fun Factory is probably a blast for the 7-12 y/o set.
Photographers They were out in force. More photo opportunities than I've ever had. However, they didn't do a "hard sell" once the pics were done. Also, my daughter decided to get a "Mom and me" shot done, and specifically asked to pose us herself. Once the photographer understood what she was after, he did the best job I've ever seen, actually having us lay on the floor with him taking pictures on his stomach! That sure got a lot of watchers, and sold many more pics, as folks started requesting "special poses." Prices were high for photos ($19.95 for an 8x10), but we bought 8 (and I usually HATE getting my pictures taken).
Service/Staff Second in my cruises only to Regent. Our room stewardess/stewards were good to excellent (more on that later). Our waiter was great -- although the assistant was only fair. We were all surprised to see the Maitre'D each night -- that's a first in all of our 20+ cruises. We had a very drunk and loud lady at the table next to us each night and by mid-cruise I asked him to intervene. From then on, she and the table-mate she argued with took turns in the dining room and it became much more peaceful.
Our daughter LOVED the Ice Cream Lady. She put up with a lot of rude passengers, yet remained lovely.
Guest Relations staff were terrific, within their abilities.
The shipboard medical crew were a very mixed bag -- from lovely to horrid -- read on for details about that!
Daughter and I availed ourselves of the spa one day. We did the "hands and feet" service. I've never done a spa treatment on a ship, and likely won't again. Our attendants were Jamaican and spoke to each other during the whole treatment in a language we didn't understand.
Internet Café In a word -- SLOW. Once, it took 7 minutes to load up their Yahoo front page. (I had their expert watching and he offered me a credit, but then I had to push a couple of times to get said credit. When it finally showed up, it was at $.65/minute as opposed to the plan I'd bought at $.42/minute. Wasn't going to hassle it for a couple of bucks. Also, we weren't able to access any computer until well over halfway through the trip. That sure felt weird on top of the other "events" which were happening to us, by then.
Casino I've never seen such a stingy casino. Celebrity should up the payoffs on the machines. Very few people were in there, unless it was cold outside and they wanted to smoke. The casino is divided into smoking and non-smoking. Half the slots and all of the table games are non-smoking, while portside slots were for smokers. Surprisingly, the non-smoking part wasn't terribly smoky. Good ventilation, I guess.
Smoking Many of the public rooms were divided into smoking/non-smoking. I'm pretty sensitive to smoke, but didn't seem to be bothered much by it (unless I was on the port side). I saw some horribly rude folks sit down on the smoking side in lounges and proceed to fan/hold their noses/etc. Hey, if it bothers you, go starboard! Also, in our final cabin (deck 7 balcony) we had a cigar smoker next door. Now, that's strictly prohibited, but as we were told numerous times by staff -- "unless a passenger complains and can pinpoint an offender, we won't do anything about it." Funny, but EVERYONE who walked past the cigar smoker at the pool bar chose not to complain. Nor did folks complain about people in jeans and t-shirts at dinner.
Shore Excursions We booked 2 prior to our trip. The first was the "Semi-submersible" in Grand Cayman. What a great trip for the family! Our daughter got to swim, husband and I got to snorkel, and the in-laws got to see loads of fish from the comfort of 6' below water benches. I'd highly recommend this to families.
Our second Celebrity excursion was the interactive sea-turtle release program in Acapulco. My in-laws didn't sign up for this one, so it was just the three of us and 29 others. It was a long (boring) bus ride to the farm, but once there, we had a great time. My husband's turtle won the race and his prize was a silly plastic turtle which he treasures.
We did the other stops on our own, and generally hired a cab for city tours. I'd read to speak rapid-fire English in Columbia to get a good driver. It was great advice. However, the guide had his own ideas of where to go and had 11 of us in his van (fully air-conditioned, my behind!) Although none of us wanted to shop, many stops at shops still happened.
Advice for the whole trip: If you have the advantage of speaking/understanding some Spanish, don't give away your secret too quickly. I found the drivers and "guides" discussing things which never would have been talked about had they known I understood them so well.
Debarkation I'd heard that this goes well. We were supposed to be called around 9:15, so had an early breakfast and went back to our staterooms. We were asked to go to public areas by 9AM and there we sat for over an hour. LONG lines, again. They never did call for our group to leave the ship, so eventually lots of us just left. Could have been much better.
San Pedro to LAX I had researched this and decided to not take Supershuttle or Celebrity's shuttle. Instead, we got a cab after debarkation and spent $52 for all of us and our luggage to get to LAX.
Was VERY disappointed with US Airways, as our flight to Phoenix was delayed over an hour, my husband, daughter, and I were removed from the plane because they gave our seats away to stand-by passengers, and our connecting flights were delayed as well. We didn't get home until 2:30AM when we were supposed to be home at 9:30. I'm not sure I'll ever fly with them again.
The Buzzards and the Vultures A strange title, but certainly the feeling I had when dealing with crew and fellow passengers. The Vultures were the folks who sold the gold-by-the-inch, "special priced t-shirts," art auctions, amber, spa treatments, etc. I was shocked by the "nickel and diming" throughout the cruise. I'd expected more refinement. The Buzzards were the ones who pulled the only XL tee-shirt left out of my hands, butted in the buffet line, etc. It was the feeling of being a "mark" to one group or the other for much of the trip. There were some nice folks on this trip. And then, there were the rest of them. There were a LOT of motorized scooters and their drivers were reckless, to say the least! I've never seen so many obese people in one place as I did on this trip. I also can't remember EVER meeting so many entitled and rude people in one place. The median age also affected us -- I'm in my late 40's and felt like a kid.
"Dirty" Details Now, to the dirty details of our trip and why I'm unhappy with X:
12/7: FLL Embarked
12/8: At sea I woke up with some bites on my legs. Had our Cruise Critic Connections party and met a couple of the staff. We hadn't been "in" on the CC list for long, and I didn't feel really welcomed (besides the fact that the Connections boards told me in no uncertain terms that folks didn't want kids on this cruise).
12/9: Grand Cayman MISERABLE night. Spent most of the night in tears with the feeling of being eaten alive. Took Benedryl at 4AM and slept until 8. Went to Guest Relations and was told to go to Medical between 9AM-noon. Since we had booked an excursion, I wasn't willing to skip the paid-for excursion, but had my complaint in prior to our first debarkation. They also said that they'd be changing out our mattresses while we were onshore.
12/10: At sea -- Went to medical, signed a sheet of paper which said I'd pay for all charges, and was told that I was allergic to bedbugs. Was told that I wouldn't have to pay for the consultation afterall. Apparently, I was the second passenger to have this problem, although it's an ongoing problem with the crew. This was by a lovely female doctor from Peru. (By this time, I had over 100 welts all over my body). Many folks in and out of the infirmary while I was there. Big problem with a virus which quarantined the sick person for 3 days and anyone else in the cabin for one. Nothing on the ship about sickness, but suddenly many more hand wipes showing up. I was put on Benedryl, Prednisone, and cortisone cream. We were told to stay out of our cabin for 2 hours while they removed our luggage to get it fumigated. Also was told to stay out of the sun and not drink alcohol until I was done with the Prednisone (3 days). Well, we got done with lunch and went back to cabin 2014. One whiff at the door, and our asthmatic daughter went into an attack. We kept her out of the room. Once we opened the door, we were assaulted by so much insecticide throughout the room that we could only stay in the cabin for minutes at a time. DH interjects here with "There were puddles of white liquid everywhere." My Mother-in-law got some wonderful pictures of wet EVERYTHING (and slipped in the bathroom while doing so), while I went directly to Guest Relations and brought back Janine, the manager. She was aghast at the amount of insecticide used (and all over -- our daughters' lap-top screen is ruined, our toothbrushes were completely sprayed, and an assistant head-housekeeper was busily trying to wipe everything down while telling us that we were going to lose him his job). He proceeded to go to the aft elevator area and cough so badly that I worry even now for the effects of his time spent in our cabin.
Janine told us that the room was now uninhabitable, so we were asked to leave our luggage (which had not been removed) and move our belongings to room 3008. Of course, most of our clothing was wet, so X offered to launder 8 pieces of laundry for free. Our daughter's stuffed Snoopy was slathered, as well, and they put a rush on washing him so that she could sleep that night with her stuffed animal. We submitted about 15 of the worst of the wet, and didn't get a bill (though I haven't checked my Visa statement since I got home). So, we packed up everything in about 10 Celebrity bags and a bunch of Walmart bags which we used to carry our shoes in. Talk about feeling like hillbillies! The stewards carted everything to our new cabin, but we had to spend a LOT of time in a poison-saturated room to get it all together. Had to make another trip to Medical, as the prednisone tablets had been put into an envelope which was doused with insecticide. I couldn't take those pills.
People might say that all cabins are the same size, but 3008 was much smaller than 2014. Our daughter's bed went from small to what she fondly called her "big kid bed" -- referring to it as a toddler bed. The table had to be removed, as it didn't fit with the bed pulled out. Also, I continued to itch in that cabin, so I asked Janine for help. She told me that if, in Columbia, a couple failed to catch up with the ship, we'd be moved again.
12/11: Cartegena -- The itching was nearly intolerable last night, so back to Medical. This time, I sat and waited a LONG time before seeing the chief doctor. Although his tag read that he was from the United States, he barely spoke English. He stated that it was NOT bedbugs, but was a contact dermatitis because while we waited, he went to 2014 and found no signs of bedbugs -- well DUH! -- between the insecticide and replacement of the mattresses TWICE, do you think they'd have been dancing around in the sheets mid-day? Now, I'm told to avoid sun, alcohol, tight clothing (underwear!), and turkey and pork (the turkey is apparently basted in pork juices for flavor). I broke down and cried about the restrictions. The doctor informed me that since he doesn't drink alcohol, it shouldn't be an issue for me. Hey, it is my VACATION! Well, actually, it became my liver's vacation. What a way to detox one's body. He put me on a triple dose of prednisone, use a "special soap" twice a day (which doesn't lather and smells a LOT like cabin 2014 did after the fumigation), and told me to use ice packs to numb the itching. He said that if it were bedbugs, everyone in our cabin would have the same reaction. By the end of the cruise, everyone in our group had welts.
Also, I spoke with one of the waiters stationed to pass out anti-bacterial hand wipes about their ineffectiveness against viruses. Within an hour, announcements began that nothing replaces hand washing. However, the staff now begins to wear gloves, some wear masks, and the ship is being wiped down with bleach. (Many folks later complained to Guest Relations about ruined clothes. New announcements commence about not leaning on wet surfaces.)
In the meantime, the couple doesn't make the ship and we're moved again to 7047. We've got a balcony and I'm not getting any new bites in our cabin. Also, the second move was so much easier as our stuff wasn't wet with insecticide. The card room seems to have bugs, though, as each time we go there, we all get new bites. In our newest room, the steward does not remove contents of fridge, add another robe, or bring us an extra beach towel. He does get us the third life-jacket, though. He was a fair steward, but I'm fed up. Oh, by this time, I've had 6 room keys -- 2014, a replacement as my new one won't access the internet (nor does this one -- couldn't get online until after Acapulco); 3008, a replacement because I can't charge anything (dh says he had to pay extra for that card!); 7047, a replacement because my key won't let me off the ship in Columbia.
Days pass with my liver on vacation and myself being in the shade and they're finally admitting a "Norwalk-like virus is on the ship and hand washing is the best way to deal with it."
12/14: Back to Medical asking for a copy of my records. Request refused.
12/15: Late last night, we hear that one of the bar servers has bedbugs. I gave her some benedryl and dh told her to see the female doctor. She reports today that she's cleaning her cabin, but her cabin-mate won't let her go to Medical, as it would mean the ruin of a lot of their things. Apparently, they all know what the fumigation team is capable of!
Note from dh in our daily log: "12/15 -- There is noro-virus on the ship. All of their cleaning programs will be ineffective as long as people are keeping their symptoms to themselves. They have seen others go into quarantine, so they don't mention their diarrhea. Instead, they use the pool and public restrooms along with the healthy cruisers. I saw evidence today in the men's room by the T-Pool. Oh, by the way, I now have visible and itchy bites."
12/16: Waitress-friend goes to Medical and gets diagnosis of bed-bugs. (More details which I've deleted to protect her privacy. Do have her name and that of another passenger on this trip and am awaiting response from corporate.)
Also, have now heard that we're "Code Red." However, reading these boards tells me that "code red" means different things on different X ships. Still self-serve at buffet, still have salt/pepper shakers. However, no staff may leave the ship in LA and even back-to-back must debark in LA and won't be allowed right back on the ship. Has me wondering what time they began loading folks for the next trip.
12/16 -- 12/19: Liver's still on vacation, but the "special soap" is helping. Still itching, though.
12/19 -- 12/20: Quit the prednisone and drink heavily of the fruit-juice I brought!!! Quit the soap and immediately start getting numerous new bites in multiple public areas.
12/21: OFF THE SHIP and headed home.
Conclusion We're all of the firm belief that nobody has the power to ruin your day but yourself. Hence, it was a good trip. We hadn't seen the in-laws in 4 years and to get the experience of the Panama Canal with them was priceless. The staff on this trip put up with some of the rudest people I've ever encountered, and (for the most part) handled them graciously. I saw a woman berate one of the guys at guest services and he stood and took it. (I made a point of going to Guest Relations daily just to say "HI." After all they dealt with regarding my issues, I felt it important to show them my gracious side).
HOWEVER, I expected X to immediately contact me. They haven't. Nor have they responded to my e-mail. I've asked my TA to find a remedy for this trip, but he's on vacation.
Right now, though, I'm still trying to find out what the insecticide was, as our asthmatic daughter has had non-stop coughing since the fumigation and her doctor needs the information. No word yet.
My Wife and I are reasonably experienced cruisers (over 20) principally on Holland America, Princess, Disney etc. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. The trip left Oct 10 for 13 days from Bayonne, N.J.
Check in began easily, although Celebrity lets people with incomplete paperwork come to the counter and complete it in front of people who have "so called" Express boarding. Things broke down quickly as we found that the check in area was a long mile to the ship, so we were required to board ancient shuttle buses. With wheelchairs, carry on luggage, and walkers, this was a real zoo. Cabins were not ready, so we went to the buffet, which was ok.
When we made it to our inside cabin, it seemed fine, except that there was no table assignment card. We had never encountered this before, and when I called the customer assistance line, they were disinterested in helping, other than to tell me to see the Maitre D. When I found this person, he was chatting with two people trying to change their dining time, while his assistant tried to hold off over 100 people withvarious problems, primarily that a lot of cabins did not have table cards. Fixing this was slow because only the Maitre D could use the computer to discover the table number. The rest of the day was ok, although dinner was average at best. As it turned out, this was one of the better dinners.
We are fond of Trivial Pursuit and similar games, and an excellent selection was offered. Incredibly, the cruise staff person who did most of the games at first was a nice young lady from Liverpool, who spoke a dialect that was almost incomprehensible, not only to us, but to two British couples we met, one of whom lived 20 miles from Liverpool. Since the movies on offer were ancient, the library tiny, and the other entertainment was poor, except for 3 really good stage shows, we persevered with the games. Playing trivia when you are understanding about two words in five is an experience. Apparently we were not alone, as a few days later other cruise staff members were brought in for some of the games.
We had signed up for a ship's tour of Acadia National Park, and were issued tickets telling us to meet on the pier. As a result we sat alone on the pier until I went up to the street where a mob was waiting in total confusion. An Indian lady from the Tour staff was looking totally overwhelmed, as an inadequate number of buses had been ordered, but fortunately the local bus company people took over and got everyone organized. I tried later to alert the Tour staff to the confusion, but met total disinterest.
Trying to keep this as short as possible:
Food: Breakfast and Lunch -- Adequate; Dinners -- Poor to fair food, service excellent.
The best meal we had was at a Perkins restaurant on the way home.
Our Cabin Steward: A real gem.
The Crew: Disorganized. A prevalent theory I heard from several passengers was that this was a replacement crew on their first cruise.
After all of the above, the norovirus infestation was a comparatively minor annoyance. As usual, there was no formal communication about the problem, but watching every available surface being sprayed with bleach (leaving many people with interesting stripes on their clothes), and me and others with bronchitis, got me asking questions and a knowledgeable crew member clued me in.
Disembarkation: The less said the better. My luggage was not put with the proper color code. When finally found, it was damaged. Buses back to the terminal were newer, and even more difficult to use with wheelchairs and luggage.
Would I travel with Celebrity again? Not if they paid me to go. If this is premium cruising, I will stick with less fancy ships with crews that know and care what they are doing. Mention of these issues on the comment cards went unnoticed.
We have just returned from our third Transatlantic cruise and the first one on the Celebrity Constellation. You need to know that we are very happy with RCCL and that it has been our preferred cruise line for 18 past cruises. We also believe that everything that we had read said that Celebrtity Cruise Lines is rated higher and so our expectations were greater. We sailed with 33 friends and family so our overall experience does not only reflect our opinion.
We stayed in the Concierge Cabins on deck 9 and our room and service were excellant. Would I pay the difference we paid for this service again? No, but it was worth trying once. $400.00 for a bottle of Champagne and floweres that we had for 9 days, a pillow menu and heavy robes did not make up for the cost.
Our main complaint was the cost of everything onboard. Everything was higher than RCCL -- up to and including Bingo, Drinks, Pictures and Alternative Dining (not to mention the Diamond Club Benefits). Celebrity really does not have a great rewards program for the people that serve them the best.
The othercomplaint by the entire group was no communication. We had a major tender problems in England, high seas on the crossing, stayed in one port in Canada and changed one port, plus the power went out almost every night. Wake up calls happened for us three times at 3:15 A.M. (due to power outages). There was little or no communication. Some first-time cruisers in our group were very worried about their safety.
We are very sorry to report that this was not our favorite cruise and we will probably not cruise Celebrity again.
After wondering for the better part of two years whether cruising was for me (my life has been filled with adventure vacations), I planned and booked a cruise on Celebrity Millennium, along with my sister, with four Eastern Caribbean stops (San Juan, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Campos de Camp in the Dominican Republic and Labadie, Haiti.
I live in Broward County, Florida, so getting to the boat was as simple as asking a friend for a 15 minute drive. Embarkation went slower than normal (according to cruise veterans), in large part because the Millennium had just crossed the Atlantic and as a result Immigration, Customs and Coast Guard inspection took a big longer. Nevertheless, we were on the ship within 90 minutes of arriving at the terminal, feeling positive and ready for my new adventure.
Things were going right from the start. My sister's pre-booked Spa times were in place, our excursion tickets were in our room, so we have plenty of time to explore our new ship (home) of the next seven days and have a buffet lunch up on Deck 10. The muster drill went well and I amsure by the second cruise will be a big bore. Now, on to the particulars:
Ship Millennium looks good. The various art offerings around the ship were really amazing and often thought-provoking. There is normal wear and tear. During the trip, the wood rails on Deck 11 were sanded and varnished, so it appears that there is ongoing maintenance.
Stateroom We were in a CC room on the 8th Deck. Immediately, my sister fell in love with the veranda and spent many a restful hour enjoying the sea rushing by. Rooms are a bit small by hotel standards, but there is plenty of space for storage and after all, we did not go on the cruise to sit in our room (veranda excepted).
Dining We expected this to be one of the highlights and it was. Our tablemates were Celebrity veterans returning to cruising after being part of the famous Princess "tilt cruise". Their experiences and advices were a highlight of dining. The food was really good. (NOTE: The appetizers and soups were absolutely gourmet). The Olympic Specialty Restaurant offered one of the best meals of my life to celebrate my 65th birthday and the harpist played Happy Birthday on the harp -- a real first.
Entertainment The entertainment was surprisingly good. The Celebrity Dancers and Singers put on three wonderful productions and two of their singers (a soprano and tenor) were absolutely outstanding. A pianist, Antonio Salci, put on a first rate, audience interactive concert. A guitar playing comedian, John Charles, was not my cup of tea, but others in the audience seemed to enjoy his show. Finally, two gymnasts put on feats of flexibility and strength that were truly amazing.
Excursions One of our excursions, a sunset cruise in San Juan, was cancelled -- bummer. Instead I went on a short tour with a street side vendor whose color and personality made up for the lost excursion. In Tortola, I took the Sea and See excursion from which I have some beautiful photos. In Casa de Campo, I took a trip down the Chavon River which turned into Salsa dance lessons -- unexpected, but absolutely fun.
Service The service was an absolute highlight of the trip. Staff always offered a friendly nod as we passed. Our waiters, Jon A and Mauricio, were a wonder -- coordinated, efficient, and always smiling. They definitely added to our dining. Our housekeepers kept our room spotless and the assistant housekeeper often spotted me in the hallway and went over to unlock the door for me. Even in the Aqua Spa, the services were excellent and one of the young ladies, Renee, helped my sister with a knee problem throughout the week.
The Future Yes, more cruising. Next trip is back on the Millennium for a northbound trip on 27 June, 2008. I cannot wait for those excursions!
We sailed the Summit 14 nt full Panama transit eastbound from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale on Nov 23, 2007. Embarkation was good although there was a long line-up getting onto the ship. Room was available as soon as we boarded at about 1 pm. This was our 5th Celebrity cruise. We are 50 plus, fit and adventurous. The itinerary itself was not very port intensive. This would be our only complaint as there were a lot of sea days. There's not a lot to do on board on those sea days if you're not into bingo or trivia games, etc.
Ports included Cabo San Lucas where we kayaked over to the rocks and Lovers Beach; Acapulco, we had a blast rafting down the Papagayo River (booked with ship); Huatulco, we hired a boat to take us to a gorgeous deserted beach (Organo) where the snorkeling was amazing; Puntarenas CR, we hired a taxi for a 4-5 hour tour which we enjoyed; cruising the canal in Panama with a brief stop at the Cristobel Pier; and the final port of call in Cartagena Columbia which is an amazing place to visitif you like history.
After sampling some less than great food two years ago, Celebrity shone on this trip. The food in the Cosmopolitan Dining was outstanding. The service, as always on Celebrity, was impeccable. The Waterfall buffet kept a varied and tasty menu we used for most lunches and breakfasts. Also sampled the grill fare and the pasta, sushi, and spa food bars. We have no complaints about the food whatsoever. The Grand Buffet had the best Beef Wellington on the planet, and the midnight chocolate buffet was the best we have sampled. We skipped the Tex-Mex night on the pool deck but enjoyed the fruit, chicken, ribs, and cookies on the Tropical Night. We enjoyed our first tour of the ships galley, arranged with the very personable Ass't Maitre'd. Very reassuring to see the degree of cleanliness, recycling etc., as well as the amazing food preparation.
Entertainment was very good. There may have been a new trainee on the sound board because frequently the singer would begin singing and for two bars there was no power in the microphone. The large Production crew (5 singers and 11 dancers) were very professional and not over-used as on some ships. We also enjoyed the magician, comedian, ventriloquist, hammer-dulcimer player, and baritone.
The gym is very well equipped and seldom full. Never a problem getting a machine. We enjoyed both the outdoor and the spa pool. Hot tubs were not hot until the last few days. Outdoor pool was usually a bit cool but we were happy with it in the hot sun.
Other than the lack of things to do on board (which was really not a problem since we were there to RELAX) there is nothing that went wrong with the Summit journey. Unfortunately, people get cranky going through the canal as they fight over who was here first and trying to take photos. This was surpassed only on disembarkation day! We had opted for the early disembarkation carrying our own luggage since we had early flights. We were supposed to present our card for this purpose at the gangway. They were never asked for and there definitely were several hundred people who just decided to leave early regardless of their assigned luggage tag color. We noted them looking for their luggage in the large warehouse as we hauled ours out. The Ft Lauderdale facility seems very inadequate and poorly organized. One elderly personnel was instructing American citizens to the left, others to the right. Then we hit a screaming woman who said just the opposite. There were only two lines for customs and it was a bit of a zoo. Unfortunately, while still on the ship and the 8:30 exit time passed, people were verbally abusive to the staff who had very little recourse as the port authorities were not ready. Not the best disembarkation we have ever experienced, but it really wasn't that bad, in spite of the angry hordes who would say otherwise.
Overall, a fantastic two weeks aboard a gorgeous ship.
This review describes our 28 days back to back cruise of South America, Nov 11th to Dec 9, 2007. First, let me say that my husband and I are very positive travelers and we tend to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Also, we have learned to keep an open mind during our travels and to thoroughly appreciate and learn from every experience and focus on how lucky we are to live such wonderful life experiences. If there are problems, we discreetly go the source and it is solved. Also, we are encouraged to fill out comment/suggestion cards and leave them at customer relations desk, where they are considered very seriously. No need to bicker outloud. Sadly, there are too many picky, demanding and criticizing travelers. For the most part, on this cruise, the guests were kind, polite with a good sense of humor, which is needed during travels. Also, most of the passengers were of mature age which translated in a quieter atmosphere. We are pleased to have met many wonderful fellow cruisers from around the world.
Our cruise began in Fort Lauderdale where we arrived atthe port around 11:30AM. Embarkation was quick, efficient, courteous and within one half hour we were having lunch at the buffet, after which we changed and headed for the pool. Our room was ready at 1:00PM and our suitcases arrived around 3:00PM.
We were graciously greeted and served champagne cocktail. The ship was beautiful, spotless and very impressive. Muster drill at 4:30 was quick (30 minutes).
The Staff They made our trip most enjoyable. Each and every one of the staff was polite, helpful and spent time talking and joking with the guests. The best staff ever!!
Cabin We had a 7th floor balcony room, roomy, lots of storage and very clean. We shortly met our room steward who took very good care of us during the entire month and greeted us with a smile each day.
Dinner We were scheduled at the early seating 6:00PM as requested. The Trellis dining room is very elegant, live music often. We thought the menu to be amazing: choice of 3 appetizers, 3 soups (one cold), 3 salads, 5 entrees and several desserts. We were utterly spoiled by our superb waiter, Alexandru Brad (table 584), a Romanian young man who quickly learned our likes. Whatever we wanted, we got and more. We asked to keep our waiter the entire 28 days, we had such a good time with him and his team. We also enjoyed the buffet breakfasts, omelet stations, the poolside grill and the spa café restaurant. There was always a large variety of menus. There is also alternative dining on deck ten, a little more casual, but with nice menu and table service. We went twice and enjoyed ourselves. During a 2 week cruise, there are 3 formal dinners and the balance between informal and casual, which was fine with most.
The Ship We loved Infinity! With full capacity of 1950 guests, we never felt crowded. There were always areas to be found for quiet reading. The staff was constantly cleaning. There were plenty of loungers by the pools and we were even supplied with blankets for cool days. We mostly enjoyed the Thalassotherapy pool and hot tubs, especially during cool days, which were numerous. We used the gym facilities on sea days, as we tried to walk off a few calories. We had a tour of the galley/kitchen. It is amazing what goes in the ordering and preparation of meals for all guests.
Entertainment We thoroughly enjoyed the Infinity dancers and singers. What energy and high quality performance! Not to miss. There were three major productions shows during each 2 weeks cruise. We attended them twice. Several guest performers were wonderful as well: Jan Stirling (pianist), The Marquez Jazz Trio, The Rosario Boys Quartet etc. The various ship performers/bands were quite talented as well. There was always entertainment to be found somewhere on the ship. Our cruise director Jeff Potts was excellent at his job. Celebrity: They organized Cruise critic parties for each of the two week trips. Thank you. Also, they prepared a lunch feast for back to back cruisers. (with ice sculptures and all.) Thank you.
Celebrity went out of their way to please their guests and make our vacation as pleasant as possible. The entire staff was amazing, and we were treated royally on this cruise. During sea days, we relaxed and participated in a few of the on board activities. There was always something for everyone. Every day, Celebrity Today, the daily information paper delivered to our stateroom gave a short history and points of interest of coming ports as well as all activities on board. We were well informed. The ship chose to limit the loudspeaker announcements, which was appreciated by all.
The Ports Remember, these are our experiences and opinions.
Cartegena: A Colombian acquaintance showed us around the city, the old monastery, Fort San Felipe and the Old City, and Boca Grande (the new hotel zone) all very worthwhile visiting. Loved the Old City!!! Super hot and humid. Upon returning at the ship, we were handed cold facecloths and punch. What a thoughtful touch from Infinity. (And hot chocolate on cool days.) Thoroughly enjoyed the Panama Canal transit. Lush vegetation, amazing learning experience.
Manta-Ecuador: Took a cab with another couple, 30$/3hours per couple. Took us to Monterchristi's open market where Panama hats are made and sold along with other Ecuadorian crafts. We returned to the Civic Square in Manta for more market shopping. We could have avoided Montechristi as we saw the same wares for sale. Ecuadorians are very soft spoken and warm people. We enjoyed our visit.
Lima-Peru: We rented a cab with a wonderful couple whom we met on cruise critic, the driver agreed to accompany us everywhere, The Plaza de Armas, The Cathedral, The Franciscan Monastery (Catacombs), the market and lastly to a flower greenhouse where we purchased flowers 4$/2 doz. No problem taking them aboard. The Plaza in downtown Lima was amazingly grand and beautiful. We watched the changing of the guard. The Peruvians we met are wonderfully warm and welcoming. Taxis can be rented at the pier for an average of 15$/hr. Great day, great weather! PS. The downtown area felt very safe- lots of police. Be prudent: leave valuables on board. We enjoyed the ½ hr scenic drive to downtown Lima, quite a bustling city of 3 millions.
Arica-Chile: Arica is a mid-size seaside town of 185,000 bordered by desert and some fertile valleys. We took a cab for a 2/hr visit to the cathedral, el Morro de Arica, San Miguel de Azapa where we saw an interesting and beautiful cemetery, geoglyphs. We returned and strolled downtown. A worthwhile long enough visit in a very nice and safe port city.
La Serena-Chile: What a beautiful town! Gorgeous architecture, very clean and spacious. A good blend of old and modern shopping. Get a taxi at the pier and get dropped off the Plaza de Armas for own walking tour.
Valparaiso-Chile: Valparaiso is a worthwhile city to visit, a VERY busy cargo port, many plazas, beautiful architecture and several museums. The view from Cerro Cristobal is amazing. We took a cab to Vina de Mar and were disappointed. Not too much to see. Everything is closed on Sunday. We recommend hiring a taxi and guide for an hour to thoroughly visit the city. On Sundays there are several ferias/open air markets. A reminder: Please be returned to "Embarque"(where you go through customs) station (and not the dock) where you catch Bus Shuttle to the ship. We arrived in Valparaiso around 4AM and immediately, loading and unloading merchandise began. Since our room was on starboard side, it was very noisy. You may want to request a port side room to avoid port noises.
The Second Half of Our Trip These were the ports for the second half of our back-to-back cruise:
Puerto Montt-Chile: Puerto Montt (a tender port) was one of our favorite stops. Got a group of ten in a minivan for a 3/h (which ended up lasting 5 hours) 30$/each. Visited the Petruhue Falls, Lake Llanquihue, Emerald Lake, approx. 2 hr ride each way with stops. AMAZING scenery, view of Orsono Volcano and snow peaked mountains. Much German influence in architecture, beautiful farms and estates by the lake and large modern developments. We returned through Puerto Varas, a lovely tourist town by the lake. A tour in Puerto Montt is a must!
The Fjords of Chile: Slow cruising through the Fjords was a sight to behold: mountain cliffs, glacial valleys, snow peaked mountains. Wonderful days.
Puntas Arenas-Chile: Tender port. Rented a cab for a couple of hours. Visited downtown, the Cemetery (Amazing) and walked around the Plaza (crafts markets) before returning to ship. Lovely town of 120,000.
Ushuaia-Argentina: Beautiful city, surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Rented a cab for 3 hours: Visited Terra del Fuego National Park (7$entrance fee) and Martial Glacier. Beautiful scenery. Lovely shopping and quaint restaurants on main street. Loved this port!
Around the Horn: The ship cruised slowly for an entire day around the horn.
Port Stanley: Very long tendering process. Must provide more tendering boats. Weather was very variable: sunny, windy, rainy, hail. We took a shuttle bus from the pier to Gypso Cove to see the penguins. We saw them but from a distance. Very cute!!!! Walked in town, very busy this day as there were three ships in port. The island is barren, not too much to see but we are glad we got to visit this area. Very choppy seas this night, much ship movement.
Puerto Madryn-Argentina: We loved this port. We took a Punta Tumbo tour. We were 3 in a very nice SUV. Long ride but very much worth the trip as we saw and walked around thousands of Magellan penguins and their babies. What a highlight! We visited Gayman, a lovely Welsh town. Returned to town, Puerto Madryn is a lovely oceanside town with a superb promenade and shops. Great weather and great guide. We lucked out in this port. This was by far our favorite port.
Montevideo-Uruguay: We walked from the pier directly to downtown to the shopping/restaurant area. Lots to visit. A 3hr walk around town allowed us to visit several blocks and plazas. Many wonderful architectural buildings. Before boarding, we sat a little outdoor pub and people watched. One liter bottle of beer: 3$. As you can see, we opted for private taxi tours instead of expensive ship tours. This way, we got to visit touristy and out of the way sights and mingle more with the locals on a personal level. (It helped that I speak the language semi-adequately and at no time did we feel unsafe). Many guests chose ship tours for security reasons.
Buenos Aires-Argentina: Now here is a city!! All 3 million and plus.
Disembarkation Disembarkation from the ship went well, followed by shuttle to the terminal. Utter chaos at the terminal. (We learned that 3 ships were disembarking) Finally we found our driver/guide who took us to our B&B to Adrogue (30 minutes from downtown), where we spent the next 6 days.
Next day, he took us on an 8 hr personal tour of the city (the best!) Highlights: Teatro Colon (Grand building being renovated), the Plaza de Many (Gov. House, Cathedral. Town Hall, and huge and impressive works of architectural art, depicting ornate Spanish and colonial styles), Recoleta area (beautiful promenade and fashionable stores and homes) and the Cemenatrio de la Recoleta (amazing!), our Lady of the Pilar Church, San Telmo, La Boca (very interesting historically and visually, the setting for painters, artisans, open air tango shows.
Shopping: We shopped two full days on Calle Florida and Lavalle. Incredible experience: Beautiful stores, leather factories abound (I had a jacket made to order, very reasonably priced), thousands of people, outdoor tango dancing, musicians, etc. Very busy city. A visit to Galeria Pacifica is a must. One would need several days to thoroughly absorb and visit all that this city has to offer. We were quite impressed. The train and subway ride (extremely inexpensive) from Adrogue (1-1/2hr) to downtown was an adventure and an experience in itself -- not for the claustrophobics and not up to North American standards. There is also a mini-bus service if one chooses. We stayed at Teresita B&B: very comfortable and quiet cottage, good service. We flew back to Miami with American Airlines. All went well. We returned home on Dec 20th, in time for the holidays. This was a trip of a lifetime which we will remember forever. We made great friends. Would we travel on Infinity again? Definitely Yes, in a heartbeat.
We just returned from a 7-night cruise of the Galapagos Islands on the Celebrity Xpedition. It was fantastic! The islands themselves were incredible, and the naturalists were very well informed and friendly. They also seemed to genuinely love seeing all of the plants and animals too, although you'd think they could easily be bored.
The ship itself was quite new and very comfortable. Showers had excellent pressure, beds were nice. Food was good, but not great, mostly probably due to the requirement that everything is grown in the Galapagos or the Ecuadorian mainland. They did the best they could. Wine was from Chile and Argentina and was quite good.
Another great thing about the cruise was that everything was included, even top shelf liquor, mixed drinks, etc. No tipping either.
A few families were on the cruise. One had an 8 year old, who was just barely able to appreciate the trip. All of the other kids seemed like they were in paradise.
The service was excellent. Since it was a small ship, the staff knew everyone's name and cabin number. At lunch, they knew that I wanted an ice tea and my husbandwanted a Fanta. They also knew everyone's mixed drink preferences and were able to suggest delicious concoctions.
I was a bit worried about sea sickness, but I only needed 2 dramamine pills the whole time. There was one woman who was sick despite a scopolamine patch, but she was the only one, I think.
Overall, fantastic cruise, the best in the Galapagos so far. My only complaint is that since we did not purchase the 10 day package (extra days on the mainland and airfare), the cruise line would not help with airplane arrangements at all. Not very nice on their part. Not at all.
My partner and I recently returned (August 2007) from a 15 day cruise through Scandinavia and Russia aboard the Celebrity Constellation. The Constellation is a Millennium Class ship and sister to Millennium, Galaxy and Century. Although not a "family cruise" per se, with most people on board being 50+ retired or close to and frequent 'cruisers' we had a fine time exploring Scandinavia and the Baltics in comfort and style none the less. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone who is interested in visiting this fabulous part of the world, but critically speaking, I think there are some elements of the Cruise that could be improved upon.
In my review I will provide information on the ship itself and the various Ports of call including the shore excursions (which can be avoided) and general information that 'First Time Cruisers' like us may well find interesting. Celebrity Cruises are by no way a 'budget' cruise line and I would expect people travelling to be aware of this however I will also provide some hints and tips for those wanting to economise slightly because on board and at Port you can quite easilyover spend.
We arrived in London from Australia and had pre and Post cruise Packages for accommodation and Transfers. Accommodation was in Mayfair (City of Westminster) at Grosvenor House which is just first Class. If this was an introduction to Cruising then this was a good initiation. Upon arriving we given an envelope with some departure details and also informed that there would be a representative from Celebrity in the Hotel Foyer that evening around 7:30. That evening when we went to see the rep, there was no body there and no one from Celebrity had reported to reception; so they (Grosvenor reception) were also confused. Eventually we found the lass but without any signage or advertising she was hard to distinguish. A fairly trivia matter and one that did not overly bother us but worth noting in this review; as some other travellers did make mention of it to guest relations onboard.
The transfer to Dover was 'fairly' smooth with the trip lasting just on 2.5 hours. Upon loading the luggage into the coach the driver requested that all bags including carry on should be stored underneath with the suitcases to save space in the cabin. I did not like this idea as my personal documents, (passport etc) always stay with me and after some 'discussion' was decided that passengers could take their hand luggage on board with them. Dover is approximately 70 miles from London; the Ferry Terminal is situated to the east of the town at the Eastern Docks and the Hoverport to the west. Both can be easily reached by foot, bus or taxi from Dover Priory Station. Services operate from London Victoria or London Charing Cross to Dover Priory Station. Arriving at the Dover Terminal, the embarkation process was quick and painless with our luggage arriving at our stateroom soon after without incident or undue delay.
First impressions are everything and being our first cruise we were blown away. The ship was just huge and everything and everyone catered for. There was marble everywhere and glass lifts nearby combined with the plush decor gave a soothing ambience. The entry point to the Ship was on level Three (Ten in total) and after a welcoming champagne we grabbed a seat and watched the others coming on board. Entry to the state rooms would not be till around 1pm so to pass the time by we headed up to the Resort Deck on level 10 for lunch and to check out the pool areas. After a great feed of hamburgers and tacos the message came over the PA that our rooms were ready and off we went to try and find our room.
Our Stateroom with balcony was on the Penthouse deck on level 6. Finding our room took some time as odds and evens were on opposite sides of the ship but we got there. The room was relatively small as you can imagine but was very comfortable and convenient with all necessities catered for and the suitcases fitted underneath the bed out of sight. The balcony was massive and bigger than all of the ones above us and was a welcome surprise and very different to what we were expecting. (Thanks Amy my travel agent for that) From the balcony I could see the loading of the ship and got a great perspective as to the size and enormity of this 92,500 Tonne vessel. A frequently stated adage about cruise cabins is "you don't spend that much time there anyway." This may be true but I still appreciated the fact that I could 'get away' and relax/sunbake (in privacy) when I wanted to and it served as a great place to have breakfast in the morning and dry clothes after hand washing (In port only as they will blow away at sea) We really appreciated the balcony and is well worth the extra money if you can afford it.
There was an evacuation drill at 16:15 prior to departure so doing anything worth while beforehand was pointless, we checked out all the levels including the pools gym and Aqua Spa on the Resort deck (Level 10). The Aqua spa provided and excellent variety of services for both women and men and it was here that we booked facials, massages, make up and hair etc for the entire cruise. It was important to book these as early as possible as the earlier you got in and booked the better the chance you had of obtaining appointments when you wanted them. As we were one of the first to book all of ours would be during the day's at sea meaning all the shore days were free to enjoy. A short stroll from the gym on level 10 was the under cover Thalassotherapy pool and Persian gardens complete with Turkish bath, herbal spa and Arizona room (Dry Sauna). The Persian Room was not a free service but well worth the money if you like this sort of thing. We regularly used it at evenings and it was never crowded.
Continuing our tour we checked out the champagne and martini lounges, Cova coffee lounge and the Emporium (Shopping) on the Entertainment deck (level 5) and the San Marco Restaurant, Rendezvous Lounge, Fortunes Casino and Michaels club on the Promenade deck (Level 4). Continuing down next deck was the Plaza Deck (Level 3) home to Celebrity Theatre, Cinema and the Grand Foyer complete with the Grand marble staircase and plenty of surrounding elegant timbers. At 16:15 we had our evacuation drill and at approximately 17:15 on time the Constellation departed from Dover and set sail.
The Constellation departs Dover and cruises across the North Sea to Helsingborg Sweden which is the first stop. Helsingborg is located in Southern Sweden and lies on the sound, which separates Sweden from Denmark. I this narrow part of the sound the straight of Oresund (or "The Sound" as mariners refer to it) ships from all over the world pass Helsingborg headed to and from ports around the Baltic Sea. This was a Tender Port meaning the Ship did not berth at a pier. Tenders were provided to take you to shore, there is not a lot to see here and an excursion is not required as the main sites are all in walking distance including Karnan Tower and Fredriksdal open air museum. You can get a public ferry to see Kronborg Castle (Ellsinore) on the other side of the sound, in Danish territory if you like but make sure you get some Danish kronor before you go and be weary of the ship departure time.
The next stop was supposed to be Warnemunde, Germany but berthed in Rostock instead. Not sure why this happened and there was no explanation provided by Celebrity. Both places really only serve as an entry point to Berlin than a compelling stop in their own right. Again a shore excursion in Rostock itself is not required here but transport into town is as the pier was approx 10km away. This was one of the costs that annoyed me given the cost of the cruise I felt shuttle bus rides should have been included. I was glad I opted to come into Rostock as it was a beautiful Hanseatic city with its own seaside resort. Located in the Northeast part of Germany on the estuary of the Warnow River, Rostock is the gateway to the Baltic Sea and considered an important seaport and together with Warnemunde, is one of the country's major shipping centres. Both an old and young city the historic city centre breathes Hanseatic flair and there is a considerable amount of North-German gothic brick architecture, including churches, cloister, a city wall and gabled houses. Rostock is also home to the oldest university in the Baltic region ad home to 14,000 students.
A shore excursion to Berlin is available during this berth, however we chose against it having been to Berlin before. Although somewhat pricey $250 euro each I would suggest it as an option as Berlin itself is a fascinating city and the journey by Train and coach would be considerably less difficult than trying to visit on your own in the space of a single day. We spoke to some people who did this trip and apart from the very long day (12 hours) they enjoyed it immensely. That afternoon to keep with the whole German theme there was German food and beer available in the forward bar, (Aptly named the Bar at the end of the Earth) With singing provided from the Rostock choir and with beer and wurst in hand a jovial time was had by all.
The departure from Rostock that evening was something special and I was a little disappointed that the ship did not provide an insight as to what was going to happen because I only caught the end of it. The ship was berthed at the Port and as the vessel is so long you can not see past the nose. Little did we know that a breakwater extended for about a mile after the docks and thousands of people had lined the breakwater to watch the ship sail? There were even fireworks on the Port side (Rostock side) we later found out but as were on starboard side we were not aware of this. Also yachts and boats led the ship out through the heads similar to spectator fleet at the Sydney to Hobart. All in all it was a spectacular ending to a great day and had the ship informed people that it was happening we could have sat up on the deck and watched it all!!!
Next stop after a relaxing day at sea was Helsinki the capital of Finland also known as the City of the Sea. Finland and was founded by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden while the country was under Swedish rule. Although it is Finland's largest city it is relatively small compared to other Scandinavian capitals. Overlooking the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is bordered on the west by Sweden, on the north by Norway, on the east by Russia and on the south by the Gulf of Finland ad Estonia. Finland stretches from Helsinki on the southern coast northward to the Lapland region, which lies mostly above the Arctic Circle. The population of Finland is five million, with one million living on the southern coast in and around Finland.
Again good public transportation and close proximity to the city centre from the cruise terminal allows you to avoid shore excursions in Helsinki that cover the same ground that you can on your own. We were a little disappointed with the city and found there was not a lot to do apart from visit senate square and the local markets so the excursion out into the country side may be a better option for here. You can also take an inexpensive Ferry ride in and around the waterways which is another option if you have time. The Ferry leaves every 15- 30 minutes from the Fish Market in the heart of Helsinki. We did manage to find an internet café in a large department store which was good because the cost of internet access on the ship is just ridiculous. ($75USD 45 minutes) We chose to not use the service on the ship on principal alone. (A point I made also on my passenger feedback card) That evening we noticed a small amount of facial products missing from out stateroom which will be discussed at the end of this review.
The weather again was fabulous continuing the trend thus far with blue skies and warm days and it was hard to fathom that you were in a country that can reach -20 degrees in winter. Always be prepared however as the weather in Europe is unpredictable at best so unless you are certain it will not rain always take an umbrella and coat.
The primary attraction of this trip for us was the Russian portion of the itinerary and although it did not disappoint we would have done things differently if we had our time over again. The major mistake we made was not getting our own Russian tourist Visa so we could do our own thing in St Petersburg on day 2. A Russian tourist visa is required for EACH person who disembarks, which is not included in the cruise cost. We remained berthed in St. Petersburg for two days and it is worth noting that in the case of the Constellation (92,500 tonnes) and other similarly sized cruise ships, the port of call is a commercial shipyard depot about 15 minutes by car from the city centre, rather than at the passenger cruise terminal on the River Neva much closer to the city. End result is unless you are part of an organised shore excursion or you have your own pre-arranged tourist visa you can not leave the ship which for independent travellers like us can be frustrating.
On the first day in St. Petersburg, we did our first excursion, travelling to Moscow by air and coach, which was a one day round trip excursion. (15 hours) Although very expensive it was well worth it as it is one of those places that you may never return to again. Also as St Petersburg is so close (one hour flight) it just made sense to do it. I had wanted to do this trip from the time we made the cruise booking but had reservations due to Russia's aviation history. We flew with 'Rossiya' or Russian Airlines which are operated by the Russian State Transport company and are undergoing an upgrade of their fleet according to the in flight magazine. Being a regular flyer I am comfortable in the air, but the plane was very old and I was glad when it touched down in Moscow. We did get an upgrade to business class on the flight which was most appreciative and the cabin service was warm and friendly.
Moscow is the core and capital city of Russia, home to almost 10 million people. Populous, motley and multilingual Moscow has always had a great attraction thanks to its inexhaustible energy. The date of Moscow's foundation is not lost in the remote past. It is one of the oldest cities in Russia and a settlement might have existed on the site before 1147 the year under which Moscow is for the first time mentioned in the chronicles. For centuries Moscow has been a treasure house for carefully preserved national cultural tradition. All the Russian Tsars and emperors were crowned here in Russia's main cathedral, the ancient Dormition Cathedral and both Peter the great and Catherine the great came to Moscow to celebrate military victories.
The Traffic in Moscow is horrendous with almost 5 million cars on sub standard roads. The city is a perpetual gridlock, and travelling just a few miles can take hours unless you have a skilled local driver. Luckily we had one who said driving fast and not looking both ways is a popular technique. The trip to and from the city was quite warm (30 Degree celcius outside) and the bus was not air conditioned making it very unpleasant for some. Living in a hot, tropical climate in Australia made it almost bearable for us but I felt for the older people on the bus and those accustomed to cooler climates and I am sure it was mentioned in feedback.
Whilst in Moscow we visited the Metro underground which is very different to the humid, dimly lit systems of Paris and London where shoving to shoving to obtain a good seat is a pre requisite. With bronze statues and lovely ornate cornices throughout, it is well worth a look if you are ever there. We also visited the Kremlin and Red Square both of which were just fantastic and impossible to explain on here. Dinner and lunch were both provided and the beef Stroganov and vodka was well received. The experience of seeing Moscow is incomparable, and I highly recommend that you go sometime in your lifetime if you can somehow manage it, even if only for a day. We arrived back at the ship around 1.30am tired but extremely pleased we had done this trip and managed to avoid the pick pockets which are rife in Moscow.
The second day was spent in St. Petersburg which was equally fascinating. We did our second excursion for the cruise to The Hermitage Museum with an exclusive trip to the Gold Room or Treasury Room. The Hermitage Museum began as a winter palace, the home of the Russian emperors from 1763 to 1917. Today the winter palace is one of five buildings that make up the State hermitage Museum. Today the Museum collection which has been put together over the course of two centuries contains almost 3 Million exhibits and for me personally the collection rivals the louvre in Paris (Open for debate). Impossible to see everything, our guide took us past most of the main attractions but the highlight for me was the Gold Room and The Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci and The return of the Prodigal son by Rembrandt.
The tour lasted only three hours meaning we were finished and back on the Ship by 11.30am and it was here that we were disappointed for not getting our own Travel visa. If we had we could have had the rest of the afternoon to explore St Petersburg on our own. We intend to return to this great city again as there are so many sites to see. I would recommend excursions to the summer palaces of the Romanov family and also both Peterhof and Pushkin Palaces if you have time all of which are available on this cruise. The catch is that there are only two days to see all of these great sites so you will need to sacrifice something; but whatever you choose will be an experience you'll never forget.
The next stop was Tallinn, Estonia, a charming old town and well worth a visit. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is located on the bay of Tallinn, which is an inlet of the Gulf of Finland. Situated in northern Europe, Tallinn is a major Baltic port and naval station, as well as being a major industrial centre. Tallinn was once known as Reval, this was the name given when it was ruled by the Danes from 1219 - 1346. During this time a network of streets was developed inside the town walls, these walls are still intact in the old town today. The town is close to the Pier (Easy 15 minutes walk) and easily negotiable by foot. The Holland America Cruise Ship 'Rotterdam' was in Port also and was berthed right along side us. The two ships cut an impressive figure sitting side by side.
Once in the old town we walked the old cobblestone streets and marvelled at this gothic town. It was if time had stood still and if there were not modern cars in the street and tourists everywhere you would think a horse and cart was going to pop around the corner at any minute. The buildings were old and some slanted and crooked only reinforce the age of the house. I remember reading the year 1210 on one of the roof gables. We visited Alexander Nevski Cathedral, built in 1894 in the traditional style of Moscow churches Complete with Onion Domes and the St Nicholas Church dedicated to the Patron Saint of Seamen built in 1230.
Next Stop was Riga, Latvia but unfortunately I am unable to provide any shore information as we stayed on board, choosing instead to enjoy a relaxing day by the pool. Riga is the capital city of Latvia and has a population of 800,000. In the early 30's the city was full of diplomats, traders and intrigues and earned the name of the "Paris of the East" Riga is a well preserved historic city which has a magnificent mix of Latvian, Russian and German influence. Riga straddles the Daugava River along which you will find many places of interest, including old Riga (Vecriga). Riga's axil street running North East from Akmens Bridge (Akmens tilts), is called Kalku Iela as it passes through the old city, then Brivibas Bulvaris as far as the towering Hotel Latvija, about 2km from the river. Returning to the ship we went to the nearby Ferry Terminals to check our emails (Information was in the town map) which. On the way back to the ship we checked our emails at the nearby Ferry Terminals which for $2 Euro for 15 minutes was much better price than on the ship.
Next Stop was Klaipeda, Lithuania. The one thing I loved about this cruise was that there were very few days at sea, (3 in total out of 15) meaning everyday you were in a new city or town in another country. I guess this is one of the reasons people cruise but this itinerary is definitely better than most other cruises we looked at and was a major factor in choosing Celebrity. Again an excursion was not required with the town less than 15 minutes walk away. Klaipeda is Lithuania's only seaport on the Baltic Sea. It has 190,000 inhabitants which is down on the 210,000 people in 1992. Today the city is a major ferry port with connections to Sweden, Denmark and Germany and the architecture has a western European influence. There are popular sea side resorts nearby at the towns of Neringa and Palanga but we did not see these.
There was very little to see in the town and first impressions were of a city which lacked any real character. The buildings were fairly run down and there appeared little in the way of rejuvenation giving an overall feeling of poverty. Transport was similar to St Petersburg and Russia, (Except for the upper class) with old buses and cars and the most of the shops were closed which was odd for a Monday. The only shop I wanted to see, a clock and watch museum was closed Monday's which was disappointing, so we walked back to the ship soon after. There were some interesting excursions out of the city which would have given a better idea of Lithuania and the surrounding country side which is said to be quite lovely and I would encourage people to do this.
Next stop was Copenhagen, Denmark a simply beautiful city which oozes class and royalty and a touch of romance... With its canals, house boats and royalty it reminds me of Amsterdam without the tourists and red light district and Monaco. We had a two day stopover, (which was actually overnight and one day) in Copenhagen arriving in the afternoon and did our third and final excursion, a canal cruise on the first evening. During the Canal cruise we passed several landmarks including; The Den Lille Havfrue or Little mermaid which is the symbol of Copenhagen and the most visited monument in the city. We also passed the Royal Museum of fine arts, the royal library, the opera house an impressive building of ten storey's, with five of these being under the water. The most impressive site was the Rundetarn Tower a 120ft tower erected by King Christian IV in 1642. We really enjoyed the night cruise through the canals and found it quite romantic and highly recommend it to anyone doing this cruise.
The following day we walked into town following the water line admiring million dollar yachts and apartments. Along the way we could see the Royal yacht moored nearby and passed through the Royal palace and other sites. Again an excursion was not required here but the walk into town was a good 30 - 40 minutes (Including video/camera time) meaning some people may struggle. Shuttle buses were again available for a price but we chose to save our money for other things notably shopping which depending on your budget can be done in Copenhagen. The Ostergade is the main shopping precinct and is pedestrian only strip, (However be warned If you are looking for budget shopping in Copenhagen this is not the place to do it) With Gucci, Prada, Rolex and Royal Copenhagen shops throughout window shopping is probably a better option unless you are cashed up.
We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Café which was a fair walk along the Ostergade past Tivoli Gardens before returning to the Ship via the best buy ice cream shop in Europe. We departed Copenhagen that evening and had a day at sea before returning to Dover which gave time to reflect on this wonderful part of the world.
Highlights and Lowlights Specific overall highlights included the service which could not be faltered. With one crew member to every here guests however you would expect nothing less. Our stateroom attendant was fantastic and always welcomed us with a smile, even after the episode with the missing face cream. Other highlights were the Aqua spa; gym (Superbly fitted out with quality gear) Persian Gardens complete with Turkish bath, herbal steam room etc and the enclosed Thalassotherapy pool and spa baths x2 which was so relaxing any time of the day. Outside on deck 10 the two spa baths were also excellent but the two outside pools were cold and it was not just us who thought this as I rarely seen anybody using them.
The nearby Seaside bar and grill immediately next to the pools were perfect for pasta/hamburgers/tacos while reclining with your favourite book. The buffet restaurant inside on level 10 which served more casual (and generally more varied) fare than the primary dining room was always good. You could eat prepared food or have pasta, stir fry's etc cooked on demand whilst you waited. We ate there several times because to be honest we found the whole dressing up and eating at the same time every night with the same people over rated not because we did not enjoy others company, but because we just wanted to be eat normally without having to worry about being formal and table etiquette.
The main dining room on level 4 (The San Marco Restaurant) was a two story affair at the very rear (Aft) of the ship with a huge window overlooking the sea. There were also windows at Port and starboard also overlooking the sea. The chefs and staff consistently served a variety of excellent dishes the entire cruise, including a children's menu. Different tastes in food for so many passengers aboard will likely result in disappointments for one meal or another, but everybody on our table found the food to be above average. (Note I say above average because although good it was not great, a sentiment shared by not only us, but many people especially frequent cruiser.)
The only complaint I have about the food service on this ship was the alcohol prices and the charging for soft drinks with a primary meal. Children can't drink alcohol, and adults don't always want to drink tea, coffee, or water with lunch or dinner. To whole exercise of summoning the bar or wine steward every time a passenger wants a soft drink with a meal is primarily directed to generate more profit. I can understand cruise lines not wanting to supply endless rounds of soft drinks for the never ending thirst of kids but this is not really a family cruise and there were very few children on board. To incur a charge to have a soft drink with a primary meal is a rip off to be honest. Also I found the wine prices to be grossly over priced. I do not mind paying for a god red when it is deserved but I was aware of the prices of several bottles on the wine list from back home and to have a 200% mark up is again just a rip off. All in all it is just another way that some cruise lines exploit their customers.
The Ocean Liners Restaurant on level three provided another eating option. The restaurant was fitted out in similar style to the grand liners of yester years and was elegant in every detail. There was a charge associated with eating here and required a reservation but well worth the money with the meals simply superb and the table service some of the best I have experienced. (A word of warning, if you are going to eat here make sure you go there on an empty stomach as there are 6 courses and cheese). The bars and clubs were all classy with the Champagne bar, Martini bar and 'Michaels Club' in particular with it's piano bar all great ways to relax and enjoy a drink. Again the prices were inflated; with a Bailey's costing almost triple the price in Australia. The disco was located at the front of the ship, aptly named 'The bar at the edge of the Earth' it was spacious had great views out to sea. Being first time cruisers we found the entertainment good but regular cruisers did not and we heard on several occasions that the entertainment was disappointing. The celebrity Theatre which was the primary theatre was well designed and comfortable and Fortunes Casino was always busy.
There is a movie theatre on board that had a variety of current movies playing at most times (Ratings varied from PG to R), and a constant rotation of recent movies on the stateroom TV kept us entertained while changing clothes for dinner or relaxing/winding down in our stateroom.
Outdoor entertainment was plentiful with most sports catered for including basketball, volleyball, tennis and a jogging/walking track and a great selection available for children in the celebrity X-Club. From teen-oriented explorations and entertainment to special opportunities for toddlers and their parents to interact with each other, the X-Club is designed to make sure your children enjoy their Celebrity experience as much as you do. You can even join your children for X-Club Family Events like Karaoke, Family Disco, Bingo and more.
The major disappointment for us was the lack of follow up to our complaint on the missing facial products in our stateroom which was valued at around $150 dollars. Basically the company did not believe us saying there was only two people that had access to our room and neither used moisturisers so reading between the lines we must have been lying. My partner had bought the products from the Aqua Spa on the Ship and was therefore very aware of how much she had used, for the ship to imply that we were making it up was to be frank an insult. At no time did we imply it was a crew member but requested it be replaced however, the ship had a policy that nothing is replaced on board instead you have to make a complaint to head office and try and resolve the issue after disembarkation. ???? The issue was not resolved with management on board and we did not bother completing the complaint form for head office however my partner was given a replacement by a staff member, (Area and name withheld) and we thank her for doing what management should have done in the first place.
Other complaints were the inflated prices for anything on board, including alcohol at the various lounges, tea and coffee at the Nova Coffee bar and of course the Internet. Also expensive were the photographs which were taken on formal nights and at every gangway when exiting the ship. The photos were displayed on level 4 and you could select the ones that you like however, at almost $20USD each these were grossly over priced. I understand that this is how some crew members make extra money but considering they would have to throw a large percentage of the photos out that were not purchased the price could have been reduced significantly. As mentioned previously the shuttle bus rides into town also incurred a price which we thought should be included in the cruise fare; however the cruise company are well aware that people need to get into town at some ports so it is a necessary evil unfortunately unless you want to pay for a taxi.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review, I hope I have provided a useful resource for those that might be considering this ship or its itinerary. Would we take another cruise, yes but being independent travellers we will probably wait a few years. Cruising is great way to see many different countries in style and with very few of the dramas associated with independent travel but this it what we love about travel, the uncertainty and decisions that you have to make in foreign countries. Cruising does not provide this but provides many other opportunities which is the reason it is becoming so popular. Happy cruising!
Would we cruise again with Celebrity - YES
Recommended to other people considering cruising - YES
We had reservations about going on Celebrity Cruise Lines because of a bad experience on the Millenium, when the crew stole all our cash and jewelery out of our room safe. And if that wasn't bad enough, we were called liars when we reported it. but we decided that enough time had passed and we should try them again. We were glad we did because this cruise on the Infinity was a real pleasure and we had no problems whatsoever.The Ship Celebrity Infinity was far above our expectations; very well maintained, a very clean and very well run and managed ship. The ship was laid out very well, very easy to get around and after the second day you didn't need a floor plan. It had a crew that made you feel genuinely welcomed every day. They were exceptionally courteous, helpful and they always projected a feeling of thoroughly enjoying what they were doing on the Infinity. Room & Steward We had an inside room on Deck 7 (7054) just forward of the front elevators. The room was much larger than other reviews had led us to believe. The bed was very comfortable, a lot of closet and drawer space and a bathroom that was well designed with a lot of storage space and a shower that was larger than other ships we have been on. We regret that we have misplaced our steward's name. He was fantastic! Our room was always neat and clean with the greatest towel animals we've ever seen. He added his own personal touches which had us laughing over them every day. "A word of warning" -- The safe in this room doesn't always lock unless you push in on the door real hard while locking it. I reported it, but it never got fixed. Entertainment We found the entertainment on the ship to be really great. We went to all of the productions in the Celebrity Theatre and found them to be top notch. The groups that performed in the various lounges were excellent and it was nice to dance to music that we grew up with. Dining First of all, while the selection of food was excellent, the quality was mediocre when compared to other cruise lines we have been on. The main dining room was absolutely magnificent and featured traditional seating which is what we prefer. We had a very good waiter and assistant waiter but because of the amount of tables they had to take care of service was quite slow. The menu had many selections but as usual were written so no one without a culinary degree would know what was being served. The servings were plentiful but the quality was less than desirable. Buffet The buffet had many choices and it takes a few days for you to discover where everything is. They have many different areas such as a pizza, pasta area, soup and sandwich area, grill area, oriental food area plus the regular buffet lines. If you couldn't find what you wanted to eat, you probably didn't walk far enough. Starting at 5 PM they had a huge sushi bar; bigger than we have ever seen on any other ship. The staff in the buffet area were exceptionally helpful and courteous. There was always someone wanting to carry your tray to your table and while at your table you were bombarded with coffee or tea refills, assorted juices and assorted pastries.
One very neat thing that we found and took advantage of was what the Infinity called "Casual Dining" and it is only featured at the evening meal. This is offered on the buffet deck in the aft quarter of the dining area. It is set up to look like the downstairs dining room complete with table cloths, linen napkins, waiters and menus. Reservations are a must, as they have a limited number of tables. The dress is smart casual. We liked it because it was far quieter than the main dining room and the service was just as good, but faster as there were fewer tables. We ate there three nights out of seven and would highly recommend you trying it. If you are interested, you can look at the menu for that area at the purser's desk and also make your reservation there.The Alaskan Experience We have been dreaming of an Alaskan cruise for the past five years but were really disappointed with the weather. Unfortunately we had cold and rainy weather every day and when we had visibility all we saw were pine tree-covered islands and snow-capped mountains. We were glad we went but would not do the cruise again solely because of the weather being so unpredictable. We were also going to take the five day train tour but decided to fly to San Francisco after our cruise and are very glad we did as we had a wonderful time with very nice weather. Alaskan Ports Ketchikan: We elected to take the walking tour. Maps are available from the Chamber of Commerce building right at the pier. There is lots of helpful information there and people who are eager to answer any questions you have. The walking tour covered all of the highlights of Ketchikan and was about one and a half miles. The usual souvenier shops are all over town but the small privately owned shops are giving way to the big retailers. Unfortunately as the morning wore on, the harder it rained so we were anxious to return to the ship and change into dry clothes instead of shopping. Juneau: We rented a car from Rent-A-Wreck which we found on the internet. I called them personally to make a reservation and was pleasantly surprised from our initial contact with them. They were very helpful and friendly and truly happy we had chosen them. One of the main reasons we did was they were the only rental car agency in Juneau to pick us up directly at the pier and then drop us off at the end of the day. That in itself was a great saving. We paid $57.50 for the day which we thought was a great deal. Once we were picked up we were driven back to their office to do paperwork and pick up our car. We were given a great map with attractions highlighted that were must sees as far as they were concerned. We went to the Mendenhall Glacier, the Mendenhall State Park and then drove up the coastal highway to a shrine located in a great little park with amazing flora and fauna that is so unexpected in a place like Alaska. On our way to the shrine we almost hit a black bear walking across the road. When we got back to the ship and told people they said we saw a bear just driving around, while people who were on excursions to see bears didn't see any at all. We decided to eat lunch down the street from the Rent-A-Wreck office at a place called the Sand Bar Restaurant. Please don't let the exterior scare you away. It is a bar and restaurant -- nothing fancy at all inside or out, but the greatest fresh, fried halibut we have ever tasted. The owner was very friendly and cordial and made us feel very welcome. After lunch we went to the Alaskan Brewery. If you like really good beer you won't want to miss this. You can take a tour and also sample the varieties of beer they make. They also have a nice gift shop. All in all it was a great day, probably the best of the cruise. Icy Strait Point: You have to tender in and once you get on land there is not much to see. You can walk around a little and there are some shops to go in, but not much else to do. We went back to the ship in about an hour or so. A note about scenery watching if you are inside the ship: We found the best place was the Constellation Lounge, located above the Bridge, and if you can get a seat up front you will not be disappointed. The only thing that would be better is if you have great weather and can see everything out on deck. Just a note for women about clothing: Everything you have read about layering clothing is true especially if you have the weather we did. I was so glad I brought long-sleeved tops, sweaters and my windbreaker to layer with. I also either wore jeans or wind pants. Unfortunately I never wore capris or shorts as the weather wasn't warm enough. Also a must is either a windbreaker with a hood or an umbrella if you have rainy weather. Disembarkation Very, very smooth and we got our luggage right away. Right outside the building were plenty of taxis to take us to the airport. The taxi cost about $30 for the trip to the airport.
I cannot give this cruise or cruiseline my personal approval. We took the 2 week cruise to the Hawaiian islands. Staff were friendly, but a bit burned-out. The formal dining room food and service was great, (a big thanks to Vladimere our waiter)but the buffet was dismal at best, and seating arrangements were chaotic, at both lunch and breakfast.
Forget room service for anything but coffee. Ship was clean, but poorly designed.Except for the outside dining at the rear of the ship, the overall deckplans were tiresome.The concourse and atrium areas were small and outdated, the hallways suffered from poor ventilation, the pools were cramped, and many wet areas showed wear and algae. The hot tubs were warm at best, and most needed repair. Marketing seems to be the name of the game, sell, sell, sell.(drinks, jewelery, future cruises, photos, art etc.)
Forget entertainment, unless you still remember the Ed Sullivan show. Of the two weeks on board, we couldn't bring ourselves to sit through an entire night's entertainment. The casino slots paid well, and the men's sauna was a plus. Unfortunately, no steamroom is available without paying $99 for a basic spapackage. We had a concierge class stateroom, which means we got an extra two feet of room and a free bottle of bubbley on arrival, and flowers, and rather tasteless hors d'oeuvres each day and a full size couch, but little else. Each time I tried to call the concierge desk, the line was busy or closed, and there is no operator available on the ships phones. I later found out , only one person is available as the part time concierge.(she did work very hard to help) Overall we enjoyed the cruise, but it took extra effort to find what was what , and how to get around on shore, unless you were part of a ships tour. If you are under 50 years old, find a different cruiseline!! :