I am booked on the 14 night Infinity cruise through the Panama Canal on October 8th with my disabled mother, she uses a wheelchair and scooter.
is a fantastic ship, and you booked on a fantastic itinerary. In fact, my first Celebrity cruise was that itinerary aboard that vessel! In fact, I'm going back aboard GTS Infinity
for the cruise immediately after yours, which is going to Hawai'i.
Since I will be the person who signs up for everything what should I do first when I get on board?
Probably take your mother up to the buffet for lunch, then explore the ship to familarize yourself with the layout and the public spaces.
I haven't cruised recently and when I last did, I was with a group.
I don't know on which line(s) you have previously cruised, but be aware that Celebrity is very much a traditional cruise line with a fairly "upscale" roster of loyal passengers who love to dress up in the evenings. On your cruise, there will be three "formal" evenings, four "informal" evenings, and seven "causal" evenings. On the "informal" and "casual" evenings, the line's published dress code tends to be a minimum.
I have heard that if you want to have dinner in the nicer restaurants you have to make reservations right when you get onboard and know the dates you want to reserve.
Not true on Celebrity. Reservations for Celebrity's specialty restaurants are usually available on the same day.
Any particular nights that are the best?
No, but there are four factors that you might want to consider.
>> On the "formal" evenings, the main dining room pulls out all the stops to make the evening special. On Celebrity, "all the stops" typically includes a string quartet playing background music in the main dining room and many of the extra touches, like the sorbet "intermezzo," that the specialty restaurants provide. Thus, I recommend eating in the main dining room on the "formal" evenings.
>> On Celebrity, the specialty restaurants require "informal" attire on "casual" evenings. If dressing up is difficult for your mother (or if dressing your mother is a burden for you), it would be easier to go on an evening when the dress standard is "informal" for the whole ship so you have to dress up anyway.
>> If you and your mother are celebrating a special event during the cruise and you want to dine in the specialty restaurant, you might want to dine there on the night of the special event.
>> If your table gels, it's quite possilble that your whole table might want to go to the specialty restaurant as a group. If that happens, suggest going on a night that is NOT a formal evening -- but go along.
I should mention that Celebrity's specialty restaurants are extremely fancy, and that they are the most expensive specialty restauarants on the high seas. The price is not $30 per person. Rather, it's $30 per person above the value of dinner in the main dining room
Anything else I should do when I first get on?
You might want to stop by the "Guest Relations" desk and confirm any special arrangements that you have made to accommodate your mother's condition.
BTW, there's one thing that you might want to do before you go. Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL), offers a shipboard credit
for stockholders who own at least 100 shares. This shipboard credit is fully combinable with all other promotions and offers, and it's available on every cruise that a qualified shareholder takes on either of the company's lines. There's still enough time to have your broker buy a hundred shares in your account and then to send in the paperwork to obtain the credit. You also can own the shares through a retirement plan, such as an IRA or an individual account in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, or a trust, so long as you are the beneficial owner. The credit ($250 on this cruise) is deducted from the charges to your shipboard account. Here, I should include the usual disclaimers that telling you about the benefit is not a solicitation to invest in the company's stock, that such an investment may or may not be appropriate for your personal financial circumstances, and that you should consult your broker or other personal financial advisor for financial advice appropriate to your situation.