by Cher Satterfield
March 3, 2001
We left for the Infinity on Friday the 2nd, with a stay overnight at the Sheraton Suites in Plantation Fl. The suites were very nice, but we were very tired and didn't get to utilize the fact that it was attached to a mall, (darn).
The next morning a representative from Celebrity came to get us ready to board a bus for the ship (Ronnie Zapata), she was a delightful person, and we tried not to give her too much grief as the bus was supposed to arrive at 10 and got there at 12, but off we went.
It was a short ride and we were all in great anticipation and well worth it too, the first sight of the ship was oh my gosh-huge! The boarding went very quickly and had no problems.
Our friends flight was late that first day, and they arrived a half hour before we sailed, but after that panic, everything calmed down and we were on our way.
The ship is quite spectacular, and the decor is very understated, nothing too extreme, very elegant in style (not crazy about their art however) I like scenery and most of their art is abstract.
We were upgraded to an outside balcony, and for all time we will never be the same, and can never again stay in an inside cabin. We slept with the sliding door open at night and the sound of the waves and the wind lulled us to sleep every night. When we weren't out and about, we were on the balcony, just enjoying the view, or just relaxing after a busy day. It was wonderful. Our cabin steward, Flavio seemed to second guess our every mood, and was always there to service our cabin, and would even pick up purchases for us when we bought something on the way to a show, they would hold it and he would pick it up for us. His assistant, Bagus was very sweet, and was also always there to help.
We were able to purchase liquor in the onboard store and took it to our cabin (never was a question, just bought it and took it to our cabin), in the afternoons we would get a couple of carafe's of either orange juice, or tomato juice, and make our own drinks, which saved a bundle on drinks. Honest, we aren't alcoholics, we would have a few people over for drinks before dinner. The cabins are spacious, with a couch and chair, plus the 2 chairs from the balcony. So every afternoon, Flavio would show up with the carafe's, sometimes without us even calling him. Talk about service.
The Trellis Restaurant is the main dining room and is situated on the 4th and 5th decks in the stern of the ship. Our table was 520 on the 5th deck (go figure) and we were right near the railing were we could look down on the diners on the 4th deck. The restaurant is quite pretty with it's flowing staircase down the center, and the dark wood and decorations make it a wonderful place to eat and visit with new friends.
Our table mates were all about the same age group. Our friends Ray and Lynn from Ca. and our new friends Dan, Jackie, Joe and Patti from Wisconsin. We all hit it off the first night and had a blast for the next 2 weeks together. Our waiter was Dominguez, from Portugal who seemed to be too rushed and not always in a good mood, but was efficient with service. Our asst. waiter was Preston from Goah, India was a sweetheart, seemed a little nervous the first couple of days, but was so very pleasant and had the most wonderful smile, and we had fun with him.
The food was ok, but I honestly didn't find it to be GREAT, I know this is subjective, so please don't find fault with my opinion, as it is just that-an opinion. I can't say I didn't eat it, as the meats were quite good, and the vegetables were fine, but the potatoes, and desserts left something to be desired (for me). This must tell you something as I just weighed myself and didn't gain any weight (but didn't lose either)-ha! But must say, the breadsticks are to die for. You can dine in the Oceanview Cafe in the evenings (with a reservation), but this, the Trellis and SS United States are the only dining in the evening hours.
Most of our breakfasts and lunches were in the Oceanview Cafe on the 10th deck. The buffet runs on each side of the ship in this area so there was never a long wait. However, not advertised, but in the back of the Oceanview there were special things such as pasta's, ribs, chicken, knockwurst etc. etc. so be sure to see what is there before going through the regular line. They also serve omelets there in the morning. Out on deck 10 by the pool (Breezes Pool Grill) are hot dogs (great ones) and hamburgers with the best fries (from noon-2:30) with pizza served there from 3-7 daily.
One evening we went to the SS United States Dining room (The Specialty Dining) the service was impeccable, and as another reviewer said, our waiter was Oswald from India, who was delightful. It is an experience with the service being something with everyone at the table getting served at exactly the same time, (synchronized serving) There are at least 2-3 people waiting on your every move. The food was quite good, and there was plenty of it, however going from $12.00 per person (on the Millie) to $25.00 per person was quite a jump, and by the looks of it, it was not a good move. The Restaurant was mostly empty every night. There were only 5 other tables of people the night we dined, and it seats 88. So I am not so sure that the price change hasn't hurt this venue, but it was a nice evening (about 3 hours worth of dining).
The pool area on deck 10 is very pretty, with 4 whirlpools surrounding the pool. A nice stage is set up for the band, or games played in this area. The band Onyx was onboard, and they are so versatile, they seem to be able to play anything from Raggae to Country, and with wonderful voices.
Sorry to say I never made it to the Thalassotherapy pool, I heard it was quite wonderful (next time), and there is another grill forward, in the aqua spa that serves light and healthy food for breakfast and lunch. Didn't try this dining area, so can't report much about it. It had a lovely setting though, with lots of trees, and plants everywhere.
One of the things I liked onboard was the use of trees, plants shrubs, flowers-they were all beautiful. The Conservatory on Deck 11 mid ship is the pretties area on the ship. It is quite small, but you will not believe the flowers and shrubs there, and it makes for a great place to take pictures on a formal night, so take your cameras.
The glass elevators are a nice touch mid ship, the view from the 11th and 12th deck can be spectacular.
The Constellation Club is where they have the disco in the evening, and during the day there were dance lessons, and bingo, but usually it is empty, which seems a waste of such a pretty room. The Casino-Fortunes (named for what most people leave there) has an Egyptian theme, and is beautiful. The staff there is very friendly.
Our CD was Jim Cannon, and he is an absolute, consummate entertainer. He seems to genuinely love people, both young and old, and is very approachable and great to talk to, I think the best I have seen in years. He knew of Cruisemates, and says he gets on and reads the boards quite often, so if you read this Jim-Thanks for a great time. The cruise staff of Dru, Todd, Tommy, Stacey, Chamaine and Mikaela are great fun, get to know them.
The shows onboard ranged from comedy to Broadway Productions-
1. Michael James was a comedian/unicyclist/juggler-very funny
Our ports of call were:
1. Key West-lovely town with a party atmosphere, enjoyed the day walking around town. No excursion, you can walk most anywhere you wanted to see.
2. Cozumel-took a cab into the downtown area (about $8.00 for 4 of us). Found a wonderful restaurant off the water, behind the Hard Rock. There is a street right down from there called Juan Miguel Batista (by Palmeras Restaurant) go down street, more of a walkway past the park, and on the corner of the park there is a place that looks like a log cabin with a porch running around it-the place is called Such Is Life. We had the best shrimp tacos there, and the owner Moises and his son Sean were wonderful, we talked to them for a good couple of hours. The son Sean speaks perfect English (raised in the Az.) but wanted to come back to his birthplace, had only been back a month. The restaurant had only been open 9 days. We wish them well, the food was great, the ambiance was special.
3.Cartegena, Columbia-glad we didn't take a shore excursion, met up with others from the ship and rented a 8 passenger van for the day, our guide was Antonio (ask on the dock for him he is called the ship agent there, small gray haired man, not much English though, so it helps to go with someone who can translate-the van was air conditioned-a plus). He charged us $15.00 per person and took us everywhere the other tours were going. Cartegena is a very poor area, and it was depressing in some areas, although we did see a pretty street in Old Town.
4. Panama Canal transit-was fascinating, I never realized the importance of the canal, or the grief that was shared there by the thousands of families who had someone die building it. It was a great trip, and spent hours out on deck watching how the locks work. Everyone should do this trip once in their life.
5. Punteranas, Costa Rica-took an excursion to San Jose ($96.00) was a very long day, but got to see a lot, wish we had done the river rafting or the cloud forest instead. Our friends did the same route through a van on the dock, same trip-$30.00 each, The town of Sarchi where they make the ox carts was interesting. Our guide Daniel was very nice, spoke perfect English, and made the long day interesting. San Jose is a fairly modern city, and much prettier that Cartegena, and didn't have the problem with beggars there.
6. Acapulco-We found a van and driver there for $20.00 per person (8 of us) and we went everywhere the ships tour went. The divers (a must in Acapulco), the Princess Hotel (just wonder around the grounds for about 30 minutes-it is so beautiful, The Hard Rock Cafe for buying souvenirs, tour of the city, and our guide Josue Castaneda A. spoke perfect English, and was a great guide-took us to his favorite restaurant for lunch-Carnitas de Esperanza-we ordered a kilo of carnitas and they kept the tortillas, salsa, and guacamole coming-what a treat (and no Montezuma's revenge either) we were even given a free margarita from the owner. I felt I really got a taste (literally and figuratively) from having a more personable tour from one of the locals. It was perfectly safe, and it was very interesting. Don't be afraid to venture out in some of these ports, I think it can be more beneficial (although I am sure there is some risk involved in not taking a ship approved vendor, it is much cheaper, and usually just as informative) Josue can be reached at Josue Castaneda A. Calle Uno #40 Mozimba Acapulco, Gro. Mexico
7. Cabo San Lucas-took a van into town, went to Hard Rock, Giggling Marlin, Cabo Wabo Cantina and then to the Shrimp Factory for lunch-fabulous, had a great time, food was wonderful and half the ship was there. You can walk anywhere downtown from the ship, felt safe, and not hassled.
Our weather was absolutely perfect, only one humid day going through the canal, otherwise we couldn't have asked for better. March seems to be the best time for this type of cruise.
Our sea days were fun, but some activities overlapped with some times with nothing to do, the trivia was fun (we won the valuable business card holders). Bingo was reasonable one for $10.00 the 3 pack for $20.00 or the value 2-3 packs for $30.00 (one 3 pack for my husband and one for me) but the final night for blackout the 3 pack was $25.00 for one game-ouch!
Needless to say didn't win the big one ($5944.00) but 2 people were very happy.
Theme nights were Tex-Mex, 50's-60's and Island night. The Tex-Mex and Island nights had parties out by the pool with great food and dancing to the tunes of Onyx.
Would I do it again? Of coarse, a cruise is what you make of it, and we had a blast.
Thanks to all of those that we met on the boards here, and to the ones that we met onboard-Chris and Debbie Bell, and Nick and Dawn from St. Ives, England (what a kick, hope we can do it again someday) Donna Watts and the much elusive Eric (long story)-Ha! from New York, Dan, Jackie, Joe and Patti, Sandra and Tom, Harry and Karen from Canada, Rich and Rose Lara, Delores, Don, Eleanor, Dick, Marlene from near our home, and Ray and Lynn Henderson, one of our best friends and cruising buddies, and my wonderful husband and the best person to travel with, Mark-It was a blast-Thanks for the memories!