Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

Infinity
by Dan Tobey
Alaska
August 30, 2002

Review:
I am planning to write this review more about the Infinity and Celebrity cruises than the Alaskan Itinerary. Alaska's cruise season starts in May and ends in Sept. The weather is normally rainy, cold and over cast. We had sun and warm days on this trip but don't ever plan on that in Alaska. Me first cruise there 14 years ago in July was cold, rainy and overcast for 9 out of 10 days. This was my 27 cruise and number 12 for my partner and I together.

Booking:
We booked our Premium outside, balcony cabin through a cruise wholesaler we found on CruiseMates. We paid a give away price of only $949.00 PP plus fees. We booked our own air from Philadelphia to Vancouver via Denver on United. The cost of $550.00 PP was an over $300.00 PP savings over Celebrity's air option.

Getting there:
Our day of sailing flights left on time and we arrived in Vancouver ahead of schedule. The walk form the gate to the customs area is a long one. As we turned the corner to the customs area we was the lines. Twelve or so very long lines with lots of Asian families with children. It took well over an hour to make it to the head of the line as most of people in front of us did not speak English and only half the Custom gates were open. The long process was the only down side of the trip. Once we got to the Customs agent we were through in a flash. We found our waiting bags and headed for the exit. We pasted the line for the Celebrity bus but at $15 PP each way we took a taxi. They take credit cards so no need for Canadian money, just make sure you tell your driver that is how you are going to pay. The trip to the pier at Canada Place cost $30.00 Canadian with tip - about $21.00 US. The half hour drive from the airport to the pier gave us a chance to see some of Vancouver's beautiful Architecture. Our driver even stopped at a liquor store so we could buy some provision for cocktails in our cabin. Our bags were taken curbside at Canada Place not to been again until they reached our cabin. We were directed through security and into the terminal, this was a snap, no lines. Once inside the main terminal a women told us to take a seat with hundreds of other passenger and wait for our name to be called. When I told her we were past passengers and Captain Club members she walked us over to the next available agent and we were checked in and on the ship in less than 15 minutes from the time we left the taxi. I almost didn't join The Captain's Club, which cost $35 for two, once you have sailed with Celebrity.
The Club offers many other benefits besides the express check in. There are free wine tasting, spa discount, cocktail parties, discount future cruise coupons, etc. Celebrity, like many other newer cruise ships has on plastic card that is you identification, room key and charge card all in one. You can put away your wallet on board. Not only were we on board quickly but so was our baggage.

The ship:
WOW, where do I start? The Infinity in the second of Celebrity's Millennium class vessels. Her sisters are Millennium, Summit and Constellation. Their dark blue, white and yellow exterior colors along with the big X high above their eleven passenger decks sets them apart from most new builds of the other cruise lines. At 91,000 tons is one of the largest ships cruising Alaska. One never feels crowded on her and it is hard to believe that there are 1950 other people on board. We stepped on board we here lead to our cabin by one of the ever smiling staff, via a glass enclosed elevator over looking the sea. We marveled at the use of all the fine woods, marble, glass, brass, custom carpets, etc. Even after a year an a half she looked brand new and was spotlessly clean.

Cabins:
Our cabin #8061 mid-ship on Panorama Deck, better know as deck eight (all the elevators have a voice announcing the deck number not name). Our Cat. 1B, 194 sq. foot plus balcony cabin was well appointed. Use of fine light woods, walls of mirror, soft colored fabrics gave the room a look of an elegant resort room on land. Queen size bed (convertible to twins), nightstands, built-in desk with drawers and storage cabins, large closes with lots of hangers and drawer space, safe, mini bar, hooks, sofabed, lounge chair, cocktail table all added up to a very nice cabin. The bathroom was compact but well laid out. Our private balcony had two chairs and a small table and the sliding doors were easy to open and provided a great view. Except for the fact that it was smaller with no butler service it was a pretty as our penthouse suite on the QE2. The use of material as throughout the ship was the finest. If you like the idea of butler service and larger suites there are many to choose from. The top priced suites a the largest I have ever seen on a ship. The Cat. 2 cabins are slightly smaller than our but equally as nice. Even the smaller standard outside and inside cabins were larger than on other ship. If I was cruising on the cheap, cheap, I would have booked one of the lower priced inside for $599.00 PP plus fees for out cruise. Our cabin would not have been too good with extra persons, as the sofsbed when open would not allow any room to move around. Our cabin attendant keep things in perfect order. He brought our morning coffee on time and even provided refills on request.

Public rooms:
All the public room are beautiful starting with The Grand Foyer, a three-deck Atrium. It's highlight is an onyx staircase between decks three and four. The main business area on deck three includes the Shore Excursion office, bank, and guest relations. The cinema, used for talks and first ruin movies is also on this level. The seat used in the cinema are the MOST uncomfortable of any ship I have sailed on. They don't tilt and there is no knee room. Everyone complained. I does not make sense when everything els about the Infinity is so perfect. The Constellation lounge on deck eleven, is comfortable and contemporary with fantastic views on three sides. It gets lots of use both day and night. The Celebrity Theater spans three decks, seating 900, in grand style. There is a series of flaming torches behind glass that, on closer look, are actually fabric lit by under-lights. Up on deck four you'll find Fortunes, an Ancient Egyptian Style Casino, is not your typical flashy gambling hall but rather a stylish large venue for those who like the games of chance. Just outside the Casino and next to the photo gallery is Michael's Club, an evening only spot for drinks and a good cigar. This is a lovely under used room, too bad more men don't still smoke cigars. The Emporium, the ship's huge shopping mall is beautiful. Lots of high end stores with designer names and prices to match. Deck five contains the Rendezvous Lounge, the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar. These rooms are all beautifully designed and furnished with rich woods, marble, and comfortable chairs.

Food:
This ship is a foodie's delight. The Trellis Restaurant is the ship's main dining room. Breakfast lunch are served here open seating, while dinner is a typical main or late seating. This lovely two-tiered restaurant is a huge, and has aft facing windows that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables size ranges from two to ten with most being six's or eight's. Cuisine was excellent, with the menu featuring traditional, nouvel and vegetarian options for each of five courses. Service was friendly and perfect. Casual dining options included The Oceanview Grill and Cafe, the buffet restaurant on deck ten. The grill has omelet stations in the morning, that become pasta stations at lunch and serve pizza in the late afternoon. The is also an International station the changes every day, Italian, French, Asian, etc. There are even two ice cream counters. At dinner the Cafe becomes a semi-wait service area for casual dinners. Running along both port and starboard of buffet are raised and projecting table areas with full ocean views and floor set portholes that allow one to look down into the passing sea as you dine. Aft of the Cafe is an outdoor dining area with a bar and teak wood tables and chairs. The Oceanview Grill, poolside serves burgers, hot-dogs and fries. There is a weather protected area for eating in this area also. The AquaSpa health club forward of the main twin pool and whirlpool (4) area, has it's own buffet. Here for breakfast and lunch you'll find lighter, healthier fare. The AquaSpa's thalassotherapy pool which is domed over has two more whirlpool spa and a large area of teak lounge type chairs, running down one side and cabana like table and chair areas on the other. Both offer full ocean views will enjoying your lighter repast free on children under 18. Cova Cafe Milano offer free pastries at set times of the day but charges for coffee in various forms.
The SS United States, Infinity's alternative restaurant, is excellent. The cost is $25.00 for a four-course meals that include a cheese course and worth every penny. Only problem you have to choose between either salad, appetizer or soup. Not that you'll go hungry but most American's are use to having appetizer, soup or salad, which they serve in the main dinning room. The wine list has many outstanding vintages at hefty prices. You can order by the glass but some of these run $20.00 or more per glass. We did find nice bottles in the $30 -$40 range. This is like going to a 3 star restaurant on land, jacket and tie or even tuxes are the dress code, even when the rest of the ship is casual night. We went two nights and as Captain's Club member we reserved weeks in advance of sailing. DON'T miss this dinning experience. If this is not enough to eat the butler lite bites in the bars lounges around midnight and there is always room service which we did late one afternoon for huge chocolate chip cookies and tea.


Entertainment:
Celebrity's nightly Broadway style shows were great. Most passengers gave raves reviews. The only complaint here was that on some nights the show time for second seating was at 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM for early seating. We don't want to see the evening show before dinner when we would rather leisurely dress and meet friends for cocktail. There was music in Cova Cafe Milano nightly and the lounges had bands and trios for dancing. There was a late night DJ as well. First run movies where shown some nights, but only at 9:00 PM, right in the middle of our late seating dinner.

Passengers:
The age range was from 20's to 70's with the average in their 40's and 50's, much younger than my last Alaskan cruise. We saw lots of families with two and three generations. There were many large groups of Asians, Australians, and East Indians traveling together. There were some younger children but not many, we even saw a few very young infants. There two wedding that took place on board before we sailed. All in all it was a very nice mix of first time and veteran cruisers.

Fitness:
The AquaSpa on the Infinity has to be one of the best fitness facilities aboard ship. Forward on deck 10, this large area starts with the Thalassotherapy pool and twin whirlpools. The beauty salon and men's and women's changing rooms just forward. Only the men's has a steam room. There are many treatment rooms and lots of natural therapy treatments offered. All the forward is the gym which is well equipped and has a view over the bow of the ship from the treadmills. This are can get quite busy early in the mornings and late afternoon. There are sign up sheets on each treadmill.

The Itinerary:
Sailing out of Vancouver we cruised the inside passage on day our first full day at sea. The weather was party cloudy and chilly. Day two the docked in Juneau. Alaska's capital, for now anyway. This is a walkable town with all the same touristy stores you find in the Caribbean. We did not take any of the overpriced ships tours but walked around town in the morning. After lunch on the ship we took the $5 bus each way to Mendenhall Glacier. Weather went from sunny to cloudy to rain, that is Alaska for you. Next stop was Skagway, a small town that can be walked in an hour. That afternoon we took the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to the Summit at Fraser, BC. The scenic 3 1/2 hour, round trip, train ride was $82 with tickets purchased at the train station, cheaper than if bought on board the Infinity. Weather from sunny and warm. The highlight of any Alaskan cruise is a trip into a glacier bay. On day four the sun shined brightly as we sailed into Hubbard Glacier. We spent the late morning and early afternoon enjoying the activity of the caving glacier. Next stop Ketchikan, small fish town that is the salmon capital of the world. The ship dropped anchor and we tendered in the morning but the Infinity docked in the afternoon after two other ships sailed. The main shopping area next to the docks has the same tourist traps as the other ports visited. The ship offered lots of tour but you can do much better booking on line prior to sailing or from the many tour offices that line the streets as you get of the ship in all the ports. We opted not to take a tour and just walk around on our own watching as the town folk went wild on the this warm and sunny day. We was youngster shirtless riding their skateboards down the streets and shop keepers just sitting outside their shops soaking up the sun. The town was quite empty in the afternoon after the other two ship sailed and many of the Infinity's passengers went on tour. Our last day was spent cruising back to Vancouver via the Inside Passage. We enjoyed the sunny day on deck viewing pods of Orca, killer whales and the local wildlife. Day seven we cruised back into sunny Vancouver docking about 8:00 AM. We where given tags for our luggage the night before based on number and colors. The Captain's Club Members and those with early flights got off first. This was the fast and most orderly disembarkation ever. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM at the airport for our 10:55 AM back to Philadelphia by 9:00 AM.

Overall:
Both my partner and I enjoyed this Alaskan cruise very much. If you have never been there I think you will like it. It is not your typical warm weather cruise. Celebrity is one of the best cruise lines out there and the Infinity is right up there with the best large ship sailing today. We did like the fact the Celebrity has a dress code of two formal nights (tux or dark suit), two semiformal (jackets and tie) and three casual evenings (shirt and sacks). Most passengers followed these codes and saved the jeans and shorts for daytime wear. We can't wait to return to one of these Millennium class vessels soon. From what we were told by several staff members Celebrity rotates much of the staff between the four ships. I think you will enjoy any of these beautiful sisters and like Celebrity as much as we do. We are just hoping the our next cruise over New Year on NCL's brand new Norwegian Dawn is a good.