by Robert Holloway
August 10, 2001
My wife and I took our first cruise on Celebrity's Infinity to Alaska Inland Passage for August 10-17, 2001.
We live on Vancouver Island BC Canada, so on Friday morning we went to the bus terminal and took the daily Cruise Bus to Vancouver which leaves at 10 am and arrives about 2pm at the dock. Its about $63 return CDN for each of us.
The bus leaves and goes on a ferry which then takes us direct, best part was our bus driver after dropping us at terminal then drives bus to baggage area and off loads for us. I gave him a tip for that !
Going on board was done within 30 minutes as we had our papers all filled out and used our cc as ship charges. Vancouver Port has many folks directing you, as you proceed they take a photo , then your papers are checked, onboard charge card is given and you proceed to gangway. As you enter the ship, your picture is taken with your card inserted, a line up of stewards is waiting and one then takes you to your cabin. They show you around and warn you about lifeboat drill which in our case was to be at 5pm and its now around 3pm.
It's our first cruise, so we examine the cabin, find the safe and agree on a combination which is six digits and leading zeros do not cut it. We decide to eat, so to the Ocean Grill which is deck 10 and we are on Sky deck 10 cabin 9126.
Back to cabin and because we did not read all of the ship news, miss out out on tours behind the scenes. Life Boat drill is at 5pm and we had already checked out where Muster Station D is , on Deck four at Rendezvous Lounge. Drill is in three languages then on to actual Lifeboat section which is still occurring as ship departs at 545pm, only 15 minutes before supper.
We had first seating and they close doors 15 minutes later, next time around we will go second seating as we are late breakfast folks. Our recommendation is they make main restaurant meals as open seating for breakfast and lunch which means you have two hours to arrive and maintain supper as fixed.
The meals were excellent and the service was excellent in the Trellis restaurant. In our case we used the wine steward frequently and she (Ivana) was very helpful and knowledgeable about French, European and American wines as we are used to BC and Australian wines and European. The wine can be opened and used the next night so we averaged about five bottles and spent around $30-$40 a bottle. Everything is in US $ The menus themselves are extensive, at least five services per menu (appetizer, soup, salads, main course, desert) including breakfast and lunch. At times we were given a sorbet to quench ones appetite.
If you wish , you can use the Ocean Grill which is open most of the time for full menus but it is serve yourself though they have folks to carry your trays if you ask or it looks like you need help and once they picked up my wife's tray right away. Finding a table was not an issue though the lines might be long depending on time you came.
One of the problems we found was charging you for a seven-up on the pool deck or $6.50 for a Hot Chocolate with a mug on the Glacier day, we ignored that offer.
Coffee and tea and juice from a machine were always available from the Ocean Grill and if you ordered prior to 4am you could have breakfast in bed or ordered room service anytime .
The cabin was great for us as we also had a deck to sit on and it had a sofa bed aside from the bed itself. We were able to hang all our clothes (two suitcases) up and store our shirts / blouses / socks. Suit case's went under the bed and we still had storage space in the desk provided. The bathroom was small but easy to move in and every time we left after using it, we came back to clean towels ! The safe worked great and second day out we blew the combination attempts , called up cabin steward and within five minutes , our head housekeeper came with a palm pilot type unit and reset the safe for us.
We ignored most of the excursions but night prior to Skagway docking , we ordered tickets for the "Skagway Yellow Streetcar" at around midnight on the TV In-house Channel and woke up to tickets on our door. That's service...
We mainly walked the decks or read and never had a problem finding a lounge chair. Great part is they supply real woolen blankets and someone is around to take orders for grill food or drinks.
Shopping onboard runs from some affordable to who can buy this stuff. Overall if you wait for the specials then it makes sense in terms if you really needed a new watch or pearls or souvenirs or diamonds.
Entertainment was fine especially if you realize you are having in seven nights what you might do over two years and together as a couple. in our case I'd sit listening to a tenor and then my wife would sit with me , listening to a harpist in the Cova cafe.
A neat thing was the Internet area, though expensive at $0.95 a minute, one does not need to have an internet account to SEND an email, only know the E-Mail ID to send to and of course be a fast typist. I was impressed as all I did was select email only SEND option.. A good feature.
My travel agent sent us a bottle but I also ordered a surprise for my wife which she took care of and it arrived.
Wonderful quiet areas on the ship to relax in, WORDS library, Games area, and on deck three , the starboard side, about three tables to view and relax, away from crowds. On deck 12 , on bow section , great area outdoor to see ship move with lounge chairs. A wonderful recital group playing music at supper and scheduled times.
I could go on, our embarkation was done within 30 minutes , the Celebrity crew are well organized, at least for Vancouver Port.
I rate our experience as a five star and the Infinity is a class ship.
Oh, yes, In Skagway the Captain exercised a life boat drill for the crew with all life boats in the water and a man overboard drill. In Ketchican , thye ran tenders every 15 minutes from 9am to 3pm when they than docked till 8pm