by mark and susan
December 3, 2008
The December 3, 2008 sailing to Key West and Cozumel was our first cruise ever. We really had few expectations, and unfortunately few were met in return! It started out great with a nice balcony room, bigger than I had anticipated, and well laid out. The buffet lunch was not very good, so I was hoping dinner would be better and it was. A chilly departure was a little late, but I figured that was normal.
We arrived in Key West on time and were surprised at how haphazard the docking procedure was, just a bunch of locals who showed up in street clothes with the guy in charge yelling at Infinity's crew "not to worry." We also had to dock at the Navy base, as another cruise ship was docked at the base of the downtown area of Key West (causing us to shuttle it into town instead of walk). No big deal.
Having previously lived in Florida, Key West was really not the destination we were looking for, but it was on the way to Cozumel! My husband and I had fun finding the restaurant we got engaged in.
The disappointment started when the captain announced technical difficulties with the navigation system causing a delay while someone came to fix it. We ended up leaving 24 hours later with Cozumel being canceled and Nassau, Bahamas being added. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. I was crushed, but insistent on making the best of it.
It became apparent, as I've seen from other reviews, that the crew did not have their act together. We ran into our waiter from the SS United States (specialty restaurant, which was spectacular and well worth the extra $30 per person) and he said they had 300 new crew and the ship was "not the same since it came out of dry dock" (just previous to our cruise), making staff morale and service poor. It was obvious there were water problems on board as well.
Trying to be brief, we found too many things unacceptable for a cruise ship of this nature: NO coffee, yes, NO coffee two mornings in a row! (we were told because of water pressure issues.) People were walking around the buffet complaining and quite ticked off about this. Both nights we went to the martini bar they ran out of the glasses for the martini sampler. When I gave my $10 martini back to the bartender because it tasted like fruit punch, he looked at me and walked away, not even offering to try to make me a new one.
Every time I got eggs they were stone cold, including room service and the buffet. We found the buffet food to be poor, but loved the Aqua Spa Cafe. We heard some complain it that it was too bland, but we found it fresh, tasty and healthy for breakfast and lunch. We also found about 25 old beach towels and empty glasses on the top deck outdoor lounge area at 8am, obviously leftover from the day before. The ship was not kept very clean at all. I found it incredibly frustrating that by the end of day 2 the Purell hand sanitizer stations were very frequently empty and it seemed I had to use 3 dispensers in the bathroom before I found one with soap. Asked for early seating, got late; asked for table for 2, got 8. I could go on more, but will stop, you get the picture.
After they canceled Cozumel, morale among the passengers started to get bad, but everyone commented that it was not just because of the redirection of the cruise, but the poor service on the ship. The guest services area was rampant with complaining passengers. I heard the phrase "this in my 10th cruise and it's the worst!" on more than one occasion. Someone in the elevator said "this boat sucks".
When I got in the water, in the Bahamas, for a much anticipated snorkel (which was supposed to be in warm Cozumel) the frigid temperature took my breath away and caused me to curse one more time at Celebrity cruise lines. The roughly 8 year old kid in front of us almost had a panic attack it was so cold. We arrived back from our excursion to find our air conditioning broken and our room at around 80 some degrees.
Things were bad until the very end -- it was extremely unorganized trying to get off the boat. Our designated exit area by the theater was jammed with people (mostly older and some on the frail side) and the doors were still not open an hour into the scheduled time to get off. We found another area that was open and they allowed us off, luckily our luggage was in hand.
No, it was not a very good introduction to cruising and the $120 refund (our designated amount with an outside stateroom, some got more, some less) was less than acceptable as a consolation prize. Never will I cruise Celebrity again, or recommend it to a friend.