by Roy Walker
March 9, 2002
Our Celebrity Infinity cruise of the Southern Caribbean began from Baltimore on 3/9/02. I am 52 and my wife is 50. This was my second cruise and my wife's fourth cruise. My first cruise was on Celebrity Century. Overall we had a simply wonderful time and a fabulous cruise. Before going on our cruise, I read every review on Infinity, Millennium and Summit that I could find. Perhaps this review will help someone who is as anxious about his or her cruise as I was.
Travel to San Juan:
Saturday 3/9 was a travel day for us. We flew from BWI in Baltimore to Atlanta and then on to San Juan. We had a 7am flight out of BWI. We arrived 2½ hours prior to our flight. At 4:30am the line for Delta Airlines was down the hall, around the corner and down another hall. A total of perhaps 100 yards, the line snaked through the airport. We moved 6 inches at a time for 2 ¼ hours until we finally got on the plane. Then we sat on the tarmac another hour before departing for Atlanta at 8am.
When we arrived at San Juan at 4pm, we waited for about an hour trying to locate our luggage. What we didn't know at the time was that our luggage did not make the flight. We later found out that BWI had a broken scanner conveyer belt early in the morning that held up loading the luggage for our flight. We were so distraught. Our luggage finally arrived at 10:30pm just prior to the ship leaving the port of San Juan. What a relief!
Embarkation: Being Captains Club members and without luggage, we strolled on the ship within 15 minutes. We immediately went to Guest Relations on the ship to make them aware of our missing luggage. The Celebrity people at Guest Relations were extremely helpful and reassuring.
The Ship: My first impression of the ship is that she is impressively large, very spacious, well appointed, new and clean. Infinity is a beautiful ship. She is not overly extravagant, but classy. I had read in several reviews where Celebrity's Millennium class ships had a vibration from the engine. The ship does vibrate very slightly when the fore and aft side jets are used to move the ship away from the dock. That was the only time I ever heard any engine noise. When this happens, if there are plates stacked up in the restaurant or crystal glasses touching each other, you will hear them rattle because of the vibration. This typically lasts for about a minute or less, just long enough to get the ship to move sideways from the dock. It amounts to nothing.
Pool - I immensely enjoyed lounging around the pool, as there are lots of reclining lounge chairs surrounding the pool. Many more are around the outside of the AquaSpa and down both sides of decks 10 and 11. Clean and often warm towels are available all around the pool. There is plenty of room for sunning and there are also many chairs in the shade for those who want to stay out of the sun. On the one day at sea, many people would lay a towel on a chair to reserve it and walk away for hours. This did lead to a chair shortage.
The Thallosotherapy pool is sooooooo relaxing. It can get a little crowded, especially the hot tubs. No children allowed in these hot tubs. There are lots of recliner chairs all around the pool for catching a few zzzzz's.
Pizza bar: Great pizza was available most if not every afternoon. Several different kinds of pizza were all very good with good and spicy pepperoni.
The Mast Bar, which is right by the pool, made some great Daquiris and Pina Coladas. The waiters and waitresses who work by the pool are very cordial and helpful. It is so nice to have someone making sure our glasses were not empty very long. On a long hot day at the pool I really appreciated being pampered and treated like royalty. Everyone should be treated like royalty at least once in their life and Celebrity does it for the full week.
Celebrity Theater: This is a beautiful and comfortable theater. If you have late seating for dinner, sometimes you will attend the late show at Celebrity Theater and sometimes you will attend the early showing. The Celebrity entertainment is improving from year to year. I'd say they're almost as good as the shows I have seen on Broadway. There were 3 production numbers with lots of choreographed dancing and singing. All 3 shows were very entertaining. The singers have great voices. One night there was a magician who was both funny and had a good magic act. On another night we had a comedian who was very funny without saying one 4-letter word. The theater has excellent lighting and sound systems. I enjoyed each show with a very smooth Glen Livet.
Trellis Restaurant: We had the late seating for dinner. If you want the late seating, book your cruise early and make sure you specifically ask for the late seating. Many people were trying to move from early seating to late, but were unable to do so as the late seating was completely booked. The Trellis restaurant is very elegant. The food on Infinity is wonderful. The cold soups were delicious. I ordered a lot of entres that I ordinarily wouldn't eat at home. The rack of lamb was done very well. The frog legs taste a little "gamier " than I expected, something like chicken but with a bit more tang to them. The Lobster was delicious. Only once did I get a meal that wasn't up to Celebrity standards as the rack of veal was a little tough. The deserts were very tasty especially the Creme Brulee which was excellent. The coffee was rich and dark. Celebrity's food, service and presentation are superb.
SS United States is the specialty restaurant. The waiter service is absolutely superb. They make you feel very special. Not being one to have five-star food service during the normal course of my life, I was very impressed with the service. I ordered the Goat Cheese souffle which was excellent, the rack of lamb - equally well done and the chocolate souffle In addition, there is a cheese serving that is nice with a variety of mild and sharp cheeses. The wines can be ordered by the glass or bottle. They have some very expensive bottles and glasses of wine, but with the sommelier's assistance we managed to order a moderately priced but still excellent wine. The wine, food, and service along with the light piano music provide a splendid ambiance. It's all very romantic. The whole experience is well worth the additional cost.
We ate at the Oceanview Cafe for breakfast and sometimes for lunch. There are 3-4 different choices of main dishes each day. For Breakfast, from the main cafeteria line, you can get scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, home fries, French toast, fruit, melons, cereals, muffins, bagels and most other "usual breakfast foods." All were very well prepared and hot. If you want an omelet or eggs prepared to order, you need to go a little further aft on the starboard side to another serving area. It's well worth the extra 1-2 minute wait. If you sit near to the windows in the Oceanview Cafe there is a nice round window in the floor that allows you to see the water streaming by the ship. It's an interesting view. Celebrity waiters will carry every lady's tray to the table for them. A nice touch.
The Rendezvous lounge was a nice place to sit, enjoy the music and relax before dinner. It's conveniently located aft just outside of the Trellis Restaurant. It made a good place to meet before dinner. They had two entertainers in the lounge. One was playing a guitar and the other a keyboard. They were singing old favorites, which made for a nice variety of dancing music. We also attended a wine tasting in the Rendezvous Lounge, which was interesting.
The Martini Bar: You've got to try the Martini Bar! It's funny, my wife and I hardly ever drink at home, but when we cruise it's fun to have at least one or two every night. On the last night of the cruise we tried the Martini Bar. Never having had one, we asked for something light. They have an entire menu with perhaps 15-20 different flavors and strengths of Martinis. The waiter recommended a French Martini for my wife and I got the Citrus Martini. They tasted great, but in 10 minutes you can tell you are drinking lots of alcohol. Needless to say, we had an enjoyable evening.
Casino: It looked nice and flashy. We were only in the casino when we needed to walk from one end of the ship to the other.
Our room: Premium Ocean View w/ Balcony: This room was very nice with ample storage and nicely decorated. We took 3 large suitcases and 2 carry on bags. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. We never touched the room refrigerator. The queen bed was comfortable with good firmness. The TV channels were limited. It would have been nice to be able to watch the ACC tournament. Pay-per-view Movies are $8.99 with a fair selection. The bathroom was large enough so you didn't feel confined whenever you went in there. The shower stall had ample space so you won't hit elbows on the sides.
Security: When you initially board Infinity, they take your picture and associate it with your Celebrity Signature/Boarding card. This card is also your room card/key. Every time you leave the ship, you have to enter your card into a reader that keeps track of who is on/off the ship. When you return, you again enter your card and a picture of your face is displayed on the security officer's computer monitor. If it looks like you, you can board. If it looks like someone else, you're in big trouble. They also run all bags through a scanner similar to airport terminal carry-on scanners when you are boarding the ship.
Dress on Infinity: I estimate that at least 50 to 60% of the guys who ate the late seating wore Tuxedoes on formal nights. 49.9 to 39.9% of the guys wore dark suits. I didn't see too many people who ignored the recommended dress codes. I understand the early seating was a little more lax as there were more families with children at the early seating. Most of the ladies were dressed to kill...I love that! The first formal night was scheduled the day in St Croix and the second was scheduled for the day we were in Antigua.
Day 1: Our trip to San Juan was not very pleasant.
Day 2: St. Croix - I went on the Buck Island Snorkel. The water was warm and crystal clear. Buck Island had a nice variety of coral and lots of colorful fish. I actually saw a very large lobster. I think lobster are nocturnal animals. He must have been chasing a lady friend otherwise I would never have seen him during the day. My wife scheduled a manicure and pedicure while I was snorkeling. In the afternoon we walked around Christiansted. We didn't buy anything as we had the whole cruise ahead of us.
Day 3: St. Lucia - I scheduled a tour over the Internet with a super nice guy named Shal. Shal runs a small business called Jungle Tours. You can find Shal at www.jungletoursstlucia.com. Shal takes you on a 7-hour 4x4 tour of St. Lucia, which is nothing short of amazing. Seven hours is a little long, but you will see lots of breathtaking scenic views of St. Lucia, especially the Pitons, and the rain forest. It was very interesting to see the people who live in the rain forest, to go into their homes, to buy coconut chunks and oranges and bananas right from their homes. It was incredible. We saw more of St. Lucia than we did of any islands on any cruise we have ever been on. Shal does a great job. Yes, he will get you back to the ship in time. I asked him 20 times during our excursion. The Celebrity version of 4x4-wheel tour is 3 ½ hours. This may be perfect for seniors.
Day 4: Barbados - We went on the Atlantis Submarine excursion. The sub actually goes 150 feet down near an old small ship that rest on the bottom and then around some nice coral formations. It was an interesting excursion. In the afternoon we walked the mile or so into the town of Bridgetown. At first we didn't feel real comfortable as hundreds of taxi drivers practically assault you for not needing their services. How dare you to walk into our town. Once we got away from the taxi drivers and spoke to some of the town's people asking directions, we felt much better. The town people were very friendly and helpful.
Day 5: At Sea - A nice long relaxing day at the pool and AquaSpa.
Day 6: Antigua - We walked around St. Johns, but we essentially rested in Antigua. We shopped the shops Celebrity recommended, and basically stayed close to the ship. We bought a few gifts. The taxi drivers were everywhere asking you if you needed a taxi. Every 15 feet another taxi driver would ask if you needed a driver. The town is clean and the shops are quaint. Earlier in the week, we had scheduled massages for the two of us at the AquaSpa. It was sooooooo nice.
Day 7: St. Thomas - US Customs requires everyone on the ship to go through customs before entering St. Thomas. I though it was a good idea until the theory is put to practice. At 8am, EVERYONE meets in Celebrity Theatre. Everyone takes their passport or birth certificate and a picture identification such as a driver's license. Then you essentially walk past a nice old man who waves you by as you hold up your identification about 10 feet away from the guy. The next officer you see gives you a blue card that says you are a good guy and not a terrorist. GREAT security! Hey! US Customs, if you're going to go through all of that trouble, please make it effective.
St. Thomas is beautiful. We took a cab up into the hills and took lots of pictures of Megan's Bay and Charlotte Amalie. On an earlier cruise, we went to the beach at Megan's Bay. The water was so inviting. I think Megan's Bay is even more impressive when you see it from the top of the hills above Charlotte Amalie. The view is beautiful. After the taxi, we shopped until my wife had all the jewelry we could afford and then some.
Day 8: Disembarkation: Unfortunately we had to leave on Saturday morning. Disembarkation went like clockwork. Everyone is supposed to be out of the rooms by 8am. They recommend you go one of the public places. We were off the ship and had our luggage by 8:30am. The Celebrity Transfers back to San Juan Airport was again flawless. An air-conditioned bus, which was followed by a truck containing everyone's luggage that was on that bus, took us directly in front of the Delta terminal. When we walked inside and got in the Delta line, the whole airport lost electrical power. That's a whole different story. It was a long day of hurry up and wait, but a great day to reflect on a wonderful cruise.
Point of view: Celebrity does so many things so well. Other than people trying to switch from early to late seating, I didn't hear one person complain about anything all week. If you don't have an enjoyable time on this ship, it's most likely something beyond Celebrity's control. Even then, they will do their best to make it right. Just as we lost our luggage for the first day, Celebrity came through and got it on the ship before we left San Juan. I love these guys!