Four years after last cruising on Celebrity Infinity we returned for a 15 night Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise. Clearly the entertainments management has changed in that time as loud music is now played at all times in all public rooms and on all outer decks throughout the ship. This becomes very tiresome when the only place that is quiet is the cabin. That cabin, (2153), was comfortable and very acceptable and we were well looked after by our helpful steward Denny. We had been given a Standard drinks package but this had been upgraded to a Classic package . We were thus able to enjoy specialty coffees in Cafe al Bacio, a very civilised spot but for the aforementioned music!
The MDR Trellis Restaurant is an absolute nightmare of high octane chaos. Celebrity describe it as a ‘place of intimacy and personal connections’ ~ which is just laughable. We had Select Dining and on advice pre-booked each night and thank goodness we did. However most tables for two are placed towards the aisles where waiters, assistant waiters, sommeliers, waiters with headpieces making up tables (and shouting messages back to the restaurant reception) and head waiters also with headpieces are literally dashing about. The latter helped us to be placed and to be served on a number of occasions such was the mayhem. The food from the very limited menu was however good. Obviously Celebrity, by providing only limited choice in the MDR, are pushing you towards paying for more choice in the speciality restaurants. Thus we ate several times in the Ocean View buffet where the selections can be OK but the food is always cool and served on cold plates.
The ports of call were not outstanding but of interest and we took a ship’s excursion in each. Cabo San Lucas was a tender port and this was very poorly operated by the ship. The tender service for independent passengers ran flawlessly from one pontoon whilst those on a tour waited and waited to be taken from another pontoon. So much for ship’s excursion passengers having priority! Sadly it was very wet when we took the canopy aerial tram ride from the Costa Rican port of Puntarenas so saw little wildlife.
The main reason we took this cruise was the transit of the Panama Canal and in this we were not disappointed. An outstanding lecturer gave an all day commentary and this was very good.
Disembarking in Fort Lauderdale was a laborious affair with only two Immigration counters open for foreign nationals to be finger printed (both hands and thumbs) photographed, a 90 minute line with suitcases.
It should be noted that Celebrity block book seats on flights from the UK. This prevents early check-in though you can contact their Flight Team to request seats for the outbound flight, four days before departure. For the return flight though, you are on your own as we found out at check-in! Fortunately the pleasant BA crew sat us together as soon as we mentioned it on entering the aircraft. (What has happened to the food offering on BA long haul flights? Very poor.)
So verdict on Celebrity? I would say never again, but we are already booked on a Jet Sail out of Stansted on Celebrity Constellation in four weeks. Hopefully there will be fewer of our noisy and often rude friends from across the pond on board.