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Photo Review: Dec 24 2016 15 Night Infinity Cruise around South America


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Here are some shots that I took from our aft balcony after dinner.

 

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A view of the balconies at the back of the ship. It was pretty quiet back there.

 

 

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Taken at 8:21pm in the evening. Needless to say, we skipped the entertainment in the Celebrity Theater that evening...

 

 

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Taken at 9:47pm, I spotted this dolphin or small whale on the starboard side of the ship. Actually, I heard it first and then saw the blowhole spray. I was too busy yelling inside the cabin for my family to come out and see it that I didn't get a real good look at it.

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Shore Excursion: PA04 Magdalena Island Natural Penguin Reserve (thru Celebrity)

 

Celebrity Today

 

MDR Dinner Menu

MDR Dessert Menu

 

 

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6:06am. One of my most vivid memories of this cruise was the brilliant sunrise that greeted us on this port day. We had to get up pretty early in the morning to get ready for our tour. I chuckled as I thought to myself that some of the residents in Punta Arenas may consider this sunrise to be a glare nuisance as they drove to work today.

 

 

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A view of Punta Arenas. My iPhone got quite a work out on this cruise!

 

 

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7:12am As we rode the tender to shore, I looked back and saw this marvelous view. Unfortunately, the port got cloudier as the day went on.

 

 

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9:02pm. This is Mount Sarmiento (elevation 7,369 ft) with the cruise ship Stella Australis to the right. Beautifully lit by the setting sun, this mountain snuck up on us--at least for those of us at the back of the ship. Infinity ends up turning to the right of the mountain and we sailed past it and several glaciers.

 

 

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9:11pm. Stella Australis is a 210 passenger cruise ship and was heading to Punta Arenas.

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Dec 30 (Punta Arenas)

 

I signed up my family of 4 for the Magdalena Island Natural Penguin Reserve shore excursion. At $229 per person, I think Royal Caribbean stock rose on the day I booked the trip. Normally I like to book independent tours, but it did not work out that way on this cruise.

 

This trip is pretty much one long day. You get up early to catch the first tenders off the ship and then board a motorcoach to take you on a short ride to the ferry boat, mv Melinka. The ferry boat ride to Magdalena Island is 1.5-2 hrs long each way as the island is over 20 miles away. At least we got to see some whales on the way there. You are given a boxed lunch on board the ship. The bathroom facilities on the ferry were good.

 

The star attraction is the thousands of Magellanic Penguins that nest on Magdalena Island. We were on the island for a little over an hour. The island is a national monument and so there are park rangers located there to keep an eye on things.

 

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We saw a few whales on the way to the island but none coming back.

 

 

 

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The shore excursion ferry is that red boat on the left. The sleek boat on the right showed up after we arrived. I think it is run by Solo Expediciones.

 

 

 

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Yes, they are incredibly cute. You are not allowed to take them home.

 

 

 

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Yes, there were a lot of them.

 

 

 

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The nests are actually large holes in the ground. The same two parents come back to the same nest each year.

 

 

 

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You can walk up to the lighthouse and go inside. That is if you don't run out of time looking at all the penguins along the way! More importantly, there are bathrooms there.

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Great review! Thank you. Wow what s trip to remember! The earthquake would have me extremely nervous and missing the bag only to save the iPad later is a great story. Loved your decorations and pertinent pictures, especially of your great balcony. I suppose the cost of the penguin tour was worth it?

 

 

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I appreciate everyone's kind feedback.

 

I suppose the cost of the penguin tour was worth it?

 

The tour was definitely worth while and was one of the highlights of the cruise. I highly recommend it. But if I were to do it over again (knowing now what I didn't know then), I would look at booking it through an independent operator like Solo Expediciones because it is probably cheaper and the boat transportation is faster (you still spend one hour on the island).

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I appreciate everyone's kind feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tour was definitely worth while and was one of the highlights of the cruise. I highly recommend it. But if I were to do it over again (knowing now what I didn't know then), I would look at booking it through an independent operator like Solo Expediciones because it is probably cheaper and the boat transportation is faster (you still spend one hour on the island).

 

 

We have booked through Soloexpediceones. Sp?

The cost is $95. We meet at their office and leave from there. It isn't very far from where we dock. First a bus to the high speed boats. The total trip is 4 hours. Supposedly we spend 1/12 hours on the Island.

Enjoying your review.

 

Sue

 

 

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My family of 4 took this very nice cruise from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although this was our first trip to this continent, it was our second time aboard Infinity as we had sailed on her way back in 2002.

 

The cruise went very well without any incident. We did not miss any ports, the weather on the whole was pretty good, and we were lucky that the seas were fairly calm. The only negative things that occurred was the ship was battling a norovirus outbreak and the blackjack tables were rough with me!

 

The 4 of us stayed in FV 8166 which is at the back of the ship on the starboard side. This was the same cabin that we stayed in back in 2002 although the kids were only 7 and 10 years old!

 

I am going to post a few pictures from each day with a few of comments.

 

We had that cabin once on the Infinity ... all I can say about it is: MAJOR SCORE!!!!!

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Dec 31 Ushuaia

 

Shore Excurions: US01 Milos Radakovich's Wildlife Explorations: Beagle Channel Navigation & Park

 

Celebrity Today

 

MDR New Years Eve Dinner Menu

MDR New Years Eve Dessert Menu

 

This is one of the days of the cruise that I had circled on my calendar: Being at the southernmost port of our cruise on New Year's Eve! Nice way to end the year!

 

This day was going to be a 19 hour day if you wanted to wake up to see the glaciers at 5am and and then ring in 2017 at midnight!

 

Infinity docked pretty much on schedule at 10am that day. My family saw this as an opportunity to sleep in. However you had to wake up at 5am in order to see the five glaciers that Infinity would sail past on the Beagle Channel on the way to Ushuaia. If you wanted to see glaciers, this was pretty much your single best opportunity.

 

The glacier cruising schedule was printed on the front page of the Celebrity Today that was placed in the stateroom the night before (Dec 31 edition). From what I could tell, the prediction times were very accurate. I woke up in time to catch that last couple of glaciers from our aft balcony.

 

 

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6:33am Holanda Glacier. With binoculars you could easily see the blue ice that is characteristic of glaciers.

 

 

 

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7:08am I ordered breakfast for all the members of my family that were awake at the time!

 

 

 

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7:20am Very few of my aft balcony neighbors were up at this time.

 

 

 

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7:21am Infinity position (blue dot). The vertical and horizontal gray line is the Argentina and Chile border. The ship was in Chile while Ushuaia is in Argentina.

 

 

 

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7:39am Beautiful Beagle Channel

 

 

 

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Docked at Ushuaia!

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We took another Celebrity shore excursion at this port: Milos Radakovich's Wildlife Explorations: Beagle Channel Navigation & Park

 

We were emailed a month in advance that unfortunately the heavily promoted Milos Radakovich would not be on our sailing. I guess he gets to take the holidays off.

 

This all day excursion was divided up so that the first half of the trip was by motorcoach to see Tierra Del Fuego National Park and the 2nd half of the trip was a catamaran tour to a few tiny islands in the Beagle Channel which had wildlife. Celebrity divides the passengers on this excursion into two groups. One group does the motorcoach first and the other group goes on the catamaran first and then you switch at mid-day.

 

We were in the group that did the land portion first. In short, I was very disappointed with that part. The areas that we got to see were not very picturesque. I think there were only 2 stops. One stop at the Post Office and another stop at a nice lodge, both were located by lakes. The Post Office "at the end of the world" was ok, but it is not a must-see. We ended up eating lunch (not included in the price of the tour) at the lodge and used the bathrooms there. The 3rd stop was the final stop so we could get on the catamaran. By the way, the buses used for the land portion were fine.

 

In retrospect, I should have just booked the catamaran portion of the tour (US03 "Beagle Channel Catamaran To Sea Wolves Island") and saved $80 per person. That portion of the trip was enjoyable. The catamaran was very nice and while there were plenty of passengers on board, it was not crowded. There was plenty of rail space for people to see the wildlife on the islands with the dramatic Martial Mountains serving as a backdrop. It was impossible to take a bad picture.

 

The boat takes a little time to make its way out to the little islands (30 minutes?). We made around three stops. The catamaran sailed slowly around each island and also spun around to make sure that everyone could see the island and the wildlife on it. I remember passing these islands when Infinity was making its way to the port in Ushuaia. I didn't realize that there were sea lions on a couple of them.

 

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iPhone at its best. Cormorants and terns at Bird Island.

 

 

 

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Cormorants in flight.

 

 

 

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Sea Lion Island. The catamaran in the photo, Massimo, was very similar to the one we were on, Elisabetta.

 

 

 

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Sea lion colony at Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse!

 

 

 

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Lazy sea lions!

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One more photo taken during the catamaran cruise of the Martial Mountains.

 

We did not spend any time walking around Ushuaia. Too bad. After getting back on board, the ship left Ushuaia that evening. Although we were tired, we were getting ready to celebrate the New Year.

 

Because of the cold weather, all the celebratory activities were indoors. The Constellation Lounge had a DJ playing music. There was a very good live band playing at the Grand Foyer where the Captain made an appearance at midnight. The Rendezvous Lounge also had a live band. Free champagne was being handed out (even though we had already purchased our own bottle).

 

After checking out all the lounges, we decided to stand among the many passengers at the Grand Foyer. It was too crowded to take a get photograph of the 2016 ice carving. I did manage this video clip:

Ringing in 2017 aboard Celebrity Infinity! Captain Yannis Berdos is standing next to the ice carving at the left in the video.

 

 

 

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My dessert at the Main Dining Room on New Years Eve.

 

 

 

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Port of Ushuaia. Our catamaran used during the shore excursion is docked on the right side of the pier near the angle.

 

 

 

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10:09pm After leaving Ushuaia, Infinity does not head back east to see the glaciers again (like I had hoped), but rather goes west along the Beagle Channel. She would arrive at Cape Horn at 6am on New Year's Day which meant that we were not going to sleep in (for the second day in a row).

Edited by mahdnc
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Celebrity Today

 

MDR Dinner Menu

MDR Dessert Menu

 

 

So on the first day of 2017, we visited the southern tip of South America, the famous Cape Horn! What a dramatic way to start the new year!

 

The trouble was that Infinity was scheduled to be there at 6am after celebrating New Year's Eve the night before.

 

I woke up at 6am as I heard an announcement of the ship's arrival on the public address system. It was raining lightly and it was windy. Thankfully, the seas were not rough.

 

Infinity circled the archipelago of islands that made up South America's most southerly point. I noticed on my GPS that the ship briefly went past Latitude 56.0 degrees South. At the island with the lighthouse on it, the Captain slowly rotated the ship 360 degrees twice so that all the sleepy passengers could see it as well as the albatross sculpture dedicated to all the sailors who lost their lives around Cape Horn. The lighthouse is staffed by the Chilean Navy.

 

 

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6:10am My first view of Cape Horn when I stepped out onto our balcony!

 

 

 

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6:11am Screenshot of my Apple Watch. We are at the bottom of the world!

 

 

 

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6:32am Ship position (blue dot) on my iPhone map.

 

 

 

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7:33am Infinity sailed around the Cape Horn archipelago islands.

 

 

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7:47am Cape Horn lighthouse manned by the Chilean Navy.

 

 

 

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7:47am This interesting sculpture, dedicated to sailors who lost their lives around Cape Horn, has an albatross in the negative space.

Edited by mahdnc
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We were pretty tired as it seemed to be all non-stop activity with little sleep since Dec 31 (Ushuaia). Before we went to bed, we were treated with this memorable sunset:

 

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9:40pm First sunset of 2017!

 

 

 

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9:55pm. Pesky albatross, pretty sunset, and calm seas.

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Celebrity Today

 

I don't have that day's MDR Dinner Menu

I don't have that day's MDR Dessert Menu

 

Well, as you would guess, this was a day of rest and recuperation from the frantic and frenetic activities of the past few days! So not a whole lot of pictures or stories from this day.

 

As the cruise progressed, the Norovirus countermeasures were growing. The handrails and elevator buttons were getting chemically cleaned. You could no longer serve yourself in the buffet. The Apple Store was cleared of all the products that were set out for demonstration. And all the books were removed from the library. Before the end of the cruise, all the drinking glasses were removed from our cabin (presumably for thorough cleaning) and replaced with paper cups.

 

That day was the final round of the cruise blackjack tournament. After the preliminary rounds were finished from the prior at sea days, the top 7 leaders played in the final round. I was the leader which only meant that I got first choice on where to sit at the table. We played 7 hands. And on the sixth hand, I bet all my chips in an attempt to take the lead. I was dealt a 20 on the first two cards and the dealer was showing a 8. Yay. The dealer had a 10 card face down and then dealt himself a 3! So I lost. My wife took private pleasure in the fact that the only woman at the table ended up being the winner.

 

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No books in the library!

 

 

 

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I was the leader after the preliminary rounds were done; but ended up 6th out of 7 in the final round. Teresa was the big winner.

 

 

 

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8:41am After the rainy day at Cape Horn, the following sea day weather was very nice as the skies cleared.

 

 

 

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9:05pm The nicer weather gave us some nice sunsets for the next couple of evenings.

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Shore Exursion: Scuba Diving with Sea Lions (privately arranged through Master Divers Patagonia)

 

Celebrity Today

 

MDR Dinner Menu

MDR Dessert Menu

 

 

The ship arrived a little late and the lines were very long to get off the ship which for that day was from Deck 3. We were stuck in a long line at 10am to get off the ship and we was supposed to be at the dive shop at 1030.

 

The dock is very long (0.3 miles) and the center of town is about a mile away from the pier. So Celebrity provides a free shuttle bus between the center of town and the ship. Even though we were in a hurry, we had to take the shuttle bus as there were no taxis on the pier by our ship. I think the taxis were at the entrance to the pier, but I didn't want to walk the 0.3 miles to find out if they were there or not.

 

When the bus dropped us off at the center of town, there was a very long line of taxis waiting hoping to take passengers on a tour of Puerto Madryn. We only needed a ride to the dive shop which was only a couple of miles away.

 

If I remember correctly, this was the day on our cruise that Infinity left the port late because of high winds. You can understand why the Captain would be very cautious especially after this

!

 

 

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7:58am Beautiful sunny morning greeted us at Puerto Madryn.

 

 

 

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7:54am Infinity is preparing to dock at Puerto Madryn. We were a little late. Not visible are sea lions that are laying on some steps at the end of the pier to the right.

 

 

 

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Parked in the center of Puerto Madryn, this is the free shuttle bus. It takes you all to the pier and drops you off right at the ship!

 

 

 

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9:39pm Crescent moon and Venus in the evening sky. The nicer weather gave us clear skies in the evening to see the stars in the southern sky that I can't see from my home in Chicago. Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, Alpha Centauri, and Canopus to name a few stars and objects. Because we are sooo far south, some of the familiar constellations like the Big and Little Dipper are not visible at all and the recognizable constellation of Orion was upside down! This is where our corner FV balcony came in handy. It allowed you to lie peacefully and comfortably in a lounge chair looking straight up at the sky. It made it easier to use binoculars, too.

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This was the first port that we did a private excursion. My wife loves to scuba dive and so the kids and I are certified divers as well. Our dives have been in tropical climates like the Caribbean and Florida But here, we wanted to dive with the sea lions and so the water was a lot colder and required wet suits. However the diving is in shallow water--20 feet or less.

 

I booked our trip with Master Divers Patagonia which is a small dive shop that was highly rated on TripAdvisor. They are an excellent company.

 

The pictures are pretty self descriptive. It was amazing how playful, friendly and curious the sea lions were. They were like puppy dogs. They liked to touch you and they liked to be touched. They were also pretty fast in the water, too. One moment they were near you, the next moment they darted away to go up and get a breath of air, and then they would quickly come back.

 

This dive was the best shore excursion that we did during the entire cruise. My son proclaimed it to be the best dive that he had ever done! Here is a link to a GoPro video that we shot during the dive: Diving with Sea Lions at Puerto Madryn

 

 

 

 

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Our son is in the foreground and our daughter is in the background.

 

 

 

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The sea lions were very fast and agile in the water.

 

 

 

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The sea lions were playful and liked to be touched!

 

 

 

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About 4-5 sea lions came out to play with us during our dive!

 

 

 

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They liked to nibble gently on your finger and on your fins!

 

 

 

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Their whiskers were surprisingly stiff and wirey!

Edited by mahdnc
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ojainel, the Buenos Aires to Valparaiso direction has a few advantages:

 

1. Cape Horn occurs at a more convenient time of day than ours did.

 

2. Same goes for sailing through the Glacier Alley section of the Beagle Channel (yours should occur in the late afternoon or early evening).

 

3. It's better to have the Buenos Aires overnight at the start of the cruise rather than at the end. Having it at the end made it feel like the cruise ended a day early.

 

You will enjoy your cruise. We did!

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Celebrity Today

 

MDR Breakfast Menu Page 1

MDR Breakfast Menu Page 2

MDR Dinner Menu

MDR Dessert Menu

 

 

Another day of rest! We got our passports back on this day after having surrendered them when we checked in at the pier in Valparaiso. There were no lines of people when I showed up to collect my family's passports.

 

My wife and I ate breakfast at the formal dining room for a change. During the cruise, if our kids were with us for breakfast, we usually ate in the buffet. If it were only my wife and I, we would go to the MDR so we could meet other passengers.

 

The 4 of us had lunch at Sushi on Five on this day. We have eaten at the Tuscan Grille and Qsine while aboard Eclipse and so we did not go to those restaurants on this cruise (plus the specialty dining charge for 4 of us adds up pretty quick!). However we have never been to Sushi on Five before as it is relatively new. Our son was new to sushi (or never had very much of it) and he discovered that he really liked it. It was amazing to see him shovel it down! The food was pretty good with service to match. I think the total bill was $90 for the 4 of us and that included the gratuity.

 

When we ate there, Sushi on Five was nearly deserted. I think there were only 2-3 other tables that were occupied in addition to ours. We walked past that restaurant many times during the cruise and it was never busy.

 

Weather-wise, it was another magnificent day. Sunshine and lots of it. Evening skies were also clear (and dark) for another night of stargazing.

 

I haven't said much about the evening shows. That's because our family has stopped going to them regularly a couple of years ago. We did go to three shows on this cruise. Two of them were on this day. The first one was a Matinee show at 2:30pm: "Ryan Joyce Hypnosis Show". The second one was the "Late Night Comedy with George Kanter" at 10:30pm. Both shows were ok, but I walked away a bit disappointed with each of them.

 

The other show we went to was on Day 5, "La Sirena", an aerialist show. My daughter really likes that type of entertainment and so the whole family attended. But again, it wasn't anything that really impressed me.

 

Here is a movie clip I took from our aft balcony: FV 8166 balcony pan

 

Some photos:

 

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Sushi on Five for lunch. Yum!

 

 

 

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We ate all of our dinners in the Main Dining Room. The 2 story tall rear windows (shade drawn in the photo) provide a nice view out the back of the ship. This is a design feature that is missing on S class ships.

 

 

 

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8:11pm. Because we never changed our clocks and because of the distance traveled by Infinity, sunset times varied greatly from 8pm (this photo) to 10pm earlier in the cruise. Map on the right marks the location of the ship at the time of the sunset photo.

 

 

 

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My favorite stargazing spot during the evenings! Being away from the city lights made for dark skies. The photo to the left is an iPhone screenshot of the Milky Way laden area of the sky that I saw during each clear night. The screenshot was from my Sky Guide app. The closest star to our sun, Alpha Centauri--a very bright star that is easily seen from my balcony, is not visible from where I live.

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Shore Excursion: Bicycle Tour with Bike Tours Uruguay (privately arranged)

 

 

Celebrity Today

 

MDR Dinner Menu

MDR Dessert Menu

 

 

Another beautiful day and another port that required tendering to get to shore! Unfortunately our daughter felt ill and stayed on the ship that day. So the three of us went ashore for the bicycle tour that we booked. After the tour was done, we headed straight back to the ship to make sure that she was ok.

 

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8:28am Pilot boat comes out to meet us outside of Punta Del Este.

 

 

 

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1:44pm Love Me Tender! Infinity anchored off of Punta del Este. At this port, a tender service was used as well as some of Infinity's own tenders. We were on of the non-Infinity tenders when the picture was taken. It was really sloooow.

 

 

 

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5:51pm View of Punta Del Este from the Constellation Lounge. The boats to the left are two of the tenders being used.

 

 

 

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7:45pm Nightly turndown.

 

 

 

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7:56pm It's another beautiful sunset.

 

 

 

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8:23pm Punta Del Este skyline as we are sailing away.

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