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ArtM

Infinity to Alaska, May 30 Report

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The May 30 Infinity Alaska cruise went very well, even though we never saw temperatues above 68 in 9 days. It was a repeat of the September '02 cruise when our son was working on the Infinity.

Our journey started and finished right with flights on Harmony (HMY) airlines out of Toronto - good leg room even in economy along with a hot breakfast and dinner, including complimentary wine. We started off with a 2 day stay in Vancouver; definitely one of the neatest cities in North America. We've been there before so we just walked around; it is a great city for exploring on foot. For us up-state New Yorkers, it was a real treat to find that Tim Horton's donut shops had arrived in Western Canada with their wonderful coffee. Still outnumbered by Starbucks in Vancouver, but it's the quality that counts [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

Boarding was not available until noon; US Immigration had to pre-clear us for Ketchikan before we left Vancouver. We happened to have Concierge Class so we were among the very first to board. Because of the potential delay til Immigration showed up, Celebrity was serving small sandwiches, cookies, and stuff to drink while people waited.

The first day sailing thru the Inner passage is best described as "gray." In our first port of Ketchikan, there was some off and on rain in "downtown" Ketchikan, but it was clear and sunny out in the Misty Fjords for our floatplane ride. We booked ahead of time with Dave of Family Air. We landed on a lake in the backcountry and spent about a half hour admiring the scenery. Highly recommended.

The next day at Hubbard glacier was a mild disappointment. There was so much ice in the water, including 3 large ice bergs, that we could only get to within about 6.5 miles of the glacier. Of course, that is better than the Royal Caribbean ship just ahead of us that could get no closer than 10 miles. Captain Manaros spun the ship around 360 degrees to try to find a path in, but had no luck. A major issue was that although the Infinity could push its way through the ice chunks, those chunks could do bad things to the pods - and we all know how sensitive Celebrity is to the health of its ships' pods. Guess that averages out our first trip on the Infinity when we went in to within a mile on a bright sunny day. Anyhow, it was bright enough that we could still see the viibrant blue color of the ice even from a considerable distance away.

Our day in Juneau was absolutely clear and sunny - the first nice day they had in two weeks. We picked up a bus at the dock for $10 RT and went out to Mendenhall glacier and explored for a couple hours before heading back into town. Then we took the tram up Mt Roberts and got a spectacular view of the area. The ship was docked right beside the Tram base station.

The final stop in Sitka had less outstanding weather - random drizzle, followed by a major increase in the wind around noon. In Sitka, we walked out to the National Historic site, and then took a really impressive walk thru a tall pine forest. There were about a dozen totem poles scattered throughout the forest. Really neat. Afterwards, we went over to the Alaska Raptor Center which is a rest and recovery factlity for injured eagles, hawks and other nasty birds. It was worth the admission price to be able to support that work. Then we did some shopping in Sitka before heading back to the ship. Since we were tendering, I expected a rough ride back to the ship, but it was still pretty smooth.

The trip back down to Vancouver was fairly rough because of the high winds. Didn't bother us, but some pax weren't feeling well. It was rough enough that we ended up getting into Vancouver 90 minutes late. Vancouver has a bad reputation for congestion in the customs and immigration and ground transportation areas, and it lived up to it. Even though we had a 2:30 PM flight, things started to look dicey from where we were standing in the taxi line. One of our traveling companions started exploring and found a limousine waiting for customers. The $51 Cdn price was twice that of a cab, but the plush ride was a treat, and we were at the airport by 12:30 PM.

The Infinity itself was delight; it's in great condition and has the typical first rate Celebrity crew. On the sunny day in Juneau, the painters were out varnishing the railing on Deck 11. We did run into a number of people who had worked with Seth. Three of them, whom we did not meet, sent us a bottle of champagne and a fruit basket.

Concierge Class was nice; a little bigger stateroom and balcony. There are a few special benefits, but the best was probably the "conformance" pillows on the bed. They were wonderful. Our stateroom attendant, Jose, and his assistant, Jack, did a very good job. They were both very visible, and took care of the few special requests that we had. One of them also left towel "critters" on the bed a couple nights. Nancy had left her sunglasses out one day so we ended up with a bespectacled towel critter. We were in 9069 and had no problems with noise from above. Since there were some rainy and windy days, the overhang was a plus rather than a minus. The only problem for me with it is that it can get in the way when one takes pictures.

Food was pretty good across the board. As usual, we especially liked eating breakfast and lunches at the AquaSpa grill. What was most impressive were the "light" desserts there; they were a step above anything served in the main dining room. Definitely, the hands of the SS United States pastry chef at work on his day job. Our breaks from the AquaSpa grill were for an occasional omelet at the omelet bar; we never tried the waffle bar, but one of our traveling companions really enjoyed it. My biggest complaint, now that we have done 4 Celebrity cruises in 20 months, is that the main dining room menus have not changed.

Whoever did the dining room seating arrangements was a star as far as we were concerned. We were traveling with another couple, and we ended up at a table for 8 with couples from Vancouver and San Francisco who were also traveling together. This made for an instantly loud and riotous table since since everyone started off at ease. Didn't hurt that all of us had gone to the martini tasting before dinner on the first night. The Vancouver couple also turned out to have the stateroom next to us.

As a bonus, we had a spectacular view out the full length windows. We were at the absolute rear of the ship on the upper level just to the right of the captain's table. Since the we couldn't be at the captain's table, on the second formal night, the other two guys brought along "officer" stripes which they attached to their jackets with Velcro tabs when the ship photographer showed up at dinner. A great group picture which we were all willing to buy, but it never made it to the photo gallery. A search was requested, but I don't know if it will every be found.

We did eat in the SS United States one evening. The food and presentation were both excellent. They had a special filet mignon, that was not a regular menu item, the night we were there so I had that. Now that I have eaten in the specialty dining room thrice, I have mixed emotions about spending $30 to do it again. It is a wonderful treat, but I'm not sure if it is worth that much extra. On the other hand, it is pretty good, and it is a change of pace from the main dining room.

Of all the "rebranding" things that Celebrity has done such as the champagne when boarding, the one I liked best was the Alaska one, namely, cups of hot chocolate when one reboarded after going ashore. It was good enough that I spent money to buy it in the Cova Cafe, and as part of the "Celebrity" specialty hot chocolate drink. In Sitka, they were at the tender dock passing it out to people while they waited for a ride back to the ship.

I guess it counts as rebranding so I'll admit to finding time to visit the sushi bar. Since it is only open for two hours each day, everything is super fresh and really good. As far as I could tell, it had a goodly number of customers. Try it if you want a good introduction to sushi - they had about 15 varieties. Do watch out for the cocktail sauce for the shrimp sushi; it will get your attention [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

We enjoyed all of the entertainment. As with the main dining room, we have been on enough cruises recently that we are starting to see repeats. That's not a problem. Dominique Ava, the violinist, and her juggler-comedian husband, Lucas, and Xavier, the aerialist, all of whom we saw on the Summit last fall were all very good. However, Lucas could use some new material [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] He was lucky enough not to have to juggle on the rough seas day. My overall impression of the entertainment is that the quality of the Celebrity singers has taken a major step up from our first cruise on the Infinity. I also noticed that the size of the Celebrity Dancers troupe has increased from 8 to 11? Since the theatre stage on the Infinity is pretty good size, the extra dancers are needed to keep it from having an "empty" look during times when only the dancers are performing.

Yes, we went to the Connections party on the first sea day. There were over 20 of us present. Since there were less than 30 signed up, Don Fluke, the CD thought that was a pretty good showing.

Mr Fluke is indeed an outstanding CD. Since we had Simon Weir on our Transcanal cruise on the Summit last September, our luck in getting first rate CD's seems to be pretty good.

Overall, it was an excellent cruise. Now that we have done 4 cruises, I am able to relax and enjoy all the good things without being concerned if everything is absolutely perfect. As far as truly bad things, in the case of this cruise, the only less than good thing that we personally encountered was the rough sea on the day after we left Sitka. Fortunately, I seem to have outgrown most of my childhood problems with motion.

Art

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We are on the Infinity on 6/20 and I appreciated your review. The closer it gets the more difficult time I'm having wishing it would hurry up and get here!!!! Oh, I can hardly wait. (First Celebrity cruise.)

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Hi Art, welcome home. It was very nice to meet you at the C.C. party. I hope you have many more happy sailings! All the best to you!

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff00ff&cdt=2004;5;30;17;45;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]
Until I am back on the Infinity

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Thanks for taking the time to post your review. We'll be on the July 4 sailing and appreciate getting the latest info on the Infinity and Alaska.

Starward 03/91; Dreamward 04/94; Victory 04/01; Mercury 01/03; Imagination 05/03; Paradise 11/03; Legend 01/04; Infinity 07/04; Zuiderdam 12/04

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Art,

I enjoy your writings so very much. Excellent report...I felt like I was sailing right along with you.

Miss those encounters and morning chats with you along the upper deck walkways! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

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Thanks for your review. Everything you mentioned is exactly what I expect on the Infinity. We will be doing this cruise on 27 June.

Karen & Paul
[email]kmbix56@wmconnect.com[/email]
[img]http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/8/8_3_23.gif[/img]
[url="http://community.webshots.com/album/124134511FOjEih"]http://community.webshots.com/album/124134511FOjEih[/url]
Infinity
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=800080&cdt=2004;06;27;17;45;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]
Galaxy B2B 10/04
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=800080&cdt=2004;10;16;17;45;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]
Mercury 03/04
Radiance 01/04
Summit 09/03, Infinity B2B Hawaii 03/03,Infinity 10/02,
Maasdam 07/02, Sun Princess 03/02,Maasdam 11/01,Statendam 07/01,Dolphin 1990?

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Thank you for the wonderful review. We will be on the June 20th cruise. This is our first cruise and we are so..... excited. Hopefully we will have good weather.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ElaineB2:
We are on the Infinity on 6/20 and I appreciated your review. The closer it gets the more difficult time I'm having wishing it would hurry up and get here!!!! Oh, I can hardly wait. (First Celebrity cruise.)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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Hi, Art! Patrick and I were talking about you recently -- he wondered if you were still on the boards, and I said I hadn't seen much of you since you revealed your son had left the X employee family -- maybe I just wasn't reading the right threads, as you prepared to cruise again! We really enjoyed Infinity last summer, ourselves -- just sailed Mercury two months ago; tomorrow morning I am getting up early in hopes of catching her first arrival in Seattle for the season. Anyway, wanted to say hi, enjoyed the review, take care!

TR
Millennium 12/12/04
****
Mercury 4/04, Infinity 8/03, Century 3/03 & 9/02

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Jen, Brian, Tracy

Good to hear from all of you. Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, I am around and keep posting, but I tend to stay out of the heated discussions. Our son is maintaining his contacts with his Celebrity friends, but he really likes his land based job so I doubt that he will ever return to the sea.

It's a good thing that we like the Infinity. We are amongst those early bookers who have been able to stick with our plans to do the 12/5/04 15 day Hawaii cruise.

Now eat your hearts out. I ran into a couple on the Infinity who had done the 9 day Hawaii to Vancouver cruise and the 2 day Victoria cruise prior to the Inner Passage cruise. Think they are also booked on a European cruise later this summer.

Art

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I had to chuckle when you mentioned the menu's haven't been changed, we went on the Horizon in 2001 and the menu's have been the same ever since. I know it's probably very difficult to roll out a new menu, but I'm getting tired of the same selections.
We also enjoyed the AquaSpa food, it was much better than the stuff at the buffet.

Stephanie

1986 Southward, NCL;1987 Holiday, Carnival;1988 Seaward, NCL; 1989 SS Norway, NCL;1990 Starward, NCL;1991 Skyward, NCL;1993 & 1994 Viking Serande, RCL; 1996 & 1997 Westerdam, HAL;1998 Noordam, HAL;1999 Veendam, HAL; 2000 Galaxy, Celebrity; 2001 Ryndam, HAL; 2001 Horizon, Celebrity;2002 Zaandam, HAL;2002 Horizon, Celebrity;2003 Constellation, Celebrity;2004 Mercury, Celebrity

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Thank you so much for the great review. Have sailed Alaska aboard the Mercury and can't wait to do it again aboard the Infinity in August!!! I hope that we have better success with Hubbard then you did!!!

65 days till we marry aboard the Infinity in Vancouver then its off to Alaska!!

Erin & Brent
"Friends are the family that you choose for yourself"

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