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Marylander

Review Of Infinity Roundtrip Cruise Los Angeles-Hawaii (Oct 22 - Nov 5 2006) Part II

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FOOD AND DINING EXPERIENCE

This is something what supposedly makes Celebrity a shining beacon among other cruise companies. Well, I should say yes, but to a certain degree. Our TA said that X spends on the food about 20% more than of other lines. That doesn’t necessarily mean great quality, and even dining room staff admitted that after X was bought by RCL, the corners started to get cut, and what was once a trademark of Celebrity, is not that anymore.

Compared to RCL itself, of course, it is far better. But compared to Radisson, for example – not at all. The food in the main dining room was consistently good, but not fantastic. Breakfast in the Ocean View Café was ordinary even for RCL or Princess, with a couple of nice touches such as fresh made waffles. Juice selections were standard, omelet stations were average, the choice of cold cuts was very limited, etc. Service during breakfast was very uneven; once we found a good waiter(s), we preferred to stick with him for the rest of the cruise. Lunch was way better, especially the sandwich station and the pasta station. Pizza was probably the worst part of lunch selection, and it wasn’t a fault of the serving staff – it’s just they had it frozen and then reheated, I guess.

The AquaSpa Café had limited but good choice of “healthy” alternative food during brealfast and lunch.

Teatime was even better than lunch, particularly because of great canapés served both in Cova and in the Ocean View Café.

Then you have your sushi at 5 pm, which were good (not incredible, but very consistent – and you can have as much of them as you wish...).

Finally, comes dinnertime – two seatings, at 6.30 and at 8.30. We had later seating and were very happy with it – no rush from the shore to get dressed for dinner, smaller crowd, and therefore, faster service.

I enjoyed appetizers and soups to a great degree. Seafood entrees were good without fail, as were beef/pork entrees (with rare exceptions). Veal and lamb entrees were uneven to my taste. There were a few really delicious entrees during those two weeks, but it tells you that in the whole the quality of dinner on Infinity is just somewhat better than industry average.

A good word has to be said about desserts. Pastry chef and his assistant on Infinity are true masters; we enjoyed each and every dessert we asked for during dinners, plus their numerous intricate creations in Cova Café.

Specialty restaurant (SS United States) was very good: final meal preparation is done at your table, serving is close to perfection, and food appearance and taste are great... too bad you have to pitch in $60 for a couple to get what is a standard thing on high-end cruise lines (I mentioned above the outrageous wine pricing on Celebrity ships. This dinner with 2 glasses of mediocre wine raked around $100 for the two of us – not big deal, you’d say. I tend to agree, but don’t forget that this was extra to our already paid for food in the main restaurant... and onboard of Seven Seas Mariner this kind of dinner would cost us nothing!)

One thing was quite irritating: we had our table on the balcony, starboard, and in order to get there we had to pass every time by the galley’s doors. The smell of cheap restaurant (a combo of strong disinfectant plus fatty stale plates plus something else... you know what I’m talking about!) was getting progressively stronger with cruise advancement. It is very hard to enjoy your meal while you smell that kind of stuff, trust me.

We ordered room service a couple of times, mostly sandwiches – they were of average quality. Delivery was timely, thanks to our attendant.

X is well-known (and is very proud) of it’s buffets. I agree - with one remark. Most of the buffets were complete waste of chefs efforts and the produce – late night buffets most certainly did not get even a half of the prepared meals, cakes, etc., eaten. I saw a couple of very tired and frustrated looks on the faces of kitchen staff when they had to drag almost untouched dishes back to the galley.

But this is the way the cookie crumbles in this type of industry, I guess.

 

INTERNET

Price of 75 c per min may not seem to be a showstopper, but consider this (and I timed it): average (!) time for opening of Yahoo mail page takes about 5-6 min from the moment you logged in your ship account, because of the very slow (via satellite) connectivity. Wi-Fi, as staff told me, works fast only within Infinity intranet – then it goes through the same satellite, so there you have it. In addition, for Wi-Fi you have to pay extra - $5 if you use “hot spots”, or $10 if you use from your cabin.

My average daily e-mail charge was $11-15 for one or two short messages. Mind you, because of the computer setting, you can’t compile the text before you log in, so you still waste money while working with the Word.

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FOOD AND DINING EXPERIENCE

This is something what supposedly makes Celebrity a shining beacon among other cruise companies. Well, I should say yes, but to a certain degree. Our TA said that X spends on the food about 20% more than of other lines. That doesn’t necessarily mean great quality, and even dining room staff admitted that after X was bought by RCL, the corners started to get cut, and what was once a trademark of Celebrity, is not that anymore.

Compared to RCL itself, of course, it is far better. But compared to Radisson, for example – not at all.

I respectfully disagree. Regent's food at dinner was, at best, incrementally better than Celebrity's. In some cases (all beef dishes, coq au vin) Celebrity does a better job outright. We did enjoy the canapés that Regent made available almost 24/7. Regent also frequently served caviar. In the end, though, I didn't see enough difference in the food quality to justify the much higher per diem (even including the booze and tips on X) for a Regent cruise.

 

The buffets (breakfast and lunch) on both Seven Seas Mariner and Voyager were clearly superior, although Celebrity's pasta bar exceeds the buffet pasta offerings on Regent. Again, though, it's hard for me to justify paying the price increment to improve the quality of the buffet.

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For another perspective on the exact same cruise:

 

my review for the cruise is now posted in the review section. Please excuse the grammar and punctuation- in reformating it for the review, much of the formatting, many symbols, and some punctuation was lost...I've asked them to fix it, but we'll see. Here's a link: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=23215

 

Not that I necessarily disagree with what Marylander wrote, just that it might be helpful to get two views.

 

Andrew

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