South America Cruise on the Celebrity Infinity
2/27/11 to 3/13/11
Celebrity Infinity with Mount Osorno in the background
Page 1: Pre-Cruise at Iguazu Falls; Ship; Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Page 2: Montevideo, Uruguay; Punta Del Este, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Cape Horn, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina ; Punta Arenas, Chile; Strait Of Magellan; Chilean Fjords ; Puerto Montt, Chile; Valparaiso, Chile
For many years we had heard how much people enjoy South American cruises around Cape Horn. We had also dreamed of visiting Iguazu Falls, the widest waterfall in the world, which is located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. In July 2009, while shopping for future vacations, we found a cruise on the Celebrity Infinity that would allow us to do both. The only problem was that we would have to wait almost 600 days till we could leave.
Pre-Cruise in Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires
We had found a reasonably priced flight to Buenos Aires from Miami on LAN Airlines that would get us into the International Airport EZE at 7:45 AM. Since we had booked a flight for Iguazu that was supposed to leave at 11:40 AM from the Aeroparque airport downtown, we assumed that we would have adequate time to get to there. A couple of months before the trip, the flight to Iguazu was moved up to 11:25 AM, which made it a tighter connection. We had planned on leaving 3 of our 4 suitcases at the Aeroparque luggage storage facility. Our plan of action would save us the cost of taking the excess luggage weight to Iguazu and the hassle of dragging it to and from there; but it could also take more time to arrange than we had to spare.
The flight on LAN was a good one and it arrived about ten minutes early. We didn’t want to risk wasting time trying to get a taxi, so we had booked a car through the Manuel Tienda Leon Company (www.tiendaleon.com/home/home.asp). We were really thrilled when we were able to go through immigration, pick up our luggage, go to the Manuel Tienda Leon booth, meet our driver and put our luggage in the car in just 30 minutes. I was also very glad that I had arranged for the car beforehand, because there was an extremely long line waiting to get a taxi. Things were going well for us.
With it being a Friday morning, I had expected traffic to be heavy; but our driver got us to the Aeroparque in an hour and twenty minutes, which was two hours before our flight. Now all we had to do was find where the luggage storage was. That was when we encountered our first disappointment. We were told that the luggage storage service had been stopped on January 1st. That meant that we would have to throw ourselves on the mercy of LAN. Fortunately the agent told us that she did not have to charge us for the excess luggage since we had come in on an international flight. Thank goodness. We were then informed that our flight to Iguazu was delayed an hour and a half. Oh well, at least we would be able to see the marvelous falls in a few hours.
When we finally left around 1:00 PM, we were very glad to be on our last travel leg of the day. As we left Buenos Aires we flew over the very muddy rivers just outside of the city. I could see why the waters around Buenos Aires were not very appealing for swimmers. In an hour and a half we were landing at the small but quite nice Iguazu airport. I was disappointed that I was on the wrong side of the plane and couldn’t see the falls as we approached.
It took longer to get our luggage than it did in Buenos Aires; but we were just thrilled to finally be finished with flying for the day. Just past the baggage area, there was a desk where we were able to arrange a taxi to drive us to the Sheraton Hotel (https://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1152) on the grounds of the Iguazu National Park. (www.iguazuargentina.com/en/) The whole process was quite easy.
I had seen many photos of the hotel and read mixed reviews on it; so I was looking forward to seeing it in person. It was much nicer than I had expected. It was modern, clean and I would find over our stay that the service we received was excellent.
I had read, before our trip, that I should ask for a room on one of the floors that had been renovated. Because the hotel was already pretty expensive, we had booked the less expensive Jungle View room. I was very pleased with the room and the view was much nicer than what I had expected. It was probably just as well that we had a jungle view room, since I was at the falls during most of the daylight hours or in the restaurant or lobby where there was a lovely view of the falls.
The Sheraton is very close to the various trails which lead to the falls. After traveling all night, Carol didn’t want to walk to the falls right away. She was more interested in unpacking and relaxing. I, on the other hand, could not wait to see the falls up close and personal. The weather forecast for our two day visit was cloudy and rain. Since it wasn’t raining upon our arrival, I wanted to go see the falls and take photos while I could.
There were three main trails – the Lower, the Upper and the train ride to the Devil’s Throat. The Upper trail was by far the easiest one of the three, and only about a five minute walk from the hotel. The pathways were very well marked and well maintained. On the way there was an old lighthouse. Over the next two days, the lighthouse proved to be our landmark and a welcome sight when trying to remember which path to take to get back to the hotel.
As I got closer to the falls, the paths led to metal grate walkways. I got excited as I saw my first small water fall and then actually walked over another one.
As I walked a little further down the path, I saw my first glimpse of what we had come so far to see. It was awesome!
A little further down the path, the view got even better. I couldn’t believe how far the falls went into the distance. They seemed to go on forever. Looking down, I could see below to the lower trail that I would be using the next day so that I could take the boat ride under the falls.
Looking around there were waterfalls everywhere. Water was gushing from all around me. We were very fortunate to be visiting at a time of year when there was such a large water flow. We had friends who had visited a few years earlier during a drought, and their photos of the falls looked nothing like this water wonderland.
I was surprised at how few people were on the trail. The paths continued on to different platforms that had closer views of the various falls. Each one had a different view of the most beautiful waterfalls I had ever seen. The further I went the more beautiful it became. The beauty was enhanced by a rainbow.
I couldn’t wait to return the next day and share what I had seen with Carol. Since we are both waterfall lovers; I knew that, like me, she would be blown away by the amazing beauty.
On my return to the hotel, I went up to the hotel’s roof to a viewing area for another look at the falls. It was quite a nice view. I could have stayed longer, but we had arranged to have dinner with some of our Cruise Critic friends. We would soon be cruising together on the Infinity and we looked forward to spending time with them. After a delicious Argentine steak dinner, we went to bed early. It had been a very, very long day of traveling.
The next morning, while Carol was still enjoying the very comfortable bed and getting some much needed sleep, I went down to the restaurant to try the buffet breakfast that was included with our room. There were many choices of different breakfast items; and they were quite good. When I got back to the room Carol was up and getting ready to go to breakfast. In my impatience to see the falls again, I decided to go back to the upper trail for a quick look while Carol was eating. I saw a group of the animals that looked like ring tailed lemurs; but they were actually a different species called a Ring Tailed Coati.
Upon my return, Carol was ready to finally see the falls. I was thrilled that the sky was a bright blue with only a few white clouds. We had lucked out with the morning’s weather, and it was going to be a great day. Before venturing out, I put on my swimsuit because I planned to take the boat ride that went under the falls later; and I knew I would get soaking wet.
As expected Carol fell in love with the falls. We understood why, when Eleanor Roosevelt first saw Iguazu Falls, she exclaimed “Poor Niagara”. The beauty and awesome power of Iguazu cannot be captured in photographs. For the first time in one of our reviews, I felt that I needed to include a video, since it helps to show the water flow. Below is a video done on my iPhone of the gorgeous falls.
The 275 different falls extend over a 1.7 mile length of the Iguazu River. With a water flow that we were told is twice what it normally is, there were very few breaks in the water and it looked more like one very large waterfall. It is the most amazing natural wonder we have ever seen.
With the sun coming from a different direction, the falls took on a different look and once again I took way too many photos.
We had been fortunate since there weren’t many tourists while we were walking on the paths. With the paths actually going over the falls, it provided for a very dramatic view. As we were returning, the crowds started coming onto the trails. We had lucked out.
After we had completed the upper trail, Carol went back to the hotel and I headed out to the lower trail and my boat ride. There was a long path that led down to where the steps started. I could see that it was going to be a long trek to the bottom. The trail provided a different view of the various falls, including some that couldn’t be seen from the upper trail. There were many steps going down. I wasn’t looking forward to the return trip back up the steps.
I enjoyed looking up at the platforms and waterfalls that I had been looking down from just a couple of hours earlier. Did I say how beautiful these falls were?
It was interesting to watch the boats take their passengers up to and under the falls. I was certainly glad I had on a swim suit. The fun seekers on the boat were getting soaked. I would be getting my chance when I got to the bottom. Fortunately the steps weren’t too crowded with people. I was also very worried about the steps being slippery; but they weren’t.
When I finally got to the bottom of the hill and the end of the trail, the orange boat was unloading passengers and waiting for more thrill seekers to board. I had booked the Nautic Adventure tour with Iguazu Jungle Tours (http://www.iguazujungle.com/index_ing.html). The tour would include just the speedboat ride under the falls. In reading previous reviews of the various tours offered by this company, I had been alerted to not waste the extra money on their Grand Adventure Tour. That tour did basically the same boat ride, but included a very boring 45 minute drive through the jungle on a bumpy road before getting on the boat.
In preparation for my adventure, I was given a life preserver and a large rubberized bag for personal items. Since there wasn’t a line to get onto the boat, so we had to wait until there were enough people to fill up the vessel. After a few minutes, the boat was loaded and ready to take off. We headed up river toward one of the falls. We watched as other boats got close to the falls and then went right into them, where we couldn’t even see them. We were going to be really soaked.
Once our turn to go into the falls arrived, the guide alerted everyone to put personal items into the provided bags. Thank goodness for the bags. As we approached the falls, it felt like I was taking a shower. But once we got into the falls, we were totally drenched by sheets of water beating down upon us. Everyone on the boat was squealing with joy and laughing. It was fun. I don’t think I squealed. Since there weren’t other boats waiting to get into the falls, we went back under two more times, with the crowd cheering for more. We then went to the larger San Martin Falls and went into it three times. What is normally about a ten minute boat ride, lasted for 20 minutes. Wow! What a great ride.
When we returned to the dock, there was a line of people waiting to get onto the boat. As we got off, the path was very crowded with people going both ways. Tourists were everywhere. I couldn’t believe that it had gotten so much more crowded in less than a half hour. It was like a parking lot trying to get up the steps. Part of the hassle was related to people stopping on the steps to take photos; but there were just too many people for the narrow walkways.
After the boat ride, I had originally planned to take another boat over to San Martin Island to get a different view of the falls area. Due to the high water level, the beaches where the boats normally landed were covered with water; so they were not running the San Martin shuttle. It was probably just as well, since I don’t know that I would have had the energy or time to climb up the 275 steps to the top of the island and then do basically the same thing on the lower falls trail to get back to the hotel.
On the way back up the trail I went over to the walkway area I had viewed from the upper falls trail. The landing was really close to the falls and was just a beautiful place. I did have to be careful though, since the spray would periodically be blown over to where I was trying to take photos.
It was a long walk back to the top of the hill with many ramps and steps to climb. There were large crowds of tourists jammed up at various points along the trail. I was really grateful that we had missed them when we previously walked the Upper Falls trail. At least the views of the various falls were quite lovely and made the effort well worthwhile.
The Lower Falls trek had taken longer than I had expected and it was almost 2:00 PM. I was getting very hungry and knew that Carol would be wondering where I was. When I got back to the hotel, we decided to eat lunch there, rather than go into the park concession area. Lunch took longer than we expected.
The park closed at 5:00 PM and we were worried that we would miss the last train to the trail that would take us to the Devil’s Throat. We walked over to the train station. We had just missed the train, so we had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.
There were many tourists there and it was very crowded. It was also getting very cloudy. We had been very fortunate with the weather, but it looked like our luck was running out. When the train finally arrived and we boarded, it began to pour. I had so hoped to be able to see the Devil’s Throat in clear weather, but it looked like that wouldn’t happen. But to our surprise, the rain stopped in about two minutes. The train left the station and the skies began to clear some. Maybe we wouldn’t have the rain spoil our visit. The train ride took about 10 minutes. It was a long way to Devil’s Throat trail. I sure wouldn’t want to miss the last train back and have to walk back to the hotel. I couldn't believe the large group of people waiting to take the path to Devil's Throat.
The sign at the trail said that it was 5/8 of a mile long. Since I was worried about the rain returning, I left Carol to navigate the trail at her own pace, saying that I would meet her at the falls. The path was elevated over the river and seemed to go on forever. It was difficult to make good time, since there were so many people, many of whom were taking a leisurely stroll to the Devil’s Throat. Finally, I got a glimpse of the splendid falls. It is a horseshoe shaped area, and has the greatest water flow of any of the falls. It was larger than I had expected. The sun was actually shining by the time I got there, and it was just so beautiful.
There were so many people trying to get photos that it was difficult to be able to get up to the railing to take some of my own. Since it was 4:45 PM, I had assumed that most people would have been heading back to the train to get out of the park before it closed. People were really enjoying the spot. Fortunately, it did thin out some, and we could get an unobstructed view of the beauty of the Devil’s Throat. The mist plume would cover the view and then descend for a while before it would rise and frequently cover the viewing area with a cooling and drenching mist.
I had seen videos of that part of the waterfall many times, but nothing could compare to seeing it in person. The raw power we were witnessing was amazing. The distinctive yellow brown colored water gushing over the top was just mesmerizing and quite beautiful.
Carol had headed back to the train before me, and most of the crowd had also left by the time I was ready to go back. I took some photos of the area to remember what it looked like and started back down the long path to the train. I had been worried about missing the last train; but it was unnecessary concern, since they were running till well after 5:30 PM.
We didn’t get back to the hotel until after 6:00 PM and there were still many people walking around the park. Park security officers were telling people they had to leave; but they just didn’t want to go. It had been such a wonderful day. One that neither of us will ever forget.
The next morning, since our flight back to Buenos Aires wasn’t until 11:30 AM, I took another quick walk over to the Upper Falls trail to get one last look. Several busses had arrived and what had been a very relaxing and peaceful walk the previous two days, was now turned into a crowded noisy pathway. I just took a quick glimpse of the falls and turned around to head back to the hotel.
Iguazu Falls is undoubtedly the most beautiful natural wonder we have ever seen. The way the walkways are set up allows an up close, intimate view of the falls in all their glory. This is a “must do” bucket list location.
We had the hotel get us a car to the airport. Once again, it was only about a 15 minute ride. We had been worried that we would be getting a big airline charge for the excess luggage on the return leg of the trip since we weren’t coming directly from an international flight. We were once again pleasantly surprised that the ticket agent just asked to see our previous boarding pass and itinerary to verify that we had been on an international flight and she waived the excess luggage fee. We were quite appreciative. Previously, I had been very impressed with LAN’s service when booking our flights. There had been no change fee when we needed to change our flight schedule to Iguazu, and now no excess fee. I was also impressed with their planes and service on the ground and in the air. I would highly recommend LAN for travel to South America. Since we were on the same side of the plane as we had been when we landed, I kept my camera out in hopes that I could get a photo of the falls from the air. Sure enough, almost immediately upon gaining altitude, we could see the plumes of mist floating over the falls.
After we landed, we once again headed to the Manuel Tienda Leon booth in the terminal. Our car quickly took us to the cruise terminal. There was a mass of people there for several cruise ships that were boarding, but it was an organized chaos. Once we got into the terminal, we were able to get oriented, get through the paperwork and head for the ship. The Buenos Aires terminal is not next to where the cruise ships are docked, so we had to board a bus to be taken to the ship. It is a very large commercial port and there were containers stacked five and six high everywhere. Having seen too many movies on TV, Carol wondered aloud how many dead bodies were concealed in them.
When we finally got to the Infinity, we couldn’t believe how steep the gangplank was to enter the ship on Deck 3. I had to hold onto the railings to keep from falling backwards. In my opinion, this was a serious safety issue; and they should not have allowed passengers to board at that steep of an incline. Climbing the Iguazu Lower Falls trail was easier than boarding the ship. There was no way a wheelchair could be pushed up the ramp. I then noticed that there was another ramp that wasn’t being used for general boarding that went to Deck 2. I guess it could be used for people that needed assistance.
At last we were back on the Infinity. This was our third time on her and we felt right at home.
Since this is our third cruise review of the Celebrity Infinity I don’t think it is really necessary to discuss the virtues of the ship's public areas, especially since Infinity is scheduled for a makeover in November 2011. We thoroughly enjoy this ship class and will just include some photos of the public areas for us to remember the way she looked before the makeover.
Breezes Pool Area
Basketball Court and the Ship Mates Fun Factory
Main Lobby and Guest Relations
Martini Bar and Champagne Bar
Internet Cafe and Movie Theater
For this cruise we had selected a starboard veranda cabin, number 7178. We had selected the starboard side because of the direction we would be cruising; which would mean that we could see the terrain while cruising near land rather than the open ocean. Our cabin was located very close to the rear elevators. This particular area of the ship had larger verandas than the normal ones. Ours was approximately 9 feet wide by 7.5 feet deep. We absolutely loved the location. It was so easy to get to the restaurants and for me, very fast access to the upper decks to get photos.
We always ask before a cruise to have an egg crate mattress added to the top of the mattress in the cabin, since they are normally pretty stiff. The egg crate we got for this cruise was the best ever. It really made for some comfortable sleeping. Also related to the bed, we were able to get two large suitcases under each side of the bed making for easy storage.
The arrangement of the cabin was quite functional, with a small couch and small desk.
The only problem we had was that there weren’t many drawers in the cabin, especially for a two week cruise. In my opinion, the desk area would be more serviceable if it had some drawers rather than just shelves.
The bathroom was very roomy for a cruise ship, and it was arranged quite well. The very small bathroom on the Azamara Quest really helped us to appreciate this one on the Infinity.
Our cabin steward was Anthony from India. He was very friendly, and he and his assistant worked hard at keeping our cabin clean and made up.
We did, however, have to talk with Anthony several times due to issues that weren’t necessarily caused by him. For some reason, we had someone else’s laundry delivered to our cabin twice. Both times, it had our cabin number on it, so it must have been a laundry room issue.
Two other occasions presented more serious issues. The first time a copy of another passenger’s passport was left on our door, I was shocked and reported it to Anthony. The second time it happened and was of different passengers, I considered it a security issue. I know I would not want a stranger to have a copy of my information! We always bring our own copies of our passports to use in ports that require them to be taken ashore. I don’t know who was responsible for the passports being put on the wrong cabin doors, but I did consider it a serious breach after it happened twice.
I have never used the medical center on a ship, but got very familiar with it on this cruise. I started to get a sore throat with other symptoms the night we boarded the ship. The next day it was getting worse and I had lost my sense of smell, which meant that I couldn’t taste the wonderful food on the Infinity. During dinner I started to get a fever. I went back to my cabin and took some aspirin and Mucinex that Carol had brought with us.
The next day I was feeling better in the morning, so I went on the tour we had planned in Montevideo. I was fine all day, but after we got back to the ship my fever returned. Our next stop was Punta del Este, which we knew involved a 20 minute tender boat ride so we decided to skip it. If I had to miss a port, this was the one to miss. I really needed to knock this illness out and get back on my feet.
The next morning I went to the small medical center on Deck 1. It was a popular place, and there are only five chairs. There were three people ahead of me. When I finally saw the doctor, he examined me and told me that he thought I had a virus. He prescribed two ibuprofens and two Tylenols every four hours for the fever and Robitussin DM for the drainage and coughing. I asked him if he was going to give me any antibiotics for my chest congestion. He said it wasn’t needed because I had a virus. He also said that I was not contagious. I didn’t feel confident about his diagnosis, but he was the doctor.
The medicine he prescribed was actually weaker than the Mucinex, and I didn’t get any better. I wasn’t really feeling that bad, other than the coughing and not being able to taste the food; but I was still getting a minor fever every afternoon. I decided to go back to the medical center three days later. This time I saw a different doctor who said I had a bronchial infection and he prescribed a Z-Pak antibiotic. I was so grateful. Two days later I was feeling much better and able to enjoy the wonderful food again.
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy that I had gotten bad advice from the first doctor. But thank goodness for the second one, otherwise my bronchitis could have gone into pneumonia and totally ruined our cruise. I am describing this whole experience to make readers aware that a ship doctor might not take as an aggressive course of action to fix your medical issues as your own doctor would since he doesn’t know you or your history. Question them if it doesn’t seem right.
This is the first time I have mentioned the photographers in a review. We have rarely purchased the photos on a cruise, not because we didn’t want to spend the money, but because the photos just weren’t that good. On some of our recent cruises we found the photos out of focus or with the wrong exposure; which is just unacceptable from what are supposed to be professional photographers.
Well the Infinity photographers have set a new standard for us. Normally on past cruises when we would look at the previous day’s photos, we had been able to put them in the trash bin pretty quickly. On this cruise, every day we would look at them and be amazed at how good they were. This became a problem. A good problem, but still a problem; since we now had stacks of photos to consider. It was very difficult to cull out photos we didn’t like.
By the next to last day of the cruise, we still had about twelve photos that we really liked. It was a very difficult decision. Fortunately, Pamela one of the photographers gave us some recommendations about which photos she thought were the best and why she picked them. She pointed out several aspects that we had not noticed. She was right and we bought more photos than we ever have on any previous cruise.
The Infinity photographers were the best ever.
Dining (menus link)
One of the reasons we cruise on Celebrity is we believe they have the best food. This was the first time we had cruised on Celebrity since the menus had been totally redone. We were hoping that the changes would be for the better. As always, we had early seating in the dining room for dinner. Our table was located in a less than desirable location at the back of the dining room, which meant that we couldn’t really see the beauty of the lovely room. For some reason, the background music was very loud. We had to ask for it to be turned down at every dinner.
We had a very good team in our waiter Reynaldo and his assistant Michael both from the Philippines. Reynaldo was a very seasoned professional waiter, while this was Michael’s first cruise. They made for a very good team.
Ioan our assistant maitre d from Romania was a real pleasure. He had a very outgoing personality and worked hard to provide everything we needed to have a great dining experience.
Since Carol and I don’t normally drink wine, we don’t use the ship sommeliers. This cruise was no different; but we thoroughly enjoyed our sommelier Conrad, also from the Philippines. He would come by our table every night and talk to us and joke with us like we were his best customer. As we got to know him better, he was doing magic tricks for the table. He really made our dining experience special.
Our table mates for the cruise were Shirish and Gita, from New Jersey; and Sherry from Alabama and Sheridan from Oregon. Good table mates really make for a great cruise. We looked forward to dinner every night to be able to spend time with our new friends.
As usual, on the last night there was the Baked Alaska Parade. I have never understood why everyone celebrates the Baked Alaska, since most people I know really don’t like it. But I must say, it is a lot of fun to watch everyone cheering and waving their napkins.
On two sea days there were lovely brunches in the dining room. This was well attended by people taking photos of the ice and food carvings as well as the many people anxious to eat the special treats that were available at the brunches.
We also enjoyed the breakfasts and lunches at the buffet. There was an excellent variety of food items and they were for the most part very good. The salad bar was always fresh, but never seemed to offer bleu cheese as a dressing. The biggest disappointment for breakfast was that the cream cheese on the buffet was more like sour cream.
Dinner at the buffet was a different tale. The night I had a high fever was the first formal night. Rather than risking getting our table mates exposed to something before I had a chance to see a doctor, we went to the buffet instead for dinner. I had always heard that they had many of the same items as on the dining room menu. Not so on that night. Other than the pasta table and pizza station, the only food on the buffet was a small section of Indian food and the salad bar. Had I not been sick and had I been able to taste, I would have loved to have Indian; but I was very disappointed in how few choices were available for dinner on the buffet. I did come back on a non-formal night just to see if there were more choices. There weren’t.
A bright spot for the buffet was the ice cream station. There were always several appealing flavors as well as soft serve available. It seemed to be open all the time. The pizza station also seemed to be open all the time. Although the pizza crust wasn't crispy, it was quite good.
We love the Celebrity specialty restaurants and the SS United States is a wonderful one. We had booked a dinner there for early in the cruise so that we could go a second time later; but since I couldn’t taste the food, we moved our reservation to the second week. As always, the service was superb and the food was a real treat. We particularly enjoy the cheese course.
Breezes Poolside Grill had very good hamburgers, hot dogs and other treats. We took advantage of it several times on sea days.
I never went to the Cova Café or Aqua Spa Café. They were very popular, but I just never got around to them. Possibly because I couldn’t taste anything for half the cruise. I didn't even get a photo of the Aqua Spa Café. The Pasticceria is right across from the Cova Cafe. It had some very tasty treats that seemed to be available all the time.
We were fortunate to have a very popular Cruise Director, Allan King from Scotland. He seemed to be personally involved in everything that was going on all over the ship. Every time I saw him he was always upbeat and trying to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves.
We enjoy going to the entertainment in the theater after dinner. On this cruise, the production shows were very good. We had three of them over the fourteen days and the singers and dancers were very talented.
I believe that we may have seen some of the shows before, but they still kept us very entertained.
Our only complaint about the evening’s entertainment was that other than the production shows, almost all the other entertainers were singers. I would have liked to have some comedians, magicians or something else to add some variety. One entertainer that we really enjoyed was pianist, Brooks Aehron. He was a very good piano player, but what really made him special was how much he loved what he did. He would stand up and tell stories about the composers who's music he was about to play. The stories were just so interesting and funny. The audience just loved him. They even had another performance the next day in the afternoon. The theater was full and he received standing ovations at both performances.
Some of the nights they did add acrobatic flyers Celia and Julien, once with one of the singers to add to their performance; as well as having them perform on each of the production shows. They were just marvelous. Very talented athletes.
On the first night while we over nighted in Buenos Aires, a tango group was brought on for the evening’s entertainment. I guess I have just watched too much of Dancing with the Stars; but these dancers just seemed to be very boring. They were good at what they did, but it was too much of the same thing.
The entertainers that performed around the ship were just outstanding. Our favorite group was an a cappella group named Top Shelf. They were very popular with the passengers.
On the last sea day, there was a crew talent show. It was held in the afternoon and filled up the theater. Each performance just thrilled the audience. They were really good.
One person who really added to our entertainment pleasure was not directly involved in the shows. A cocktail hostess, Deetjie from Indonesia, was such a sweetheart. She was always smiling and happy to see us. We really enjoyed talking with her.
Media and Activities
With this being a part of the world that most North Americans aren’t familiar with, the enrichment lecturer’s talks were very popular. The two lecturers were Rod Jory and Graham Sunderland. Both of them were very educational as well as entertaining. I particularly enjoyed Graham, who had a very good sense of humor and spattered it nicely within his talks. I couldn’t help but notice how Graham’s appearance was very much like Alfred Hitchcock; and he talked like him also. It added to the entertainment value. I attended almost all of the lectures and enjoyed them quite a bit.
In addition to the lectures the two gentlemen also offered some additional activities. During a sea day, Graham had a bird watching session on the back of the ship pointing out the various species we were seeing. On one of the evenings Rod and Graham went up to the top deck at the front of the ship for star gazing. They pointed out the Southern Cross and other constellations not visible in the Northern Hemisphere. After leaving Ushuaia, Graham was down on the Promenade Deck telling about the various glaciers we were seeing. I only saw the first glacier with him, because I ran up to my cabin to get a jacket and realized that the view from our balcony was better than on Deck 4.
The Celebrity Today daily flyer was very valuable for this cruise, since there were a lot of activities on sea days. I liked how the actual pages with the schedule of activities could be separated from the rest of the flyer, which made it less bulky to carry around.
We were invited to a Bridge Tour. Even though all the bridges seem to look basically alike, I always enjoy seeing them.
I particularly like the view from the bridge.
Another event I enjoy attending even though I’ve been on several is the Galley Tour. I am always amazed at how large the equipment is, since everything has to be prepared in such massive quantities.
Even with the kitchen being as big as it is, I can’t imagine how they are able to accomplish what they do. I would love to have a galley tour during the dinner hour to see how they actually do accomplish what they do, but I’d probably be run over in the process. While on the tour, we saw our table mates Gita and Shirish on another tour. Cruise Critic friends Sharon and Hugo were also on the. We took photos of each other taking the other's photo.
Since there were so many international travelers on this cruise, all of the announcements were made in three languages. I appreciate the need for the multiple languages, but when there are long announcements, they seemed to go on forever. Probably part of my dislike for the announcements was that Captain Anastasios Lekkas has got to be one of the most boring captains we have sailed with. His announcements were made very slowly, in a monotone, with no emotion. I don’t know if he is just that “formal” or what, but I came to dread his noon updates.
Since our last cruise was on the Azamara Quest, with an extremely outgoing captain and very friendly staff, our opinion of the majority of the Infinity’s executive staff was that they were not particularly outgoing. From the captain down, they seemed to stay to themselves and not go out of their way to talk with the passengers. They were competent and efficient, but subdued. One exception was the Captain’s Club Hostess, Tanushka D’Souza. She was quite outgoing and seemed to always be very friendly and interested in the passengers. Of course Allan King and his staff were always passenger friendly.
Tanushka also hosted the Captain’s Club Elite Member Social Hour from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM on most evenings. There was a selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks. They also passed around trays of appetizers.
They also passed around trays of appetizers. After trying a few of the mixed drinks, I settled on the delicious appletini as my favorite. The social hour is one Elite perk that is quite worthwhile.
Two other Elite perks that were really appreciated were the free bags of laundry and 108 minutes of internet for each of us. These perks really make it nice to cruise with Celebrity.
Since Carol and I are both active on the Cruise Critic Forums (www.cruisecritic.com), we get to talk to fellow passengers on-line who will be cruising with us, many months before the cruise. Once on board, Celebrity puts on a gathering called a Celebrity Connections Party for CCers to get to meet one another in person. It is always so much fun to be able finally see so many of the people that we had been communicating with on-line. These parties are normally scheduled on the first sea day; but due to scheduling, we didn’t have it until the fifth day. By then, we were really ready to meet those folks we hadn’t already met on our own.
The party was hosted by the Events Coordinator, Matthew. He really seemed to be glad to be at the party.
We had a large group attend the party. There was no way to remember all the people’s names. It would have been nice if Matthew had given out name tags. On other cruises we wrote both our CC names and our real names on our tags. It really helps when meeting so many new faces. More photos from the Cruise Critic party are in the Snapfish album at this LINK.
Ports of Call
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I had originally planned to take a taxi to the Recoleta Cemetery after we got settled on the ship and had lunch, and take the Hop-on Hop-off bus to tour the city the next day. But our plans changed after hearing about numerous tourists being robbed. Rather than just being pick pocketed, one group of eight tourists had been physically attacked and robbed. I decided that it would be a safer choice to just book the ship’s city tour for the next day and stay on the ship today. We were ready to stop and rest for a while anyway.
The next day’s tour allowed us to see almost everything I had wanted to see from our original plans, and it was a lot easier on us. Driving to our first stop, the Recoleta Cemetery, we saw quite a few lovely monuments and statues. There was even one with an Eva Peron statue.
Most people that visit Buenos Aires seem to go to the cemetery. I thought the main attraction would be to see Eva Peron’s mausoleum. I soon found that the real appeal to me was to see the beautiful mausoleums and monuments for the less famous residents of Buenos Aires. It was a very lovely place to wander around, and the statuary was just lovely.
Our tour guide Eduardo did a fine job of explaining what we were seeing. A mourner who was visiting the cemetery to put out flowers on his family grave yelled at Eduardo to stop talking, since it was a cemetery. Eduardo handled the situation well and continued to tell us about what we were seeing. There were many other tour groups for the mourner to complain to. I can appreciate the mourner’s situation, but what can he expect when he has a loved one buried in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
By the time we arrived at Evita’s mausoleum, it was somewhat of a letdown. The pathway in front of it was very narrow and the mausoleum itself was very plain compared to others we had seen. There were numerous plaques on it, but no lovely statues. Additionally, there were many people around taking photos of the famous site.
There were so many beautiful statues in the cemetery; it was difficult to decide which ones to photograph.
We rejoined the bus and headed to the main square in Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo. On the way, we passed the opera house. I had hoped to be able to tour that building, since it was supposed to be quite beautiful inside, but it wasn’t on the tour itinerary.
We also passed by the large obelisk and some other lovely monuments.
We exited the bus at Plaza de Mayo and walked over to the Pink House, which is the government building where Evita addressed the people; and where Evita sings Don't Cry for Me Argentina in the musical.
We then went into the lovely Metropolitan Cathedral. I wish we had been able to spend more time here, but we did have to rush due to a tight touring schedule. I was impressed with some of the stained glass windows.
Our next stop was the brightly colored El Caminito in the La Boca area. It was quite an interesting place and a beehive of activity
There were many street entertainers and people doing the tango; but the main attraction to me was the artwork and figurines on the buildings.
It was quite an interesting place to walk around and there were some very unique souvenirs available. It is also a major tourist shopping area.
My only criticism of this tour concerned when we got back to the port. As before noted, we had to take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the ship. When our tour bus arrived at the port, Eduardo did not tell us where to go to get on the shuttle. I asked him and he kind of flipped his hand in the general direction of the terminal and said “inside”. It might not have been a problem except that another cruise ship was loading and there were throngs of people trying to embark.
Meanwhile, we had an entire busload of people, in one big group, wandering around playing follow the leader and trying to find out where we needed to go. Finally, we found a man who said we needed to go all the way to the far end of the building to catch the bus. The general feeling of the entire group was that since it was a ship excursion and because it was not close to where the bus parked, Eduardo should have personally led us to where we needed to board the bus. Other than this one easily correctable thing, it was a good tour and he was a great guide.
When we got back to the ship, the tide had dropped, so the ramps were not as steep. In fact the one on deck two was almost level with the ship and most people were taking it. We were glad that our ship had stayed overnight in Buenos Aires, and we had gotten a chance to experience the lovely city.
I always enjoy being on deck for sail away. I particularly enjoy hearing the ship's horn blast as it leaves port. It's sort of an intrinsic part of the cruising experience. For some reason, the horn never sounded as we left any of the ports on this cruise. I don't know why the Captain chose not to blow the horn, but we missed hearing the loud blast.
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