Celebrity Infinity Round Trip Hawaii Nov 20th 2005
I always think that the best reviews are ones that provide you with enough information for you to determine if this cruise would be the right one for you. Hopefully, I have provided enough details, but not too much so as to bore you.
The Celebrity Infinity Round Trip from San Diego to Hawaii Cruise on Nov 20th, 2005 was a delightful cruising experience for our family of 4.We chose this itinerary for our family of 4 because we wanted to take the kids on a cruise and found that we could do the 15 day Hawaii Cruise for just about $1500 more than an 11 day Mexico or Caribbean cruise. We knew that we could never do a trip to Hawaii for a family of 4 for $1500, so we decided to do both and take a cruise to Hawaii.
Embarkation was really a non-event as we had filled out the express embarkation forms on line. We basically signed a few papers, got our sea passes and our kids muster station ID bands, and walked onboard. We had booked an outside quad state room that included two uppers, a queen and a sofa bed. We got upgraded to a veranda stateroom with one upper and a sofa bed. So, with the sofa bed out we had a little less floor space which was made up-for by the balcony.Right after embarkation, I went down to the dining room and found that we had a table for 4 in the Main/Early Seating just like we had requested. I also spoke to the Maitre’de regarding our wine service. I mentioned to him that we would be ordering wine every night with dinner and that we had had problem with our wine service on a previous cruise when the wine would sometimes sit on the table unopened for 20 minutes. He assured me that he would talk to our wine steward and make sure that we got excellent service. It took a while for our suitcases to arrive, probably because all our tags had our previous room number on them. I wasn’t able to finish unpacking before dinner and the shows, so that meant suitcases were still out at bed time.
We received excellent service throughout the cruise in the main dining room. Our two waiters, Marlo and Neil were very hard working and attentive. They were especially good with our children. For dinner, we had set the expectation with our children that they were to order off the adult menu and to try one new food a day. My daughter waited with great anticipation every night to hear our waiter’s recommendations for the evening.
The menu always provided us with many of varied choices. The kids were even brave enough to try some of the more exotic appetizers including frog’s legs and escargot, as well as some more traditional items like shrimp cocktail and spinach turn-overs. The variety of soups kept us guessing each night. Some of our favorites included the two or three different varieties of consomm and the tomato bisque. One night, I even got to try two soups as I was mistakenly brought the wrong soup. Without having to mention the problem, they served the correct one shortly after. The salads were always fresh and crisp with several delicious choices of dressing. Of the four or five entre choices offered every night, all four of us never had trouble finding something that we liked. The whole process of dining took about two hours and we never felt slow nor rushed.The wine service was near perfect.
Our Sommelier, Segundo, was very knowledgeable of the wines on board. The first or second night of the cruise he even let my husband and I do a complementary wine tasting of three whites for me to try, and three reds for my husband to try. The wine tasting was just as helpful to him as it was to us as it gave him a good idea of what we liked. He used some interesting choices of words when advising us like “that’s just a regular wine” for something he thought we might find not up to par. When we ordered and Italian Borolo, he also wanted to make sure that we knew that we were ordering a very strong bold wine. Once we assured him that we had much experience with this style of wine, he was confident that we would enjoy it.
On that night, he brought us the very fancy, long stemmed crystal. We mentioned how much we appreciated that, and he brought us the fine crystal every night.The whole family dining experience was one of the most important aspects of our family vacation. We chose a cruise so that our children could understand fine dining and the etiquette involved in the whole process. We wanted them to have an opportunity to try new foods and understand that there is much more to life than burgers and fries at a fast food places. The cruise exceeded our expectations in this area. The kids truly loved every aspect of the dining room.
On Board Entertainment.
The Celebrity Singers and Dancers did a total of 4 production shows and although I missed the second one, my only real disappointment was the “Spectacle of Broadway” production show. The singers and dancers just didn’t seem to put all their heart into this show. Perhaps they have been doing this show too long and it is getting old for them. However,I really loved the “They’ve Got Rhythm” and “Celebrate the World” shows. I would even so go so far as to say that the “Celebrate the World” show was the best show I’ve ever seen at sea. I was probably most impressed with the Irish dance section, performed extremely well by a group, that for the most part, had not studied Irish dance.The Male Vocalist, Jack Walker had a pure strong tenor voice with an incredible range. He performed two shows, singing Pop, Broadway and Opera. The other performers that I missed either due to lack of interest, or just needing to go to bed early were an electronic xylophonist/marimba player, impressionist, and a comedian.
In Honolulu, we were treated to a wonderful hula performance by one of the top Hawaiian hula schools, Halau Hula Olana. I believe that they have been featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Discovery HD Theatre. This show featured 7-14 year old girls, from this award winning hula school, performing traditional and modern hulas, all in modest dress that emphasized the beauty of the dance.The party band Centerfold, provided most of the “party” music for the ship “party” venues. They sang 50’s music for the sock-hop party, country music for the country party, Motown favorites for the Motown night, Disco hits for the disco night. There seemed to be no form of music that they couldn’t provide for the ship. They loved to play to the crowd, and even played YMCA at my 7 year old daughters request. They were always smiling and waving to the passengers and generally having a good time.
The ship also had a harpist that played in the specialty restaurant , a string quartet, and a Hawaiian guitar singer/player.
Every morning my husband and I would check the daily for promising looking activities. My husband likes sports type activities and I like music activities. We both had just enough to do with-out wearing ourselves out. My husband liked the paddle tennis tournaments and free throw contests. My favorite was “Name that Tune”. Celebrity gave out nice prizes including card key lanyards and tote bags to the winners. I also participated in Karaoke. Though they had a good number of songs from which to choose, if you are big into Karaoke, don’t hesitate to bring your own CDGs. The staff did a good job of running the karaoke fairly, giving priority to new singers, but early singers still had a chance to do one or two more songs.
Taking part in the passenger talent show was also a lot of fun.
Some people brought their own sheet music, others worked out something to sing with the ships pianist. I brought my own CD. Passengers were encouraged and welcomed by the MC and a friendly audience.Some of the activities that I know my fellow passengers enjoyed included bridge and card tournaments, rummy cube, ballroom dance lessons, line dance lessons and Bingo..
Celebrity did a great job of providing passengers with fun learning opportunities while onboard. I heard very good feed back on the lectures by the man from NASA, though I did not attend. I attended or watched on TV several of the lectures by the naturalist. His lectures and A/V presentations on Hawaii’s Volcanos and coral reefs provided me with much needed knowledge for my day at Volcanoes National Park and snorkeling at Haeleakua Bay. They were fun and personal, as he as slides of some of the ships staff and entertainers during previous voyages.
My husband and I also enjoyed the wine seminars presented by Patrick Prickett of Kendall Jackson and Pepe Vineyards. During these presentations Patrick talked about different Appalachians for wine growing. Everyone in attendance got three complementary wine tastes per seminar. Though these presentations were designed for the wine novice, even those of us who have loved wine for years got a lot out of the lectures.
Celebrity offerered Hawaiian themed activities including Lei making and hula dancing. I did not attend the lei making, but talked to several ladies who were wearing their self made leis around the ship. The Hula lessons were simple and fun for all ages. My 7 year old daughter loved them, and I’m sure that some of the ladies in the class were in their 70’s or 80’s. The lessons started on the way over to Hawaii so that we would be ready to perform the Hula at the out door deck party as we were leaving Honolulu. All the ladies and one gentleman who participated in the class added to the Hawaiian fun by wearing Aloha wear for the performance.
My only criticism of the kids program was that the activities sometimes conflicted with or overlapped other planned activities. For example, the family disco was from 8:00 – 8:45, with the Captains toast at 8:30 and production show starting at 8:45. By the time we got to the theater, there were very few seats left. We found some for the kids and my husband and I stood in the standing room behind them.
Other than those few times where schedules conflicted, the kids program was perfect. My daughter loved the arts and crafts activities geared towards the younger kids. When those activities didn’t quite fit with my 9 year old son, they moved him up to the 10-12 year olds where he could enjoy activities like dodge ball, ping-pong and scavenger hunts. I was pleased that they were able to adjust to where my son best fit. The youth activities staff seemed to really enjoy the children, which definitely made the whole program more fun for the kids. They even had family activities where the parents were invited to the activities with their kids. These included family bingo for prizes, family scavenger hunts and family karaoke.
Every day, the Fun Factory Daily was full of activities for the kids about which they were always excited. We utilized the “Pajama Party” two nights, once on the last formal night, after the production show we let the kids go to the slumber party until 1 pm at a charge of $6 per hour per child, and on the last night when it was free. Most of the time, the kids were ready for bed by 10 pm when the free program ended. The kids ate with us in the dining room on all but two nights: The night we were late getting in from Honolulu and ordered room service, and the night when my husband and I ate in the Specialty Restaurant when they ate at the kids make your own pizza party.
Our Stateroom attendant did a great job keeping our room for 4 clean and tidy. We had a few mishaps with my daughter having too much soda one night and wetting the bed and me falling asleep on one of the pillow chocolates. I alerted our attendant to the problems immediately and before we could return to our room the problems were take care of. The kids stuffed animals and special blankets were always cleverly arranged when our attendant did the nightly turndown service.Room service was timely and friendly though they wouldn’t let me order cheese and fruit for more than two. It turned out Cheese and Fruit for two was really enough for 6, so not really a problem.We could order off the dining room menu during dining times, but the state room attendant advised that this takes longer as you have to wait until the dining room kitchen is ready for the entres until you receive your entre. So we decided to go with the standard room service offerings.
How can you go wrong with Hawaii? . The weather was not perfect, but lets face it, Hawaii is known as the Rainbow state, and you can’t have rainbows without rain. On each Island, we had a mix of rain and sunshine, but you can hardly hold the cruise responsible for the weather in Hawaii. The nice part about the islands in Hawaii is that you just have to find the part of the island where the sun is.We also made the decision early on in planning our vacation, not to do any of the ship’s excursions. We just thought with the two kids it would be better logistically to explore the island on our own. In Kauai, this worked out well, renting a jeep, driving to the fogged in Waimea Canyon Lookout and then down to sunny Pouipu Beach. There, we enjoyed snorkeling and the natural beauty of the beach.
In Ohau, the self tour worked out well also. We had planned to see the Arizona Memorial and had done enough research to know that we might have to wait in line quite a while to get our tickets and time to visit the Memorial. When we got there, the National Park Ranger was advising visitors that the wait for tickets was about an hour and that the visiting time was about 2 hours after that. This worked fine with our schedule as we had prioritized the Arizona Memorial as our number one attraction. It poured down rain while we were waiting in line but we just took it all in stride. We endured worse at Disney World.In Hilo, the logistics of getting a rental car were horrible. The rental car companies just didn’t seem to be able to handle such a high influx of people at once. I waited at the pier with the kids for an hour for my husband to return with the car. Luckily, there were vendors selling souvenirs in the terminal so we were able to shop while we waited. In Hilo, we spent all of our time at Volcanoes National Park.
We didn’t do the 3 mile each way hike to see the lava flow which we heard was half death march and half spectacular. We enjoyed the crater rim tour, steam vents, and Thurston’s lava tube hike. That night the ship sailed by the lava flow, and it was the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.In Kona, we did a combination deep sea fishing/snorkeling charter for just our family through Kona Seasports. We were glad to do the snorkeling, because we didn’t catch any fish.
At least, we got to see a lot of fish. The snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay was spectacular. There is group boat charter that also visits this bay.Our last day was in Lahaina, where we had planned to get a ride up the beach to Kaanapali and snorkel again at Black Rock. The sky was a little overcast, and the kids were a little tired, so I just went into town to do souvenir shopping in Old Lahaina at the ABC store and Hilo Hatties, and also at the Lahaina Cannery Mall. I thought the shopping was pretty good, but I was only looking for things like T-shirts and sweatshirts. However, there were lots of jewelry and art shops for those looking for higher quality souvenirs. It would have been nice if we were overnight in Lahaina which would allow us to do the Old Lahaina Lua, but we had to be back on board by 3:00 for our 4:00 sailing. We did see some whales in the waters between Maui and Molikai as we were heading out to make our way back to San Diego.Celebrity used to do this cruise either departing or returning to Ensenada.
On this cruise we made out “Jones” act port stop in Ensenada. This meant arriving at Ensenada at around 11:00, then the crew signing a few papers, and then heading on to San Diego. The embarkation and disembarkation both in San Diego made things go very easily.
This was probably the best family vacation that we have ever had. We were totally relaxed and un-hurried during our days at sea. The kids said they enjoyed the cruise more than last summer’s 5 days at Disney World. The whole family was thrilled with the service, food, entertainment, and amenities. I would definitely take this same exact cruise again, just see some of the things we missed on each island next time.